Summary: Starting at the parking lot, you will hike approx 0.5 miles to a bridge that goes over Whitewater River. If you go left here, that will take you to the Coon Branch Natural Area (about 0.9 miles out). This is a 20 acre preserve right near the border of SC/NC that represents old growth and no human influence. At the end of this trail, there is a HUGE Fraser Magnolia, larger than the guide books will tell you. Going back to the start of this trail, cross over the bridge and you will hike about 0.1 miles to meet up with the Foothills trail. Keep going and the trail will take you up a steady ascent and then a short descent to the Lower Whitewater Falls Overlook (I think about 1.3 miles to get there). It is not too close, but gives a spectacular view. You will follow some trail and logging/hunting roads. There are directional signs along the way with mileages. It also gives the option to hike up to Upper Whitewater Falls.
Trailhead: From the intersection of SC HWY 11 (Cherokee Foothills scenic hwy) and SC HWY 28 (just south of Walhalla), follow HWY 11 for about 12 miles, then turn left (northeast) onto HWY 130. Go approximately 11 miles and you will see the entrance to Duke Power's Bad Creek Hydroelectric Station on your right. Pull up to the gate (close enough to activate the weight sensor), and wait for the gate to automatically open. Once through the gate, drive about 2 more miles and you will see a large parking lot with a payphone and restroom facilities. The trailhead starts near the phone. (Lat:35.01194 Lon:-83.00069)
Trail Guides for Coon Branch Area_Lower Whitewater Falls:
Hiking South Carolina
by John Clark & John Dantzler (Falcon)
by SC State Trails Program ()
Best Seasons: Year-Round
User Groups: Hikers,
Ranger Contact: Duke Power Company, Lake Management. 800-443-5193
Localhikes Reporter: This hike was submitted by Brian Bain, who has posted 6 other hikes on this site
Trail Reviews Submit your own review
Reviewed by Tom on 9/22/2014
We went in early September with temps in the low 90s. It was a fun hike but could have been shortened by walking the road from the parking lot instead of following other instructions. The view of the falls is half assed as the view from the observation deck is partially blocked by trees. You can only see the top one third of the falls. Would go back in early spring when more of the falls are visible or would skip this one.
Reviewed by Anita on 6/14/2012
Fall 2009 Hike was was very pleasant, alittle muddy at the beginning, we could see where the wild boar had been in the trail, this trail had various levels of different plantain. Beautiful views of the river. A little longer than expected but well worth the trek.
Reviewed by duff on 6/3/2007
set out on this hike yesterday (6/2/07) with my 30-something year old boyfriend, as well as a five year old and a ten year old. we hiked on both trails, and the kids were just as bouncy at the end of the 6ish miles as they were at the beginning. (in fact, we wound up driving across the border and wandering around the north whitewater falls area afterward.) really great views of the waterfall, and the trail was pleasant, well-marked, and not too crowded. (i think we saw maybe 10 other folks wandering around during our hike.) the only downside of the hike was the realization that tick season has officially begun- pulled one off of myself and one off of the boyfriend- not the highlight of my day, i assure you.
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Keys: South Carolina Hiking, South Carolina Trails, South Carolina Hikes, Oconee County Hiking, Oconee County Trails, Oconee County Hikes