Sid's Falls

1-6-07  Ever heard of Sid's Falls?? Me either until my pal Bernie dug up some info from an older publication about South Carolina waterfalls. It is named in honor of Sid Ballenger who, along with Maxie Duke, put together the first known book of waterfalls and shoals in Oconee County. Sid's Falls is on public land on Shoulder Bone Branch which feeds into another branch which feeds into Opossum Creek which feeds into the Chattooga River. The old way in is no more, apparently covered in downfall from a hurricane that blew inland several years ago. Bernie had the smarts to check Google Earth and saw a road leading to very close to the waterfall. The problem was that the road ends about 1/4 mile from the waterfall and part of the rest of the way is thick with shrub leading to a steep descent to the waterfall. He spent hours scouting and cutting a path that now leads to the base of this beautiful 50' waterfall. This will now and forever be known as Bernie's Trail to Sid's Falls. Believe me, you will saying a thank you to Bernie if you get to see this one. You could do Opossum Creek Falls and this one in a day with no problem and will have seen 2 beautiful waterfalls.

Directions: For most of my trips to South Carolina, I come from the Lake Toxaway, NC area so my directions are from there. (If you are coming from SC, you might come in from the opposite direction on 28 or might choose to come in from the other end of Hwy 76.) From Lake Toxaway and Hwy 64, Take Hwy 281 south to the SC/NC state line. 281 becomes SC130 at this point. Drive a short distance and turn right on Wiggington Rd. There's a sign indicating the way to Hwy 107. Wiggington Rd dead ends into Hwy 107 after about 2 miles. Turn left and drive 12 or so miles until 107 ends at Hwy 28. Turn left, drive a short distance, and turn right on Whetstone Rd. Drive 1/2 a mile and turn left on Cassidy Bridge Rd. Drive another 7.4 miles to a stop sign and turn left on to Academy Rd. Drive 1.6 miles to another stop sign and turn left on Hwy 76. After only about 0.1 miles, turn right on Damascus Church Rd. Drive less than a mile and bear right on to Battle Creek Rd. Drive another 1.9 miles and notice Turkey Ridge Rd (FS 755) on the right. You would turn here to go to Opossum and Long Creek Falls, but continue another 1.9 miles to the gated, grassy forest road FS 2616 on the right. Park without blocking the gate.

The hike is about 1 1/4 miles one way and the first mile is an easy stroll down this grassy road. The last part isn't extremely difficult - if you've done any scrambling at all and are observant, you shouldn't have any problems. Begin the hike by walking around the gate and ignoring the first logging road that goes left. FS 2616 is a wide, grassy road that goes through, or around, four wildlife clearings. After about 30 minutes, you will come to the fourth clearing. Walk straight through and enter a young pine forest on top of a ridge. You may notice a faint trail. At the time of this hike, there was pink tape leading the way once we entered the woods. You'll be walking down a ridge line and you should start to notice the land sloping off on both sides of you. If they are still there, start looking for orange tape. You should start to notice clipped branches and cut limbs, especially as the pine forest turns to a shrubby, briary tangled mess. The sound of the Shoulder Bone Branch and the waterfall will be in the gorge to your right. You'll go a little past the waterfall, then cut around and down to a winter view of the falls through the trees. The thick shrub turns to more open rhododendron and the trail heads straight down to the base of the waterfall with plenty of stuff to hold on to on the way down. Next shot shows a couple of nasty dead trees in the view of a good photograph, but not taking away from the overall splendor. Back left is Bernie, then me and Harry in the front.

From that perspective, the waterfall doesn't appear that big, but I scrambled up the right side towards the base of the main drop for the next shot. The rocks were wet and slippery - if it's icy you'll be bustin' bum flesh.

There may be more cascades above this and I'm sure Bernie will find them probably sooner than later. I'll be making return trips to this beauty, especially when the foliage greens back up. This trip was just after some heavy rains and it will be interesting to see the waterfall in drier times. Send me a note if you get to go and let me know what you think!


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