Moonshine Falls - Mountain Bridge Wilderness Area, South Carolina
Moonshine Falls

11-2-17   Moonshine Falls in the Mountain Bridge Wilderness Area is a must see for every waterfall lover. The 40' falls has a plunge section that you can walk behind which isn't very common for waterfalls in South Carolina. The hike to Moonshine Falls is 3 miles one way and isn't that difficult, but there's a tricky cable crossing across Matthews Creek that you have to negotiate unless water levels are down. Because of this, I would not bring small children. If you want to visit Confusion Falls, add another 1/4 mile and a steep descent to the hike. When I first visited Moonshine Falls in 2002, part of the trail was over private property, but the landowner didn't mind if folks passed through. The land has since been sold and the current landowner put a stop to that. Luckily, the kind folks at Asbury Hills Summer Camp & Retreat off US276 stepped up to the plate and now allow the public to park and hike through their property, except during the May 15 - August 15 time frame when summer camp is in session. You must call ahead and get permission during the time when the public is allowed to hike! Do not go without calling ahead to make sure it's OK - 864-836-3711 9am-5pm. If you plan on hiking on the week end, call during the week when the office is open. There are also other trails that are completely on public property that lead to Moonshine Falls. They are longer and more difficult. I haven't done those trails yet, but my friend Brenda Wiley has and has a great write up on her web site here.

Directions: From Brevard, NC take US276 south into South Carolina to the Caesar's Head State Park visitor center on the right. Continue south on 276 for another 5.7 miles and turn right on to Lakemont Rd at the Asbury Hills Camp and Retreat sign. If you are coming from SC11/US276, head north on 276 at the split for 1.6 miles and turn left on Lakemont Rd. Go a very short distance and turn right on to Asbury Dr. The public parking area is 0.6 miles down this road, but you'll come to a gate where you may need a pass code to get in. You did call ahead didn't you?? At 0.6 miles, turn left on Lake Rd just past a little hiking info booth and park in the spaces provided. Lake Rd dead ends in the parking area. The trail begins at the end of the parking area on the Asbury Trail.

Begin the hike on the red blazed Asbury Trail. The trail leads up to a small lake, then continues past the lake and into the woods. It's a little steep at first, but levels out a bit about 0.4 miles in. There are several other trails off of the Asbury Trail, but I've only taken one of them. At about 1.3 miles into the hike, look for a sign for Cascade Falls to the right. It's only 0.1 miles to this nice little cascade on Matthews Creek shown below.

Cascade Falls - Asbury Hills Camp, South Carolina
Cascade Falls - Asbury Hills Camp

From the Cascade Trail split, continue another 0.3 miles to the cable crossing over Matthews Creek. If the water level is low enough, you may be able to rock hop across or you might be able to find a safe place to wade across if the cables freak you out. As you can see, you hold on to the upper cable and shimmy across with your feet on the lower cable. Just slide your feet and hands, don't lift your feet off the cable. I'm not sure just how tall you need to be to do this safely, but my wife is 5'2" and she did fine.

cable crossing at Matthews Creek
cable crossing at Matthews Creek

Once across, continue a short distance on the trail and come to a wooden post with pink blazes indicating the Naturaland Trust Trail. Turn right and follow the trail and pink blazes for 0.5 miles and look for an obvious stack of rocks. The Naturaland Trust Trail bears left, but you turn right and continue on an unmarked old road. In a very short distance you'll see a wooden kiosk 'hot spot', so you know you are headed in the right direction. Continue on this trail for another 0.5 miles to where branches have been laid across the road so you don't go any farther. Just ahead is the creek that Moonshine Falls is on. Turn right here on the trail at the rock stack, go a short distance and look for the trail on the left that goes down to behind the upper section of Moonshine Falls. Notice that a faint trail continues down the ridge. This is the way to Confusion Falls if you plan on going here.

Moonshine Falls was the site of still years ago and there are still 55 gallon drums from the operation that was run there. It's a really cool area and there are a lot of opportunities for photos. There's no camping allowed here and please don't be one of the pigs that leave their trash behind as others have. There's also a scramble trail that will take you to creek level for a view of the waterfall shown in the first picture on this page. Below are more photos from behind the falls.

Moonshine Falls - Mountain Bridge Wilderness Area, South Carolina

Moonshine Falls - Mountain Bridge Wilderness Area, South Carolina

Moonshine Falls - Mountain Bridge Wilderness Area, South Carolina
Moonshine Falls

To get to Confusion Falls, head back up to the top of the trail where you came down to Moonshine and continue on the trail down the ridge line. Back in 2006, there was no trail at all and the waterfall wasn't that easy to find. It's easier to find now, but it still requires a steep descent to get a view. Follow this trail for about 0.1 miles. On my last visit in November 2017, there were a few pink ribbons along the trail, but don't count on them being there when you go. At the point where the trail begins to get steeper, the trail continues straight and down hill. The more direct way is to head off to the left at this point and work your way down hill towards the sound of the waterfall. Just be sure to end up below the waterfall. If you go straight instead of left, the trail begins to bend to the left towards the creek as it drops and comes out at the creek below the waterfall. Follow the creek up to a smaller waterfall, and then up to Confusion Falls. Confusion Falls isn't very tall, but it's formed as 2 creeks come together as you can see in the photos below. If you use topo software or apps, look for this point on the map.

Confusion Falls - Mountain Bridge Wilderness Area, South Carolina

Confusion Falls - Mountain Bridge Wilderness Area, South Carolina
Confusion Falls

 

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