Accessing the waterfalls on the lower end of Bearwallow Creek requires very long and difficult hikes. Most of the difficulty will be the length of the hike and change in elevation, but there is also some bushwhacking, and creek walking involved. Only the most experienced off trail hikers should attempt these hikes. If there has been a lot of rain in the area lately, don't even attempt the hike in. You have to cross through the Toxaway River and you won't make it alive if the river level is up too far. If you have the Bill Thomas guide you will see a series of old roads and trails leading down Indian Camp Branch, then down Bearwallow Creek. The upper end of the old road is private property before it enters park property and I haven't been in this way. The legal way is to park at the Frozen Creek access area and hike down the Auger Hole Trail (Auger Hole Rd). This road is closed to vehicles, but open to foot, mountain bike, and horse traffic. Hike about 3.5 miles to the Toxaway River passing the accesses to Double Drop Falls, Auger Fork Falls, Maple Spring Branch Falls, Chub Line Falls, Step Around Falls, and Wintergreen Falls. There is no bridge at the river and you will have to wade across. If the river level is up, you won't be able to cross because the current will be too strong. Use common sense!

Once across the river, continue on the Auger Hole Trail (road). In about 1/2 a mile and if you are paying attention, you'll notice the land on the left has come up to road level to form a ridge line. There's a faint trail here that leads down the ridge line. Lower Bearwallow Falls is down this way, but you have to choose a point a little ways down the ridge line where you have to steeply descend down the bank to creek level below the waterfall. You'll hear the waterfall, but if you go too far down the ridge line you'll end up at the top of the falls where you don't want to be. There are also rare plants in the area so please tread lightly if you go. Remember, if you get hurt down here, you are in serious trouble. Cell phones don't work down here and it's 4 miles back uphill to the parking area. Lower Bearwallow Falls is a 35' beauty that falls over a shelf. The park has pictures of this waterfall in several places, but may never construct an official trail to the falls. I've been to this waterfall several times over the past few years. In the next series of images taken over the span of several years, you can see how a tree fell across the top of the waterfall, then down into the waterfall.

The last picture was taken during lower water flow, so these also show how a waterfall's character can change with varying water levels. My last visit to Lower Bearwallow Falls was in November 2007 and the recent pictures I have seen show that the log is now gone. Please do not climb on the rocks around this waterfall! There are rare plants that live in the spray zone!

Back out on Auger Hole Trail (road), the trail crosses Bearwallow Creek in about another 1/4 mile. Before the creek is another gated old road on the right that runs up parallel to the creek, but well above it in elevation. If you were to take this road for 1-1.5 miles and knew where to descend to the creek, you could end up at Indian Camp Branch Falls. There's no marker, so you would need the Bill Thomas guide book, map and compass skills, and/or the ability to be able to program points into a GPS. The descent down to the creek is about 400' in elevation and is very steep!

The other option is to continue on the Auger Hole Trail (road) to Bearwallow Creek and bushwhack up the creek. The advantage to this is that there are other waterfalls and cascades along the way. The disadvantages are that it's very difficult, you'll have to wade in the creek, and it's 3 miles out and back, then you have the 4 mile hike back out and up to the parking area. Also, if you get hurt back in here and can't get back to the road, you will probably die. So you might just have to settle on looking at these pictures. I've been on this section of the creek twice now. The first time we did hike all the way in and out, but only bushwhacked up the creek a short distance. The second time we were able to drive in during the time 4x4 vehicles were allowed on Auger Hole Rd. So we drove in and parked near Bearwallow Creek, bushwhacked up the creek to Indian Camp Branch Falls, then climbed the steep bank up to the old road, then hiked the road back down to the vehicle. This last trip was in 2008 during the drought period, so water levels were low. The following pictures are a combination of both trips and begin at the Auger Hole Trail and head up creek. I've labeled the waterfalls that have names.


Bear Canyon Falls


Bear Canyon Falls


Bluff Falls


Indian Camp Branch Falls

 

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