Wildcat Wayside Falls
5-2-16 - Wildcat Wayside Falls is (aka Wildcat Branch Falls) one of the very few waterfalls that are roadside and wheelchair accessible. There are actually 4 waterfalls at this stop and the area is officially known as the Greenville Wayside Park even though the big sign near the waterfall says Wildcat Wayside. The area is also part of the Mountain Bridge Wilderness Area. It had been several years since I left the parking area to explore the upper areas and apparently there has been a big transformation. Several web sites I just saw stated that the trail to the upper falls is closed, but it is now open and is a loop trail which will take you by another smaller waterfall. The trail is about a mile and a half if you do the loop and is kid friendly for the most part. People have died and have been injured at the upper falls, but only because they climbed where they shouldn't have been climbing, slipped and fell. Use common sense and you will be fine.
Directions: There are several ways to get here. From Hendersonville, NC get on I-26 east and exit on to US25 at exit 54. After about 9 miles or so, cross into South Carolina, drive another 7 miles and exit on to SC11. Turn left (south), drive just over 4 miles and merge right on to US276/SC11. From here it's 4.7 miles to the waterfall on the right. There's a wide paved area, a big sign, and during the summer you'll probably see somebody selling boiled peanuts. In another 1/2 mile, 276 splits off of 11 to the right and heads up towards Caesars Head State Park.
Wildcat Wayside Falls - lower falls
From road level, you can see 2 sections of the waterfall. The Thomas King book refers to these as 2 separate waterfalls - lower and middle - and there is enough room in between the 2 to make that call. Neither one of the above pictures shows that because I went down from road level to the pool level where you can't see the middle falls. The lower falls is 20-30' high. To get to the middle waterfall, look for the stone steps leading up the left side of the lower waterfall. The yellow blazed trail crosses the creek right in front of the middle falls, but you can hop the rock up towards the waterfall for a closer view. This waterfall is about 8-10' high.
middle falls - Wildcat Wayside Falls
Once across the creek, the trail heads up hill a short distance to an information kiosk with a trail map of the area. Just past this is what's left of the old picnic shelter - the chimney and foundation. A placard explains that in the 30's the National Park Service experimented with little Wayside Parks along major highways. This was one of 6 such areas in South Carolina. From the chimney, continue up the trail for a very short distance to the beginning of the loop. Taking the left trail, cross the small creek on the rocks and continue to the upper waterfall which is about 1/2 mile from the parking area. Here you will see signs warning you of the dangers of climbing the rocks beyond where the trail goes. At the very bottom of the drop is a jumble of boulders, but the trail will take you up to a flat part where you can safely view the water sliding down the huge rock wall. This waterfall is listed at 100' high, but that might include the boulder part also. Either way, it's worth the hike if the water is flowing and would be really impressive in high flow. During periods of dry weather, this creek can be only a trickle.
Wildcat Falls - upper waterfall
To continue the loop, come back down from the viewing area and be sure to stay to the left to pick up the trail. In less that 1/4 mile, the trail passes a small 15' sliding waterfall on a tributary of Wildcat Branch. I don't think this one has a name and water flow was quite puny during this last visit.
Finish the loop by continuing past the waterfall and back to where you crossed the creek at the loop's beginning. Kudos to the South Carolina park system for making this a really nice area again! A video of all 4 waterfalls is below.
back to my SC waterfalls page