Upper Bearwallow Falls
Bearwallow Creek drops about 1700 feet in elevation during it's 5 mile meander through Gorges State Park before it empties into the Toxaway River. There are numerous falls and cascades along the way and it's one the region's most beautiful streams. Upper Bearwallow Falls lies just inside the north side of the park. The creek drops 200-300' in elevation in this area and the waterfall is in sections, flowing over exposed bedrock. The section of the waterfall in the above photo is up creek from the section of the waterfall that you would see from the overlook on the Bearwallow Falls Trail. Unfortunately there isn't an official trail yet to this view. The next picture is looking down creek from where I was standing for the 1st shot.
Actually, the drop off is not as steep as it first looks, but a slip from here would probably be the last thing you ever did - alive. The next shot is looking down from the previous shot.
There is a safe, but steep trail down the east side of the creek beside the waterfall and that's how we were able to get down to these views. Down the trail from here and back out on the rocks gave us this next view of the waterfall.
The next section of the waterfall is the part you can see from the overlook. From here it doesn't appear to be as steep as it does from the overlook.
Below this section is another 8-10' waterfall. One could argue that it's not really part of Upper Bearwallow Falls, but it's definitely worth a look if you've made it down this far.
Below is a video of the entire waterfall from the different vantage points. It begins with the view from the observation deck.
Below Upper Bearwallow Falls is a section of creek about a mile long that I haven't explored yet. The topo map doesn't show much drop in elevation, but I would think there would be a few small cascades along the way. The creek then crosses one of the old logging roads above the 4 waterfalls that used to be referred to as just Paw Paw Falls. They are definitely 4 individual waterfalls and the park has given each one a name. From top to bottom they are Indian Camp, Split Rock, Chute, and Paw Paw Falls. There was a plan to put in a trail to these waterfalls, but it would have required an elaborate set of stairs. The estimates were beyond what the park was willing to spend and that plan was put on hold. If you know how to read a map, get the Friends of Gorges trail map and figure out how to get to the old road that crosses above Bearwallow Creek above the waterfalls. Once you get to Bearwallow Creek, it's all bushwhack from here and it's very steep in places. Do not attempt this if you don't have any off trail experience!
The first waterfall - Indian Camp Falls - isn't very far down from the road as the crow flies. The waterfall is a sliding type, but the creek takes a sharp left at the base of the falls.
Indian Camp Falls
Just around the bend to the right is the top of Split Rock Falls. It's the least impressive of the waterfalls in my opinion, but still has some character. It's hard to tell from this next shot, but the waterfall is about 20' high.
Split Rock Falls
Chute Falls is the 3rd waterfall in the series. We were able to get out on the rocks at the top of the waterfall fairly safely, but getting down to the base was no easy chore.
The last waterfall in the series is still called Paw Paw Falls and you may have seen pictures of it in park literature. Below that is video from my latest visit to these last 4 waterfalls I just talked about. We began at Paw Paw Falls and worked our way up ending at Indian Camp Falls.
Paw Paw Falls
From Paw Paw Falls, Bearwallow Creek flattens out and flows for about 1/2 mile before meeting Jake's Branch. It then continues for another 1/4 mile before meeting Indian Camp Branch, then falling over Indian Camp Branch Falls. This area is in the heart of Gorges State Park and there is no easy way in. To read how to get to this area and to Lower Bearwallow Falls from Auger Hole Rd, please click this link.
back to Gorges State Park main page