SOUTH CAROLINA: Chattooga Trail to Spoonauger Falls

This is a nice, super short hike to a large and picturesque falls. If you’re hiking the Chattooga River, or shipwrecked and marooned by one of the many rafting company tours, check it out!

Is it goat approved? I will probably hike the Chattooga Trail with a goat at some point, but not today. There is little goat acceptable forage along the river except for hemlocks (which are near threatened and will probably be endangered in the future – so no eating) and there are tons of highly poisonous mountain laurel and rhododendron bushes around. You would need to bring chaffe hay to feed the goat. Or it will eat the poisonous stuff and croak…

How you get there:  You want to go to the Chattooga Trail Trailhead off Forest Rd. 646 located at34°58’29.3″N 83°06’53.1″W.

Time for the hike:  1 mile out and back  from the parking area/trail head to the waterfall and back. The hike is mostly along the river and flat or nearly flat ground, until you turn to go to the falls, then there’s some minor uphill switch backing. I would rate this as family friendly and easy, but you will need balance to cross the water crossing and in wet weather water proof shoes would be a good idea.

Best season to do this hike: Straight up winter. No bugs from the muddy sections of the trail, fewer people, and better breezes.

Trails to Take

If you start off at the trail head park on the side of the road, (or go up the road towards Hwy 107 and park at the big parking area) and then hike down the trail. The route is easy, follows the river, and requires no uphill or down hill hiking. There is one significant stream crossing that may be a problem if you have bad balance or do not have water proof shoes about a mile in, just before the turn off to Spoonauger Falls. The side trail is marked, and goes off to your right up the stream you just crossed. This section IS uphill, along a series of short switch backs, then across to the base of the falls, which requires a minor rock scramble to reach. Easy, kid friendly, and definitely worth a visit.

Chattooga River
Spoonauger Falls


Trail Map


  1. The river used to be surrounded by a gorgeous hemlock forest of several hundred year old trees, (no really, it was like a magical elf level fairy land forest). Thanks to the wooly adelgid these are now gone, but their children are still struggling to make a comeback. So be kind to the baby hemlocks, and avoid rubbing up against them and carrying the wooly adelgids on your clothes to new forests for them to kill!
  2. The stream crossing on the hike about a mile from Forest Service Rd 646 will require some balance and possibly getting your toes wet. My mother has a bad knee and did not feel comfortable trying to cross this area with non-water proof shoes.
  3. You cannot camp near the trail head or along the road or along the river near either of the above. Plan accordingly.

In sum: 

Why is it that the release of potential energy through gravity assisted water transference is always so totally worth getting muddy, spending gas money, and endangering the cohesive unity of your oil pan for?

SOUTH CAROLINA: Chattooga Trail to the Wahalla State Fish Hatchery

My husband grew up on a fish hatchery in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Since I’m from South Carolina and I am of the opinion that nowhere on the planet is better than South Carolina and we should all take care of South Carolina so it will always be better than everywhere else and how my husband should like the state as much as I do because I am obviously right about everything (and so on and so forth, you get the idea) I took him to see South Carolina’s only cold water fish hatchery.

His impression: “yep, it smells like a fish hatchery.”

Is it goat approved? I will probably hike the Chattooga Trail with a goat at some point, but I would not hike to the fish hatchery with one because the fish hatchery has a lot of people and is surrounded by a fence that you wouldn’t want to take a pack goat inside.

How you get there:  You want to go to the Chattooga Trail Trailhead off Forest Rd. 646 located at34°58’29.3″N 83°06’53.1″W.

Time for the hike:  8 miles out and back  from the parking area/trail head to the fish hatchery and back. The hike is mostly along the river and flat or nearly flat ground, until you turn to go to the hatchery, then there’s a little up and down hill. I would rate this as family friendly and easy, but you will need balance to cross the water crossings and in wet weather water proof shoes would be a good idea.

Best season to do this hike: Straight up winter. No bugs from the muddy sections of the trail, fewer people, and better breezes.

Trails to Take

If you start off at the trail head park on the side of the road, (or go up the road towards Hwy 107 and park at the big parking area) and then hike down the trail. The route is easy, follows the river, and rarely requires any uphill or down hill hiking. There is one significant stream crossing that may be a problem if you have bad balance or do not have water proof shoes about a mile in, just before the turn off to Spoonauger Falls. There used to be a bridge here, but there isn’t anymore.

Trout fisherman on the Chattooga

The trail continues along the river, beginning to pass rustic campsites (note camping is not allowed anywhere near the trail head or along the river near the road) and eventually terminating in a large open area where the trout fishermen generally camp during the January to February fishing season. Walk straight through this confusing mess, following the Chattooga River and you will see a bridge crossing a significant tributary joining the Chatooga. Cross the bridge, and on the far side signage will indicate you need to go right and hike 2.5 miles to the fish hatchery.

Fish Hatchery shelter for picnics

The trail here follows the tributary (East Fork Chattooga River), climbing along the valley edge, past a rock face and through open and frankly kind of boring wood land. It goes on for a while, then you reach an old and very mossy foot bridge over the tributary, pass through the standing skeletons and carcasses of wooly adelgid killed hundred year old hemlocks, and now you are on fish hatchery property. The trail comes up behind a picturesque parkitecture picnic shelter, joins a board walk, and leads you up to the hatchery proper, which can be toured. There are cool pools full of different life stages of trout. They grow Brook, Brown, and Rainbow trout here for release for sport fishing in the South Carolina mountains.

Trout in fish hatchery ponds
Wahalla State Fish Hatchery


Trail Map


  1. The hatchery used to be surrounded by a gorgeous hemlock forest of several hundred year old trees, (no really, it was like a magical elf level fairy land forest). Thanks to the wooly adelgid these are now gone, but their children are still struggling to make a comeback. So be kind to the baby hemlocks, and avoid rubbing up against them and carrying the wooly adelgids on your clothes to new forests for them to kill!
  2. The concrete blocks across the stream are not connected to that rock face – and they will tilt and dump you down the mountain.
  3. The hike is is up hill somewhat even though the hatchery, if you’ve driven to it, is in a very obvious valley.
  4. The first stream crossing on the hike about a mile from Forest Service Rd 646 will require some balance and possibly getting your toes wet. My mother has a bad knee and did not feel comfortable trying to cross this area with non-water proof shoes.
  5. You cannot camp near the trail head or along the road or along the river near either of the above. Plan accordingly.
Be careful of the unsecured concrete blocks if you don’t want to be dumped down the mountain!

In sum: 

If they had a trout restaurant just down the trail from the hatchery this place would be paradise. Or maybe a catch and cook your own fish deal…

GEORGIA: Southern Terminus of the Appalachian Trail

I couldn’t get up the southern/eastern side of the jacked up gravel road to Springer Mountain. Instead, I went from the western/northern end of the gravel road maze, drove 5 miles in to Blue Ridge WMA, parked at Three Forks Parking Area, and hiked in 10 mi round trip to the southern terminus of the Appalachian Trail the hard way.

Well, it wasn’t actually all that hard…the terrain is moderately easy, and there is plenty to see in the area. Attractions include Long Creek Falls, the Benton MacKaye Memorial, the southern terminus of the Benton MacKaye trail, two amazing trail shelters, and lots of water to hike along during part of the hike. Plus the end point of the hike at the southern terminus of the Appalachain trail!

Is it goat approved: No. This section is placarded as “no pack stock”. So goat on a leash – maybe. Goat with a pack, forget about it!

No pack stock…

How you get there: Google Three Forks Trailhead or go to gps (34.663550, -84.183102). There isn’t real parking, just a wide spot in the road where people (in season LOTS of people) pull off. I recommend coming from the back side from Doublehead Gap Rd – not from the Nimberwill side – you will drive rough gravel roads for forever if you come from Nimberwill. If you come in from the north side it is a relatively good road that even a low ground clearance car can handle. You also only drive about 5 mi, down what is an absolutely beautiful stretch of road along a river. If you come after a major storm bring a chainsaw – these forestry service roads are cleared, but not always in a hurry and the hemlocks dying from wooly agelid fall on the road a lot. The drive itself is gorgeous, despite the dying hemlocks. There are nice free camping spots along the river, but camping in designated spots only is strictly enforced and spots are usually all taken on weekends. If you do camp – be kind – don’t damage the remaining hemlocks.

Ride in is beautiful

Time for hike: Total hike, from Long Creek Falls to the Southern Terminus and back to parking at Three Forks trail head is 11.25 mi round trip out and back.  From Three Forks parking area it is 1 mi out to Long Creek Falls (2 mi round trip). From Three Forks parking area it is about 1.2 mi to the Stover Creek Trail Shelter, 3.2 miles to Springer Mountain Parking Lot, and from Springer Mountain Parking lot it is about 1 to Benton MacKaye Memorial, Springer Mountain trail shelter, and the southern terminus of the Appalachian Trail.

Best season to hike: As always I highly recommend winter for the best views and lowest traffic, but if you are okay with high traffic any time of the year is fine. Rhododendron will bloom in the spring, and the yearly exodus of Appalachian trail hikers hits hard around April 1st or so. If you want to sleep in a trail shelter come in winter – the shelters stay packed in warmer weather.

Trails to Take

Starting off at Three Forks trail head, you want to go away from Long Creek Falls, and across the river on the other side of the road via a wooden foot bridge. The trail continues following water through thickets of rhododendron under overhanging dying hemlocks and pines. The trail is obvious, extremely well maintained, and beautiful. The Benton MacKaye Trail goes off to your left as you climb. This trail is built on one of the proposed routes for the AT in honor of Benton MacKaye, one of the original proposers of building the Appalachian Trail in the 1930s. Not surprisingly with this history, it often parallels, intersects, and sometimes runs on the same route as the AT. Benton MacKaye is marked with DIAMOND white blazes. The AT is marked with RECTANGULAR white blazes. So be careful about which one you are following!

Crossing the river at the start of the hike
Well maintained trail structures

You continue to climb along the Elysian Fields worthy river valley over several more bridges, then the trail sharply swings to the left. Google will tell you to go straight here on the wide old road bed, but that’s not the correct course. Follow the while rectangular blazes and go down to the creek, cross it, and climb up the other side. Shortly thereafter you will pass a side trail marked with a blue blaze and a “shelter” sign as is typical on the AT. This is Stover Creek Shelter, which is massive and has a bear box for food in the form of a Northern Tool and Equipment tool box. I have no idea how they got that thing out there, but it’s there for the spoiled AT thru hikers.

Past the shelter the trail leaves the river, climbing up on dry ridges and frankly, uninteresting forest land. The Benton MacKaye crosses the AT again, but the correct way is well marked. At no point does the climb become ardous, but it does meander for a while before finally reaching Springer Mountain Parking/Trailhead. This parking area is large, but doubtfully not large enough for everyone during the season. Cross the parking area and head up the AT on the other side.

Spinger Mountain Parking Lot with an impatient dog

From this point the trail becomes beautiful once more, climbing over rocks and under stunted oak trees as it traces the ridge line of the mountains. Views abound through the de-leaved trees. The Benton MacKaye comes back in to the AT, forming it’s personal southern terminus, and about half a football field down Benton MacKaye from the intersection is the Benton MacKaye memorial plaque, well marked and stuck on the side of a boulder.

Benton MacKaye Memorial
Southern terminus of the Benton MacKaye Trail

Past Benton MacKaye is another blue marked shelter trail to Springer Mountain Trail shelter, a beast of a double decker shelter with it’s own itinerant caretaker, surrounded by heavily used camping meadows. Recent signage indicates, however, that camping here would be ill advised – there have been serious bear issues in the area. The park service recommends not sleeping at Springer Mountain trail shelter at this time due to bears. There is another bear box/big metal tool box here, but do you really want to sleep somewhere with a 5 am wake up call from a black bear?

Springer Mountain Trail Shelter (it has a second floor inside)

Not far past the trail shelter is the southern terminus of the Appalachian Trail, set among a grove of stunted oaks overlooking the mountains. There are two plaques – one set in the rock face, and another set in a boulder amid the oak trees. Welcome, at last, to the start of the journey!

The southern terminus of the Appalachian Trail

When you get back down to the Three Forks trail head, cross the road and finish the day with an easy 2 mi out and back hike to Long Creek Falls, which is well worth the visit.

Long Creek Falls

Trail Map


  1. Don’t camp at Springer Mountain trail shelter if you don’t have to as of 1/19/19. The forest service has posted signage warning of bear issues at the trail shelter. Press on for Stover Mountain Shelter, which is about 3 miles away.
  2. Camping near the Three Forks Trail Head is at designated camping sites only – the park service does not have a sense of humor about this, and their stringent enforcement is why the area is still as pretty as it is.
  3. Watch out – Benton MacKaye is DIAMOND white blaze, the Appalachian Trail is RECTANGULAR white blaze. Don’t get confused!
  4. Trail shelters are marked by rectangular blue blaze trails – you may have to walk a ways down one of these to find the shelter, but the shelter does have privy’s and water sources for those who aren’t comfortable going to the bathroom in the great outdoors.
  5. Don’t expect to get a spot in the trail shelters on the weekend or on any day of the week in the summer. Always plan to be able to tent camp if needed – this area of the AT is extremely popular.
  6. The AT thru hikers generally start heading north about April 1st – if you want the serenity of a quiet forest, don’t hike this section during this time or during the rhododendron bloom.
  7. If you are visiting this area after a major storm, bring a chainsaw to clear the road of debris.

In Sum

The Journey Begins! Sounds like a movie tag line doesn’t it?

GEORGIA: Lance Creek Trail at Jake’s Mountain

I wanted to go to Springer Mountain while it was miserable outside to see the southern terminus of the Appalachian Trail. The Honda Fit actually made it within 1.8mi of the trail head…but it shouldn’t have. I got a lot of use out of those skid plates under the car and I still fully expect the bottom to fall out of the car on the way to work Monday. The roads at Jake’s Mountain aren’t meant for low ground clearance cars, so instead of continuing to commit automobile suicide an hours drive from any paved surface, I went to check out this trail instead.

Jake’s Mountain doesn’t have much water, and it has even fewer trails that run along water, however, Lance Creek Trail (223 A) does run along a substantial water course with lots of small rapids. The trail also passes possible still ruins and what looks like a covered hand dug well, suggesting there might be more house site ruins in the surrounding area. This particular hike goes slightly farther than the trail itself, ending at a less well known campsite beside the river.

Is it goat approved?Yes. I have done the bottom of this with a goat.

Parking on the side of the road in the campground

How you get there: Head for Jone’s Creek Campground at Jake’s Mountain (34.604849, -84.151070). The road in was passable (barely) by a Honda Fit. If you have a wide vehicle with low ground clearance you will not be able to drive down to the campground and I don’t recommend driving down Winding Stair Gap Rd either. This is the land of Jeeps and low taxes, so you kind of are expected to get there under your own power without maintained roads, cleaned out ditches, or filled in potholes.

You know, I’m willing to pay more taxes if they would maintain the road in return

Time for the hike: 5.45 mi round trip from the off trail campsite to the Jones Creek Campground.

Best season to do this hike: If you are camping come in the winter – the campground stays solidly full during the summer. Go all the way to the far end of the campground and get the site under the hemlock trees on the river. If you are not camping come whenever, but realize the start of the hike may be buggy as the area has lots of puddles and seeps.

Trails to Take

Park in the campground, or if you have the right vehicle, go past the campground, up the hill, and around the corner and park at the huge car ford. NOTE: The trail rapidly becomes non-car friendly on the far side of the ford, and the trail, though it looks like a road, has a car barrier a short way up it. So no jeep trails here!

River near the campground
Possible old still site?

However you park or camp, you want to pass through the campground towards a large open field, then over a bridge and past a campsite situated under surprisingly healthy hemlock trees. The road goes up a moderate hill, then turns a corner coming up alongside a large flowing river. Shortly thereafter a large ford presents itself to your left. Do not cross the ford, continue straight. You are now on 223A Lance Creek Trail.

Car Ford with a goat

The trail, looking much like an old road, travels through bottom land, passes a car barrier, and thereafter shortly passes what may be an old still site with rusted out metal barrels. After that watch for a pile of large rocks to the left of the trail which may be a covered hand dug well. Trail 223B Saddle Back Trail goes off to the right. If you want to bushwhack to the Appalachian Trail this trail will get you closer to the AT than 223A.

Possible covered hand dug well
Small Falls
The trail is pretty much an old roadbed

If you continue straight the trail gets closer to the water, culminating in a small off trail falls at 2 mi. Nearing 2.5 mi the trail crosses two streams, and then the main trail goes off to the left to continue the loop around on 223 Bull Mountain Trail. If you continue ahead on the still very visible old road bed you will come out of the dense mountain laurel to an open clearing where the road bed ends and the river cascades into a reasonable pool for soaking in hot weather. This area is an unofficial campsite that sees infrequent use. After some exploring, turn around and head back to the car!



  1. The drive in on Winding Stairs Gap Rd and on the road to the campground itself is GRAVEL. For those not from Georgia this means it’s a *@&!*( ride in a low ground clearance car. There will be potholes, rock faces, and the road will not be maintained. I made it to the campground in a Honda Fit, but I had a tough time and I had to stop at one point and dislodge a tree limb that hung between my tire and fender.
  2. If you were thinking of bushwhacking to the Appalachian Trail, it is about 1 mile from the end of this hike. That 1 mile is up a sheer wall of mountain laurel, loose soil, and drop offs into water. I turned around pretty quickly, but if you are gung ho, take 223B, it will get you a little closer, then be prepared to bushwhack up hill for a mile to reach the AT.

In sum: 

I had a good time. I cannot say the same for my car.

GEORGIA: Wagon Drivers Hidden Falls

Honestly, I saw the icon for this on Google and went “Wait. I’ve never heard of a waterfall at Brasstown. What gives?”. What gives is an easy hike on the less beaten of trails at Brasstown Bald. While Wagon Drivers Hidden Falls isn’t a spectacular plunge pool monstrosity, it is the only waterfall you’ll get on the Bald. It’s also about halfway down the 7 mi stretch of Wagon Train Trail from the Brasstown Bald parking lot to the back of the dorms at Young Harris. Most importantly, you walk the easy half of the trail to reach it from Brasstown Bald. If suffering is more your thing, you can come up to it from Young Harris too of course.

Is it goat approved? You could probably bring a goat up from Young Harris, but a goat at Brasstown Bald might result in you becoming an Internet meme.

How you get there: Park at Brasstown Bald. You will have to pay for parking here – $3 in winter and $5 in the summer. Per person.

Time for hike: Wagon Train trail and the mini falls is visible on Google. To the mini falls is about 2.65 miles one way, or about 5.3 miles round trip. 

Best season to do this hike: Winter – you can see more of the views with the leaves off the trees.

Trails to Take

Starting off at the Brasstown Bald parking lot, go up the paved trail past the bathroom as if you are heading for the top of the bald. About a football field length up this trail Wagon Train Trail crosses as an unpaved roadbed. There is a historical marker if you’re into that sort of thing.

Old blasting grooves cut into the rock face

The historical roadbed dates from the actual time of wagon based travel in mountains. Originally built by convict labor to allow local families to meet and mingle, during certain parts of the hike the original blasting bores used to turn vertical rock faces into horizontal road bed may be seen. The fact that it is an old roadbed means the trail is wide, obvious, and for much of its length proceeds downhill at a leisurely and unexpectedly easy pace. I was told by another hiker however that shortly after the mini falls, and particularly on the last 2 miles before reaching Young Harris, the trail drops steeply. The walk to the falls though will be filled with exciting overlooks (in winter) and a deceptively easy grade.

Turn right onto the road bed, and a short walk through dense rhododendron thickets will lead you to a clearing where the forest service dumps fallen trees, and afterwards a vehicle gate followed by a trail kiosk. Further travel takes you along a ridge line of moss covered boulders overlooking distant valleys and a sign announcing entrance to the Brasstown Bald Wilderness. As a wilderness area is camp-able in GA there are two campsites on the hike that are very nearly in the middle of the trail.

View from the trail in winter
Brasstown Bald Observation Tower is just barely visible on top of the mountains

The trail descends slowly and easily following the ridge line, with continued impressive views, including a very distant view of the observation tower on top of Brasstown Bald itself. Watch the mileage counter as you descend among the moss, rock faces, and boulders – the waterfall is truly hidden and you have to stop and look to find it.

Part of the very well hidden Wagon Drivers Waterfall

The trail starts to drop more steeply, rounds a bend past the second of to extant stone fire rings, and shortly thereafter the 2.3mi trip ends at an unassuming stream crossing the trail. If you look to the right, moving around the rhododendron in wet weather, a small but pleasant cascade is visible. Is it big? No. Is it spectacular? Hardly. But on a wet winter’s day after 2.3mi of overlooks, rock walls, and spectacular mossy boulder fields, it doesn’t need to be. It just needs to be the turning around point.



  1. You will have to pay to park at Brasstown Bald.
  2. Tends to be popular on the Brasstown Bald end. The middle of the trail is pretty quiet.
  3. The trail is an old road bed, but there are boulders, wet spots, and uneven terrain which may make it unsuitable for very small children or people with bad knees in places. In general though, a relatively in shape person with a reasonable sense of balance or a pair of hiking poles will not have a problem.

In sum: 

Everyone thinks the dog is some fancy expensive breed. It’s actually just an unpapered muddy Great Pyrenees with expensive tastes. 

NORTH CAROLINA: Big and Little Bradley Falls

An easy hike in the Green River Game Lands off Hwy 26 just over the North Carolina line and right up the road from Saluda, this hike rewards you (usually) with just a single fall. Read on to find out why…

Is it goat approved? You could take a goat if you wanted, but the hike in is pretty short. 

How you get there: Parking is located at 35.262304, -82.284552 or you can Google “Little Bradley Falls”. There are numerous pull offs in the general area to take advantage of. 

Parking pull off

Time for hike: The trail to the little falls is visible on Google and is about 0.6 mi one way with 2 water crossings.  The trail to the big falls is placarded as hazardous, and with the river up I had to turn around at the first water crossing.  However, the trail to the big falls is scenic, and worth walking down to the ridiculous water crossing that requires swimming to cross. 

Best season to do this hike: Winter and preferably NOT in ice or after a heavy rain as the the water flow at the crossings you have to do is substantial. Significant down trees and signs of flood damage suggest this area is prone to catastrophic flooding after periods of prolonged rain and landslides. 

Trails to Take

Start off at the pull over. If you came in from Hwy 26 you want to cross over the river and the trail (RED BLAZE) goes up on the side of the mountain on the other side to your right. It is a bit hard to see the start – the trail climbs up the side of the mountain, it doesn’t run through the small flood plane at the base.  Once you are on the trail though it is easy to follow. 

Trail maintenance? Pah, we don’t have money for that!

The trail winds out through the woods. During my visit there were numerous fallen trees and significant ground subsidence and slides, probably from the heavy rain. While this area was protected, much of the route in had ice on the trees and the power lines were low over the road – visiting in winter storm advisory periods may not be advisable.

Beautiful stretches of scenic river

Anyway, the trail continues following the red blazes till you reach an intersection. The red blazes do in fact cross the stream – the trail that goes off to your left is an interesting (if covered in fallen trees) route out to more scenic and wild river. However, it doesn’t go to the falls – it appears to be the remains of an abandoned road given it’s width and the wild roses growing on it, which probably ran from the old home site at the parking area up to possibly another home site, though I turned around before reaching anything definitive. In any case, it won’t take you to the falls, go across the river to continue. 

First water crossing to Little Bradley. Don’t go left! 

You continue onwards, crossing another river and passing an old chimney stack at another home site, before ending at Little Bradley Falls at about 0.6 mi. Now turn around and head back!

Little Bradley Falls

Big Bradley Falls is on the same side of the road as the majority of the parking, and the trail begins behind a big wooden sign. It enters a wildlife opening, passing an old home site marked by periwinkle and day lilies. Follow the biggest trail through the wildlife opening and over to the mountain side.

Consolation falls before the impassable crossing to Big Bradley

The trail is wide, obvious, and  for a trail placarded as a death trap every twenty feet, surprisingly downed tree and deadfall free. There are numerous warning signs about the number of people who have died, how there are no safe viewing locations for the falls, and in general “abandon hope all ye who enter here” type signage. On this trip I didn’t even get to see the falls because the water crossing was flooded. Even when it is not flooded the center of the crossing is probably a good 4 to 5 foot deep, necessitating a swim rather than a wade. The trail continued beyond it and was well trodden, but it will have to wait for summer before I try swimming to the falls! If you happen to go in winter though, the river is beautiful, and a small consolation falls is worth a visit on this section of trail if it has recently rained. 


Trail map – there is an unmarked trail to Big Bradley Falls


  1. Not a lot of parking.
  2. Tends to be popular.
  3. You will have to cross water TWICE to reach Little Bradley Falls.
  4. Numerous signage indicates Big Bradley Falls may be a somewhat dangerous area to visit and the Forest Rangers are tired of fishing dead bodies out of the falls from people falling to their deaths. 

In sum: 

Good day out in an ice storm! 


This one is a nice beginner hike with some opportunities to bushwhack and increase the level of difficulty if you get bored easily. However, I would suggest no super small kids, gravity prone dogs, or lazy people. Also, ignore what the internet tells you – there is only 1 waterfall on this trail you don’t have to bushwhack (read: go off trail) to find, and it is not super spectacular!

Is it goat approved? Actually, I am thinking yes, and will be going back with a goat in the near future.

How you get there: Park at Cherry Hill Recreation Area (34.941790, -83.087822) and the trail head is inside the camping area and is well marked. There is also a trail head at the roadside.

Time for hike: The distance for this hike is about 7 mi out and back total if you go down to Winding Stair Campground, but to the falls it’s only about 2 miles out and backThe trail stays a continual moderate incline down a series of well made switchbacks on what was once an old gravel road bed. Very easy hiking for the terrain it covers!

Best season to do this hike: Advertised as a beginner trail, this one may be busy in summer. Winter and late Fall however, are very pleasant times to visit. Winter particularly would make the view of Miuka Falls a lot more impressive because the leaves won’t be blocking the water.

Trails to Take

The trail starts off at the Cherry Hill Recreation Area. You can park in the entrance to this campground during the off season (November till Spring) or if you come during the camping season at the trail head access just off the road. This access is just south of the entrance to the rec area.

The trail head and a part of the trail are visible on google maps as dotted lines – this can be helpful in figuring out where the trailhead is inside the camping area if you get turned around. The only area shown on google is the trail section down to Miuka Falls, NOT the full trail, which does in fact go down to Winding Stairs Rd/Winding Stairs Campground (3.5 miles one way from Cherry Rec to Winding Stairs Campground).

Miuka Falls (the bottom can be reached by bushwhacking)

Anyway, once you find the trail its easy, obvious, and follows the old road bed down the mountain in a series of very manageable switch backs. When you start hearing water at about 1 mile in look for a left hand side trail leading off. This takes you out to an overlook of Miuka Falls – the only waterfall easily accessed from the trail.

If you decide to continue the trail continues at the same easy grade. When the switchbacks end listen for water – there are waterfalls off to the right hand side of the trail if you are willing to bushwhack to them (google has Cane Creek Falls actually marked for you!). As you continue the hike if you have time spend some of it buckwhacking out to each spot of loud water – there are numerous little cascades and falls out here, but no others will be easy access from the trail or without the usual perils of buckwhacking, like falling to your death or getting eaten by bears :).

Anyway, have fun, and don’t get eaten by bears!

SIDE NOTE: If you go slightly north of Cherry Hill Recreation Area on Hwy 107 you will see Moody Spring, which my family always said George Washington drank at (who knows if it is true). You can drink at it yourself, it’s right off the highway, but make sure the warning signs aren’t up. They put up signs if the spring tests as unsafe with too much bacteria.



  1. Not a lot of parking.
  2. Trail head is at a campground with camper septic service – could get crowded in the summer. Trail ends at another campground!
  3. Saw a kind of strange dude going up and down the trail. Not sure what was up with that. Might not be a great place to join up with strangers to hike.

In sum: 

Hiking with dogs is a great way to get pushed off rocks to your death. Hiking with goats isn’t much better.

SOUTH CAROLINA: The Paris Mountain 10 Mile

Paris Mountain is a small park near Greenville, SC that contains some day worthy mileage. Originally the site of the water reservoirs that fed Greenville in the 1800s, during the Depression the lower reservoir was converted into a swimming hole and the surrounding acreage into a state park. The park contains plenty of picture worthy Civilian Conservation Corps “parktecture” along with the ruins of a fire tower watch station and the original dam and workings of the 1800s water supply system. All of which is fully explorable and enjoyable.

Is it goat approved? No, but it is dog approved.

How you get there: Google Paris Mountain State Park. To do the 10 mile hike you need to park at the very first parking area you come to, just past the entrance gate on your right above the first lake. There is a $5 entry fee per person to the park, cash only if you come early.

Time for hike: The distance for this hike is about 10 miles round trip in a loop. The trail varies from flat to moderately steep inclines.

Best season to do this hike: Year around. I did this hike in 94f and wasn’t super uncomfortable. For a relaxing weekend overnight, consider getting one of the primitive hike in only campsites on Reservoir #3.

Trails to Take

Start off in the first parking area you reach on your right after you pass the entry gate. This parking area is in front of a big picnic area above Lake Placid. Go down the hill from the parking area to the pedestrian bridge in the woods. This puts you on Lake Placid Trail. From here, follow the trail through a series of picnic areas to the main park office and swimming beach.

Pedestrian Bridge

Past the park office join up with Mountain Creek Trail (orange blaze), crossing a bridge that goes over a picturesque swamp at the end of Lake Placid. Beyond the bridge lies an old amphitheater where Strom Thurmond (if you are from South Carolina you will know the name) did speeches in the 1950s. Continue on Mountain Creek Trail for 1.3 miles until it intersects with Sulphur Springs.

Stay on Sulphur Springs for about a mile, climbing up a pine tree covered and very hot hillside. The trail levels at the top, then descends down to the park road and a small parking area perched on a ridge line. This downhill is a good spot to find half-dead mountain bikers pushing their steel steeds uphill  in a Sisyphis-like attempt to reach the far side. At the parking lot you want to go straight ahead on Brissy Ridge Trail, NOT down to the right of the parking lot. Brissy Ridge wanders off through some not particularly exciting woodland, eventually meeting up with Pipsissewa Trail.

Reservoir 3

Pipsissewa Trail is a bit misleading because it descends BELOW the actual level of Reservoir 3, then climbs back up to it, terminating at North Lake Trail. Go left on North Lake Trail to enjoy pictureseque and peaceful views of Reservoir 3, until you meet up with Kanuga Trail.

Kanuga Trail climbs up another hot, dry series of hillsides, twisting and turning past small springs, until it reaches the appropriate elevation, at which point it flattens out and runs along till you reach a well marked short cut trail that cuts across to Firetower Trail.

Firetower Station Ruins

Firetower Trail does NOT have a fire tower at the end of it. It does have the building foundations of an old fire station where rangers watching for fires lived. To complete the full 10 miles of this hike you need to hike out to this station, (it’s only about 0.5 mile one way), and then come back and continue straight ahead onto Sulphur Springs (Hikers Only).

Mountain Lake

Sulphur Springs (Hiker’s Only) is a steep downhill and contains the largest extant ruins and most picturesque scenery in the park per mile. The trail descends down and through a creek feeding into Mountain Lake, the original 1800s reservoir for Greenville. The path itself runs along what appears to be part of an original access road to the lake and the fire tower station. The downhill is steep, but the views at Mountain Lake and the large stone workings that form the dam of the lake are well worth the trip. At the lake dam you need to go DOWNHILL towards the interpretive sign and the stone cylinder to continue on the trail, not on the more obvious and wide road bed on the uphill side.

Mountain Lake Dam

Water Supply Ruins at Mountain Lake

Sulphur Springs passes an isolated gazebo in the woods, then terminates in a parking area. To return to your long lost car, cross the road on Sulphur Springs, make a right onto Mountain Creek, and follow it back out to the ranger station and along Lake Placid to the end of a great day of death marching.



trail map



  1. If you are planning to mountain bike this one be aware that trails do NOT allow mountain bikes on Saturdays and that during the remainder of the week some trails still do not allow biking. Mostly these sections are very prone to erosion or would be excessively challenging for bikers.
  2. The fire tower is not a fire tower – it is the house foundations of a keepers house, not the tower itself.

In sum: 

If you like to eat out this is the perfect hike. After 10 miles of sweat, tears, and possibly blood, you can go eat sushi, mexican, ice cream, or all 3 in Greenville in a matter of minutes.



SOUTH CAROLINA: Yellow Creek Falls

Yellow Creek Falls is a short, easy hike starting at a picnic shelter off Hwy 28 near Wahalla, SC. This is a great one for kids and fat dogs because the trail is mostly flat, it ends in a spectacular fall, and it is out and back. So let the kids run on ahead! Let the fat dog lay in the creek for a while! And take it easy on this 1.5 mile round trip hike.

Is it goat approved? No, but it is dog approved.

How you get there: Parking entrance  is at 34.804926, -83.127007 OR you can google “Yellow Fall’s Trail”. Parking is free here, unlike at the nearby Stumphouse Tunnel.

WARNING: Parking area is smaller than it appears!

Time for hike: The distance for this hike is about 3 miles out and back. The trail is pretty easy, with a few minor creek crossings. It ends at the falls.

Best season to do this hike: Year around, but may be excessively busy during the summer and other serious tourist seasons.

Trails to Take

From the central parking area, (which lies at the main large picnic shelters and has the pit toilet), the trail runs off to your left. It is the only trail leading away from the parking area. The path crosses several pretty creek crossings, peppered with dog hobble and foam flowers. Then it descends down a series of hills, following the curve of the slope  None of the route is very challenging. The final reveal is the 3 story tall Yellow Creek Falls at the terminus of the trail. For those wanting more excitement to their day than 3 miles the nearby Issaquena Falls and Stumphouse Tunnel offer further exploration opportunities, though you will have to pay to park there.

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Yellow Creek Falls






  1. Okay, there really isn’t much to warn you about this one. Except the picnic area is a little overgrown and the parking area is kind of small for the number of visitors.

In sum: 

A good trail can be judged by the number picturesque creek crossings you can find on it. This one has about 5 plus  a waterfall. It is a pretty darn good trail.



GEORGIA: Desoto Falls

Desoto Falls is named after Hernando de Soto, one of the first Europeans to visit the Southeastern United States. While taking the grand, (and very bloody), tour of South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, North Carolina, and possibly Louisiana he apparently dropped a piece of armor near these falls, giving them their name. Whether you remember him as the guy who murdered and pillaged his way across a continent while spreading diseases that would wipe out the vast and complex Mississippian Culture or you remember him as that guy who really should have gotten a haircut before the official portrait, these are still pretty good falls to go check out.


Is it goat approved? Nah. Busy, busy, busy.

How you get there: Google “DeSoto Falls, Georgia 30528”. The parking area is not very big (20 cars tops). It is possible this is a fee parking area, but I honestly can’t tell if the box is for campsites or for parking.

Parking Area

Time for hike: The distance for this hike is about  mile out and back. At this time the upper falls are closed.

Best season to do this hike: Year around.

Trails to Take

Leave the parking lot in the direction of the campground area. Follow the signs, which lead through the campground area, over a bridge, annd then you can go left to the lower falls (1/2 mile) and right to the upper falls (3/4 mile). Except of course for right now when the trail to the upper falls is closed due to debris and storm damage. The lower falls is kind of small and underwhelming, but I hear the upper falls is better.

Lower Falls

Upper Falls (courtesy of wikipedia)


  1. The upper falls trail is closed due to storm debris as of 12/2017
  2. The parking area only holds about 20 cars.

In sum: 

Seriously, what was he thinking? Hernando should have stopped at a barbershop on the way to the official expedition portraiture.

Just a little off the sides and it wouldn’t be so shaggy man!