Jones Gap Falls
1-1-16 - Cindy and I chose Jones Gap State Park for our first hike of the New Year and as I was updating my blog, I looked at this page on my site and saw that I hadn't updated it since 2006 when part of the trail was closed. Sorry about that! The trail was repaired years ago and is in good shape. The hike to the 50' Jones Gap Falls is along a section of the Jones Gap Trail. It's just over a mile long and is easy to moderate in difficulty. Sections of the trail are rocky which can be hard on ankles and knees. The hike and waterfall are kid friendly and the trail follows the beautiful Middle Saluda River all the way to the waterfall. There's a $5 per person daily fee, so be sure to bring cash. Pay at the parking area. If you plan on visiting several of the SC state parks in the span of a year, I suggest getting one of the South Carolina State Parks passports. It will pay for itself after a very few visits.
Directions from Brevard: Take US276 south from the center of town for about 12 miles into South Carolina. Pass Caesars Head State Park, the parking for Raven Cliff Falls trail, and continue down the curvy road for several more miles to a stop sign where 276 meets Hwy 11. Turn left - Hwys 276 and 11 share this stretch of road for about 6 miles. At about 1/2 mile you'll notice Wildcat Branch Falls on the left. Continue on 276/11 for about 4.5 miles and turn left at the F-Mart on to River Falls Road. Drive 5.4 miles and the road ends at Jones Gap State Park. Parking is just a couple of hundred yards up on the right.
If you are coming from the Asheville area, you can get on I-26 east and head towards South Carolina. Pass the Hendersonville exits and continue to Exit 54 (US25 south). Take this exit, follow US25 for 10.3 miles and turn right on Gap Creek Rd. Follow Gap Creek Rd for 5-6 miles until it ends at River Falls Rd. Turn right and continue to where the road ends in the park.
When you turn into the parking area, look to the left for a trail. This is the trail you'll begin on after you park and pay. The trail crosses the Middle Saluda River on a foot bridge, then continues past the old fish hatchery pool, the rest rooms, and the visitor center. Cross the river again on the left and the Jones Gap Trail begins on the right at the information kiosk. The trail is blue blazed and is very easy to follow. It passes several walk-in camp sites along the river, then comes to a fork after about 3/4 of a mile from the start. The red blazed trail to the right will take you up to the beautiful Rainbow Falls, but stay to the left and continue following the Jones Gap Trail. In a short distance you'll cross to the right side of the river on a foot bridge. In another tenth of a mile or so, the trail crosses the tributary that Jones Gap Falls is on. As soon as you cross, take the side trail up about 100 yards to the waterfall.
The rock at the base of the falls is interesting and adds to the character of the waterfall. It's best seen after some decent rainfall. I've been during really dry periods and the falls wasn't even worth taking a picture of. It's still a very nice hike and you'll see some nice scenery along the river. The Jones Gap Trail continues up river for a total of 5.3 miles and ends on US276 near Caesars Head SP. There are a few more named cascades along this section of trail and I hope to add them all eventually. On most recent hike on this trail, we made it to Toll Road Falls. It's a small waterfall right next to the trail. To see it, continue past Jones Gap Falls for another mile or so. At this point, the trail begins to bear right and away from the river. Pass the orange blazed Coldspring Branch Trail on the left and continue a very short distance to a foot bridge at the base of the falls.
Toll Road Falls
In periods of dry weather, this waterfall may only be a trickle. With the leaves off of the trees, you can see another waterfall up creek from this one. There's no trail up to it and the creek below the waterfall is covered with downed trees and limbs. It's about 20-25' high and would be a nice waterfall if it weren't for all the clutter in front of it. I did manage to scramble up to the rock wall to get this side view of the waterfall.
back to my SC waterfalls page