Yellow Branch Falls in Oconee County

By:Marie McAden


A couple of years ago, I ran into a group of hikers on their annual week-long tour of South Carolina cascades. These waterfall veterans tipped me off to their Upstate favorite — Yellow Branch Falls. Ever since then, it’s been on my must-visit list.

Earlier this month, I finally had a chance to see for myself why this Oconee County waterfall gets all the raves.

Dropping 50 feet over a series of rock ledges, it’s certainly not one of the tallest cascades in the state. But what it lacks in height, it makes up in breadth. Nestled in a lush forest cove, it stretches 75 feet across, creating quite an impression when you’re standing at its base staring up.

The scattered rock ledges, some of them covered in verdant moss, send the water spilling in every direction. Framed in the green of the surrounding foliage, the silver and white streaks of water seem to glisten against the dark colored rocks.

So now that I have you adding it to your spring vacation itinerary, let me tell you about the moderately difficult, out-and-back trek to the falls. The trailhead is located in the Yellow Branch Picnic Area in Sumter National Forest north of Walhalla. You’ll start off on the Yellow Branch Nature Trail, connecting to the falls trail just a short ways down the path.

As you make your way through the wooded corridor, you’ll pass groves of hardwoods and cross several meandering creek bottoms before the terrain becomes noticeably steep. The trail skirts the edges of deep ravines, so you’ll want to stay focused on where you’re walking, especially when the ground is wet.

On our visit, the trees were still bare of leaves, providing us with a great view of the Walhalla vicinity. We also were extremely fortunate to have made the hike the day after a hard rain. I’ve been told the falls can be all but a trickle during dry spells. Even so, the vista is so beautiful, it’s a destination the waterfall trekkers never miss.

For directions to the falls, click here.

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