Yellow Branch Falls
11-3-15 This is perhaps one of the most beautiful waterfalls that I have been to so far. I've been here several times now and will never get tired of going back. Plan to go after some decent rain, however. Water flow can be rather puny during a dry spell. The hike to this 50' beauty is about 1.5 miles and is easy to moderate in difficulty. If water levels are above normal, you may have to get your feet wet to get all of the views, so be prepared. I bring a pair of sandals when I go. A few years ago, a big tree fell into the right side of the falls. All 3 shots here are from 11-3-2015, so either most of it has broken off, or somebody has been cutting on it and that's all that is left.
Directions: Yellow Branch Falls is about 6.5 - 7 miles west of Walhalla, SC on SC28. From the Asheville area, take I-26 east towards South Carolina. Pass Hendersonville and take exit 54 and follow US25 south for 16 miles into South Carolina and exit at SC11. Turn left towards Cleveland on Hwy 11 and drive 4.5 miles to a stop sign. Turn right to stay on 11 (which is now also US276, but stay on Hwy 11 when 276 splits off) and drive 44 miles to SC28. Exit Hwy 11 on to SC28 west towards Walhalla. Drive through town, then another 6.8 miles to a left turn into the Yellow Branch Picnic area on Yellow Branch Rd. Check your maps or GPS's for other ways to get to this area.
As soon as you make the turn on to Yellow Branch Rd, look to the left and note the trail head here. This is one end of the Nature Loop Trail. If you want (and we did on our most recent trip), you can begin the hike here. There's space for a car or 2 to park here. Otherwise, drive the short distance to the end of the road and park here. Look to the left for the kiosk with a map to the waterfall. The other end of the Nature Loop Trail starts here and both ends will take you to the beginning of the orange blazed Yellow Branch Trail to the waterfall. Here's a hint, though. If you take the one near the kiosk, you'll have to cross the creek twice before you get to the Yellow Branch Trail. If the water is high, you'll be getting your feet wet. If you take the trail head just as you turn on to Yellow Branch Rd, you won't have any creek crossings before you get to the Yellow Branch Trail. Either way, it's about 0.2 miles to the beginning of the Yellow Branch Trail. Take the steps down and go a short distance to a foot bridge over Yellow Branch. Hike another 5 minutes or so and come to the creek again. This time there is no foot bridge, but there's a really big log across the creek that you can cross on if you have good balance, or if the creek is low enough you can jump across, or you may have to get your feet wet. You'll notice a trail that heads down the right side of the creek. It's not an official trail and isn't maintained, but it follows Yellow Branch to the top of the falls, then there's a steep goat trail down to the base. We went this way once and I don't recommend it. There's only one thing the see at the top of the waterfall and that's Death waiting for you at the bottom.
Back on the real trail and across the creek, you'll have a nice hike through a hardwood forest. Now that the trail is blazed, it's easy to follow all the way to the waterfall. You'll lose the sound of the creek back at the last crossing, but pick it up again as you get closer to the falls. Trees block the view of the falls right when you get to it, but climb up on the rocks to the right for a better view. To get the view in the above picture, cross the creek. You may or may not have to get your feet wet here depending on water levels. To get the view in the picture below, either go straight across and scramble up the bank behind the big rock and come out on the other side, or wade up to the waterfall and rock hop your way over and to the left. This way you can get really close to the falls and cool off in the spray on a hot summer day. You'll need a wide angle lens to get the entire waterfall in the frame from here. If you are careful, you can climb the bank behind you, then get up on the big rock for the angle in the second shot below.
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