Many people don't realize the abundance of beautiful waterfalls the state of South Carolina has to offer. The well populated waterfalls of North Carolina, the Blue Ridge Parkway and the Smokies most of the time overshadow the hidden gems in South Carolina. But thats what makes them special, giving you less crowded or well-known waterfalls to discover and explore for yourself.
South Carolina's waterfalls are located in three main counties in the Upstate: Oconee, Pickens, and Greenville. I've enjoyed exploring most of these waterfalls ever since I was young camping with my family, while as a student at Clemson University, and now as a SC photographer. One of my recent favorite destinations has been one I found while at college. If you're in the mood for an excellent 3-for-1 trip, Oconee's hidden Brasstown Falls surely will not disappoint.
Only about 35 miles outside of Clemson, Brasstown Falls is in the far west corner of the the state in Oconee County, barely inside the Sumter National Forest. This beautiful waterfall offers 3 distinct sections, each with it's own unique design. The upper section is Brasstown Cascades, middle section is Brasstown Veil, and lower section is Brasstown Sluice.
From Clemson, travel west on US 76 for about 16 miles into the small town of Westminster. Continue on US 76 West through the foothills for about 11.8 miles then turn left onto Brasstown Road. This road will turn into dirt road after about 2.6 miles. Continue on for about 1.5 miles and turn right onto FS 751 right before a small bridge over Brasstown Creek. A small parking area will be about 0.5 miles down the road. The easy/difficult trail begins past the boulders in the parking area.
Now, I say the trail is easy/difficult because there's no real difficulty at all walking to the first Brasstown Cascade, but to get to the lower two falls you will need to do some steep descending down the bank of the river. As you start out on the short trail you'll pass a few primitive camping spots off on the left. After the last camping area the trail veers to the right along Brasstown Creek. After only about 0.1 miles from the parking area, you'll reach the top of Brasstown Cascades on your left. The water pours gradually about 50 feet making for some nice water flow photography. You can walk out on the top or follow the trail further down to the calm pool at the base. During the warmer seasons you can easily walk out in the water to the base of the falls. Below are the scenes from Brasstown Cascades.
It's easy to think that is all of Brasstown Falls, but if you listen carefully you can hear the water continue to fall further down the river. This is when the trail gets a lot more rugged and steep. You'll see several paths that lead you down the slanted terrain, but I recommend taking the less dangerous ones further from the stream if possible. At one point you'll come very close to the edge of the cliff where you can see the beautiful Brasstown Veil from it's side.
Brasstown Veil plunges dramatically 35 feet with a great abundance of water flowing. This waterfall has great width and makes for some splendid waterfall shots. During the summer season you have green moss on the rocks making excellent foreground subjects to frame within the waterfall. Check out the pictures below as I take you down to Brasstown Veil.
Notice the rainbow in these next two!
The great thing about Brasstown Falls is...it's not done yet! That's right, probably my favorite section of all three comes next. After the water plunges down Brasstown Veil, it is forced further down the river into a narrowing creek as it dramatically turns and plummets down a big mass of rock - forming a sluice. This is another 35 ft. fall into a shallow pool at the base.
Once again, however, the hike down to the bottom of Brasstown Sluice is quite difficult as you're descending down steep terrain along narrow ledges. But the destination is worth it! The pool of water at the bottom makes for a perfect place to cool off during a hot day - because you will surely be sweating by then (if not from the humidity, maybe from the stress of not slipping down the ravine).
My favorite part about Brasstown Sluice is being able to wade out in the pool of water with my tripod to get different angles of the intriguing waterfall. Since the waterfall turns off toward the right, you're not offered a head on shot from the bank of the river - so its time to get yourself wet!
Also from the bank of Brasstown Sluice, if you get the angle right, you can look back up the cliffs and see all 3 sections of the spectacular Brasstown Falls.
US 76 has a lot of waterfalls along it. Recently, there have been roadsigns installed pointing most of them out. Alittle further up the road from the Brasstown Road is Reedy Branch Falls. This waterfall, however doesn't have a road sign (yet) but its only a short distance off the road.
From Westminster, follow US 76 West for 16 miles to Chattooga Ridge Road on the right. Drive past this road for 0.2 miles and turn left into a small unpaved parking areas on the left side of the road. There is a stone wall and gate parallel to the parking area.
The short trail to the waterfall takes you about 700 feet down the old roadbed past the gate. Turn left off the roadbed onto a small trail along the creek. Reedy Branch Falls will be a short distance ahead.
Finally, if you're interested, continue driving west on US 76 further toward the South Carolina/Georgia border and you'll run into the scenic and wild Chattooga River! This offers an excellent area to watch kayakers and rafters paddle over the Class V rapids of Bull Sluice. Lastly are scenes from this wild whitewater rapid.
Thank you for visiting my blog to read about the beautiful and hidden Brasstown Falls of Oconee County, South Carolina! I plan to write more blog posts about our spectacular waterfalls South Carolina has to offer. Until then, you can check out my South Carolina Waterfalls gallery!
Take care and God Bless!