Auger Fork Falls
7-27-17 Out of all of the backcountry waterfalls in Gorges State Park, these might be the easiest to get to - but don't let the word easiest fool you. The trek to these waterfalls is no stroll in the park. The 2 main waterfalls on this hike are the 50' Auger Fork Falls (Auger Fork Cascades) and the 80' Maple Spring Branch Falls, and you can also visit 2 smaller waterfalls along the way if you are willing to bushwhack down a steep bank. The majority of the 2.5 mile hike to these falls is along Auger Hole Trail (Auger Hole Rd), but the sketchy scramble trail down 200' in elevation to the 2 waterfalls should make you think twice about going if you don't have much off trail experience. The good news is that these 2 waterfalls are accessed from the same spot. Maple Spring Branch flows into Auger Fork Creek right behind where I am standing for the above picture!
From the parking lot on Frozen Creek Rd, take the Auger Fork / Cane Brake Trail which begins to the left of the info kiosk. The trail begins as a foot path, crosses Frozen Creek on a foot bridge, then merges with Auger Hole Rd at about 0.2 miles in. The trail is blazed with both orange and yellow tags nailed to trees. Turn right on the road and continue up the trail. The road gains about 250' in elevation in the 0.6 miles to where the 2 trails split off from one another, with most of the uphill being near that junction. At the trail split, turn right and continue on the Auger Hole Trail following the orange blazes.
The rest of the hike is mostly downhill as you head towards the Toxaway River and you'll lose 500' in elevation before getting to the point where you need to leave the road to see the 2 main waterfalls. At 1.7 miles into the hike, you'll hear what sounds like a waterfall through the trees on the left if water levels are good. You can barely see the falling water when leaves are on if you position yourself just right. This is Double Drop Falls and is one of the bonus waterfalls you can see. If you look around for a trail down, you'll notice that there isn't one. The only way down is via a bushwhack. At this point, look for a large poplar tree with a split at the base on the left side of the road. From here, walk back up the road a few paces, look for a small drainage area, and head straight down. This will bring you to the creek just below the waterfall. If this looks too steep, you can try going down the road past the poplar tree a short distance to where the bank isn't as steep. Angle down towards the waterfall and try to be back to where it's straight down to the waterfall before you get to the thick dog hobble. Double Drop Falls is only about 15' high, but it has kind of a tropical feel in the summer with all the moss and vegetation. Below are a couple of shots of the waterfall and you can also see it at the beginning of the video at the end of this page.
Double Drop Falls
Back up at the trail, keep going down the road and at about 2 miles into the hike, look for an overgrown old CCC road veering off to the right. It's really easy to miss, and that's fine because you don't want to take it. The reason I mention it is because it's shown on the Friends of Gorges trail map. Keep going down the Auger Hole Trail for a total of 2.5 miles from the parking area to a right hand bend in the road. Just before this bend, look through the trees on the left down towards the creek and you'll have a pretty good view of another small waterfall on Auger Fork Creek. There's no trail to it either. If you want to attempt a closer view, go down the road a few steps farther and look for the logs at the edge of the road. It's a little less steep here and a good place to begin the descent. As far as I know, the park hasn't given this waterfall an official name and it's not shown on the Friends of Gorges trail map. It's a nice little falls and I thought it was picture worthy.
waterfall on Auger Fork Creek
Now for the good stuff. There is a very faint unofficial trail down to the main 2 waterfalls and you are very close to it at the point where you can see the above waterfall. Begin heading into the curve to the right, but before you get to the middle of the curve, look on the left for a very faint foot path. On my last visit in July 2017, there was a small blue survey flag in the ground right at the trail and a piece of survey tape tied to a tree down the trail a short distance. Don't count on this being here when you go! Someone has also tied flagging tape along the trail most of the way down to the waterfalls. The trail isn't really steep to begin with as it heads down a ridge line and will soon bring you to a little knob. At this point, the tape leads off to the right and down a steep rock face for a short distance. Notice however that a trail also leads off the left side and down towards the creek. You can go down here, then immediately start looking for a way to head to the right which will bring you back to the point below that steep rock face. From here, the trail is straight down through the rhododendron to the base of Auger Fork Falls.
There are 3 sections to Auger Fork Falls. You can get up close and personal with the bottom section, but please don't attempt to climb up to see more. The waterfall is covered with lush moss, liverworts and other spray community plants that are easily disturbed. It would take them years to grow back and it's just not worth getting that picture that you think no one else has.
Auger Fork Falls
Maple Spring Branch Falls is directly opposite Auger Fork Falls. The bottom 15' or so of the falls is visible from the base of Auger Fork Falls, but most of that is hidden in the thick rhododendron. The good stuff is just out of sight up to the left. To get up there, go to the right of that bottom section and look for the scramble path up. It's steep and slippery, so be very careful! Not too far up is a fairly level spot where you can see the rest of this beautiful waterfall. You will also have an excellent view over to Auger Fork Falls as shown in the picture above. Maple Spring Branch Falls is also covered in lush vegetation, but has a lot of clutter at the bottom of this section. A lot of it is covered in moss indicating that it's been here a while. The rock up here is extremely slippery, so don't attempt to climb up any farther than this. Help is many hours away if you get hurt! Below are a couple of shots of this section of the waterfall. Bring a zoom lens for some nice isolation shots. Good luck and stay safe!
Maple Spring Branch Falls
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