waterfall on Fowler Creek
3-6-06 - Page 487 of Kevin Adams' new book talks about a waterfall on Fowler Creek in Jackson County. It's in the Ellicott Rock Wilderness area very close to Scotsman Creek. Bernie and John had scoped out the area a few weeks back and had found the falls, so Harry and I had to check it out too! Directions are from Lake Toxaway. Take Hwy 281 south from Hwy 64 about 10 miles (passing Whitewater Falls) into South Carolina. Turn right on the road that cuts over to Hwy 107. Take a right on 107, drive 2.3 miles (back into North Carolina) and turn left on SR1100. This is Bull Pen Rd, but I didn't notice a sign. Drive another 2.6 miles - the road changes from paved to gravel - pass the sign for Ellicott Wilderness Area and park on the right without blocking the gated road. The trail begins back at the sign.
Seeing this waterfall requires some semi-serious bushwhacking and/or boulder hopping - but not for a long way as the crow flies. Harry and I decided to take the Ellicott Rock Trail 3 miles down to the Chattooga River, follow the river the short distance up to Fowler Creek, then 'schwack up the creek to the waterfall. Ellicott Rock Trail begins by heading uphill, levels off for a bit, then loses about 800' in elevation as it joins the river. The trail is in good shape and is easy to follow. At 2.3 miles (according to the sign), a trail bears left towards Sloan Bridge - don't take this. Continue on the trail down to the river. Around this area, you can hear Fowler Creek to your right. This isn't the waterfall and will require another trip to investigate. As the trail begins to switchback to the river, you can hear the waterfall pictured above to your right. Bernie and John headed down somewhere in this area, but I don't know exactly where. I can tell you it's very steep and you don't want to come out above the falls.
There are some nice camp sites where the trail meets the river. Ellicott Rock is the point where NC, SC and GA meet and is just down river, so we figured we'd check it out. The trail continues down the left side of the river and the rock is maybe 5-10 minutes down. It's a huge boulder in the middle of the river, but nothing very exciting, so I left the camera in the bag. To get to Fowler Creek, head up river from the point where Ellicott Rock Trail meets the river. There's no trail, but we found the going fairly easy since the water levels were low. In higher water, you would have to do some river walking - safe in a lot of areas along the side, but avoid the deeper pools and fast flowing channels. Fowler Creek is less than 1/4 mile up the Chattooga. The waterfall pictured above is only about 0.1-0.2 miles up the creek, but you will have to pick your way very carefully. There are a couple of smaller falls along the way. When we got to the point to where I took the picture above, our only choice to get a better view of the upper section was to scramble up the very steep bank on the left, then work our way over and back down. This is the view - it reminded me of Courthouse Falls a bit, except wider.
The topo map shows the possibility of more waterfalls and cascades up creek from here, but we didn't have the time to explore any further on this day. We'll be heading back some time this summer...
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