8-30-03

Lee Falls takes a little more work to get to, but is one of the more beautiful waterfalls in South Carolina. It's close to Station Cove Falls and you could spend the best part of a day enjoying both falls. Coming from the Lake Toxaway area in NC, take Hwy 64 west to Sapphire and turn left down 281 south. Drive about 10 miles into South Carolina, passing Gorges State Park, Thompson River Parking and Whitewater Falls. From the border, the road becomes SC130 and ends after 10.3 miles at Hwy 11. Take a right on 11, drive 4.3 miles and take a right on Cheohee Valley Rd at what is now Sandy's Kitchen. Drive another 2.3 miles and turn left on Tamassee Knob Rd. After another 1/2 mile, turn right on Jumping Branch Rd, drive 1.5 miles and turn left on FS 715A. Look for a carsonite stake with the numbers and don't take the left on FS 715 that you'll pass first. Drive 0.7 miles down this gravel road to a parking area on the right, just before a small bridge. The trail begins on the other side of the gate.

I've seen this 1.5 mile trail rated difficult, but I'd have to disagree - more medium I'd say. It took us about 45 minutes to get to the falls. Following it was the most difficult part. From the gate, the old road bed enters a field and ends. The weeds and grass were knee to thigh high when we were there in late August '03, so if it has rained recently or there is dew, expect your feet to get soaked. Go through the field to the opposite end, pick up the road again and cross the creek. Head back into the 2nd of 4 fields and to the opposite end. Head into the 3rd field and do the same, cross the creek again and head into the 4th field. At the end of it, pick up the trail on the right side - away from the creek. The trail is still fairly wide at this point and at about a mile, it narrows and starts uphill. A few hundred feet from this area, the trail forks. Head left, cross a smaller creek and continue another 1/4 mile to Tamassee Creek. Other books say this trail is hard to follow, but it isn't. Cross the creek at the best place you see and follow the trail up the left side to the base of the falls. It gets steeper closer to the base and the ground is very loose, so be careful! You'll also be climbing up and over roots and rocks. Here's a shot from below the falls to give you an idea of the steepness.

It was tough finding a place to get a shot that wasn't too steep or a tree wasn't right in the way - like in this next shot. It does show the cascades right below the falls, tho. The main section of the falls is about 50' high.

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