Pinnacle Falls - Pickens County, South Carolina
Pinnacle Falls

4-21-17 - I first visited Pinnacle Falls back in January 2006 when my pal Bernie Boyer took me there. At the time, the only way we knew to go was through some private property off of SC178 near Rocky Bottom. I don't remember what the property was called at the time, but it's now Camp Hannon owned by Clemson University. At the time, the gate was open, there weren't any 'no trespassing' signs, so we went in and followed a trail up to the waterfalls. You can't do that any more, but come to find out that the upper falls (and maybe the lower one) are actually on public property owned by the SC Dept of Natural Resources and there's a legal way to come in from the top. I had seen this on a couple of trip reports by Andy and Jack back in 2015, but just got around to checking it out thanks to Steve Temple and Team Butterball. The hike is just over a mile and is on a combination of old logging roads and narrow trail. Some of that trail is a little steep and there's a big fallen tree you have to maneuver around, so I'll say it's moderate to difficult for the average hiker and not recommended for small children. The upper waterfall (pictured above) is maybe 50' high if you include the small drop at the very top you can't see from here and the cascades below the main section. It's a very beautiful post and I highly recommend going.

Directions:  From the intersection of SC178 and the F Van Clayton Memorial Hwy in Rocky Bottom, drive 1.5 miles up F Van Clayton Memorial Hwy and park in the wide gravel pull out on the left. This is the same road that goes up to Sassafras Mountain and there's a sign at the turn from 178 indicating that. You'll pass a kiosk on the left at the point where the Foothills Trail crosses the road, then pass a red gate, then arrive at the parking area. Just beyond the parking area is another red gate on the left and there's room for 1-2 vehicles to park without blocking the gate. You'll be hiking down this gravel beyond the red gate, but if you park in the gravel pull out, look for a trail that cuts over to that road.

Once on the gravel road, hike for about 0.4 miles to a crossing of Abner Creek on a nice new foot bridge. We thought this bridge was a bit fancy for it's purpose, so I'm not sure what the DNR has going on. As soon as we crossed, I noticed where it looks like a trail is being cut down the right side of the creek with another foot bridge, so maybe a new trail to the waterfall? Anyhow, continue on the road for less than 0.2 miles and cross the smaller Dogwood Creek. There's no bridge here. As soon as you cross, the road begins heading up, but you need to take the old dirt road to the left that heads back towards Abner Creek. Follow it for 0.3 miles of easy hiking until it ends. Now look mostly straight ahead for a narrower foot path that begins descending down towards the sounds of the waterfall. The trail is in good shape for the most part with several switchbacks, but a very large tree has fallen across the path part way down and we had to scoot up the steep bank and around the root ball to get past this. Don't wear your Sunday-go-to-meeting hiking pants because you may have to butt slide back down the other side. Towards the end of this trail, someone had added steps and a hand rail at some point in time. I'm guessing this was before the DNR owned the property, but I don't know. The reason I am absolutely sure this is DNR public land and not Camp Hannon property is that I compared my GPS track with the Pickens County GIS site. If you know how to use an online county GIS site, go to that page and click on the countywide GIS map link. Here's our GPS track in green.

The first good view of the waterfall is from an observation point before the trail ends. The first picture at the top of this page is the view from here. The trail then continues down a short distance and ends at a fairly flat rocky area. Depending on water levels, these rocks may be all wet and very slippery, so be careful! From here, if you look back and up on the opposite side of the creek, you'll see another observation deck. This is where the trail coming up from the camp ends. It's also on public property according to the map. There's also a lower waterfall that can be accessed from that trail, but I didn't go on this last visit, so I don't have a GPS waypoint for it. My best guess by looking at the GIS map is that the camp property begins just below the lower falls. I hope to get back there soon to get some more GPS readings and to nose around a little more.

Pinnacle Falls - Pickens County, South Carolina
4-21-2017

Pinnacle Falls - Pickens County, South Carolina
5-31-2010 from the deck across the creek

Pinnacle Falls - Pickens County, South Carolina
1-21-2006

lower Pinnacle Falls - Pickens County, South Carolina
lower Pinnacle Falls  1-21-2006

 

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