12-17-17 Miuka Falls (aka Cheohee Falls) is a 75' high waterfall on West Fork of Townes Creek near the Cherry Hill Recreation Area on SC107. You have to scramble down a steep slope to get any kind of view from the base of the falls, so take that in consideration if you are looking for a photo op. If you aren't willing to do that, I would recommend going when the leaves are off of the trees. You'll at least have the view in the above photo from a very short spur trail. The waterfall is along the 3.4 mile long Winding Stairs Trail which drops 1000' in elevation as it winds down the mountain from 107 to the gravel Cheohee Rd. You can hike from either end. The hike from 107 is 1.2 miles one way and the hike from Cheohee Rd (aka Tamassee Rd) is 2.2 miles. If you are the adventurous type, the trail passes by Secret Falls on Crane Creek. There's a winter view of part of the falls from the trail, and a better winter view from a steep scramble trail. More on that below.
Directions: (Cherry Hill area parking) From the intersection of SC28 and SC107, drive north on 107 for 8.5 miles and park in the pull off on the right just before the Cherry Hill Recreation Area. Or, from the intersection of Wigington Rd (SC413) and SC107 near the SC/NC border, drive south on 107 for about 5.3 miles and look for the Cherry Hill Recreation Area on the left. Pass the recreation area entrance and pull in to the road side parking area on the left. You should see some yellow posts and the Winding Stairs Trail head. (Cheohee Rd parking) From the intersection of SC28 and SC107, drive north on 107 for 6.1 miles and turn right on Cheohee Rd. This is 7.7 miles south of Wigington Rd if you happen to be coming from that way. There was no road sign on my last visit in December 2017, but look for a Foothills Trail sign. Cheohee Rd almost immediately turns from pavement to gravel and the road is extremely narrow in places with a very steep drop off. Drive slow in case you meet someone coming from the other direction. Drive 3.2 miles (crossing the bridge over Crane Creek) and park on the left just before the second bridge over Townes Creek. A primitive camping area is on the right just passed the bridge. The Winding Stairs Trail begins at the back side of the parking area where you'll see an orange blaze on a tree.
From the Cherry Hill area, the hike begins by heading steeply up hill. At 0.2 miles, bear right on the Winding Stairs Trail. (The trail to the left heads down into the Cherry Hills Recreation Area which is closed in the off season.) Continue another mile to a right turn in the trail. You'll hear Miuka Falls on the left. Look for a short spur trail that leads to a rock and the view of the falls above. With the leaves off, you'll also have a view of Lake Cheohee shown in the 2nd photo below. To get a closer view of the waterfall, you'll have to scramble down the very steep goat trail towards the base of the falls. There are now fallen trees blocking the path towards a good view of the lower section, but you can get down to the sliding section of the falls for the obscured view in this next photo. Be very careful trying to find a good spot to shoot from down here. The rocks are very slippery!
If you don't mind the drive down the gravel Cheohee Rd, I think the better hike to Miuka Falls is from this end. The hike is 2.2 miles with an elevation gain of about 800', but it's really not that strenuous. Begin the hike at the back end of the parking area. The trail begins fairly level but gradually begins gaining elevation. West Fork of Townes Creek will be to your right and at .25 miles into the hike, you'll come fairly close to it. The trail then begins to bear left, heading west towards Crane Creek. At about .75 miles into the hike, the trail switchbacks to the right. Things get interesting after this. Remember above where I mentioned Secret Falls? Continue on the trail and switchback to the left. Not too far up on the left you should see a bit of Secret Falls through the trees when the leaves are off. Continue just a bit farther and at one mile into the hike, the trail switchbacks to the right again. You'll hear the waterfall, but can't see it at this point. Look on the left for a steep, faint scramble trail that heads down the slope. Just before the trail reaches the creek, there are several big trees that have fallen and I was able to get this view of the falls when I was there in December 2017. If you are coming down from Miuka Falls, this area is 1.2 miles farther down the Winding Stairs Trail.
Back in July 2004, my friend Harry and I did some exploring on Crane Creek. I did a write up and posted it here, but never saw the above view of the entire waterfall. There are more waterfalls above this as you can see and I intend to go back for another look in early 2018. I'm going to leave the old page up since it's in the search engines and people have been using it to find these other waterfalls, and will update this one as I get more info. Below are 3 of the old pictures from 2004 to show a bit of what we saw.
Crane Creek Falls
Yellow Jacket Falls
Back to the Winding Stairs Trail, continue on the trail past the point where you head down to Secret Falls. The trail continues it's steady uphill climb, but it's still not difficult at all. At 1.4 miles into the hike, the trail is approaching West Fork of Townes Creek once again and there's a switchback to the left. The sound of falling water makes it very tempting to leave the trail for more exploring - and I intend to one of these days really soon. Apparently others have as you may notice a faint scramble trail in this turn heading steeply down towards the creek. Continue on the trail to another right switchback, then another left one, then another right one. At the next switchback to the left - 2.2 miles up the trail - come to the short spur trail to Miuka Falls.
This entire area looks like it would be good for early spring wildflowers, so keep that in mind if you want to explore this area with the leaves off. Good luck and stay safe!
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