Sids Falls - Oconee County, NC
Sid's Falls

6-14-20  I first posted directions to Sids Falls in January 2007 after my good friend Bernie Boyer rediscovered this 50' high beauty. The waterfall wasn't known as Sids Falls at that time. Years ago, it was accessible via trail from the nearby Opossum Creek Falls area. In 1994, strong storms caused severe damage to the area and that trail was littered with fallen trees and storm debris. The trail was never cleared and the waterfall was forgotten for the most part. Years later, Bernie found the waterfall mentioned in an older publication about South Carolina waterfalls published by Sid Ballenger who, along with Maxie Duke and John Danner, put together the first known book of waterfalls and shoals in Oconee County. Bernie had the smarts to check Google Earth to locate the falls and saw an old road leading to very close to the waterfall on the satellite imagery. The problem was that the road ended well short of the creek that the waterfall is on. The only thing to do was to go check it out. He made several trips back and spent hours scouting and cutting a path through the thick rhododendron that now leads to the base of this beautiful 50' waterfall. This will now and forever be known as Bernie's Trail to Sids Falls. Believe me, you will saying a thank you to Bernie if you get to see this one.

Maxie Duke had wanted to officially name this waterfall Sids Falls after her good friend Sid Ballenger passed away in 1991. She applied to the US Board of Geographic Names in 1993, but the name was rejected since the waterfall had not been recognized by that name and Sid had no attachment to the land. Since that time, my good friend and fellow waterfaller Renee Hattenstein (who runs this web site on Oconee County waterfalls) met with Maxie to talk waterfalls. Renee decided to reapply to have Sids Falls become official and did so in late 2014. I had been calling the waterfall Sids Falls (unofficially) since 2007 and others had picked up on that name, so that covered the requirement of a waterfall being known by a name for a length of time. In April 2016, the name was accepted and Sids Falls is now the official name!

After Sids Falls became better known, other waterfall explorers began investigating the surrounding area and came up with 2 more excellent falls - Maxie Duke Falls and Sparkle Falls. Neither one of these names is officially official, but these are the names they are now known by. I'll talk about these waterfalls below. The hike to Sids is about 1.5 miles one way. For the most part it's fairly easy along a gated old forest road. The last part of the trail that leads to the base of the falls is very steep, however, but there are roots and rhododendrons to hold on to on the way down. You might want to wear shoes that you don't mind getting wet to get the different photo ops available. Sids Falls is on public land on Shoulder Bone Branch which feeds into Sawhead Branch which feeds into Opossum Creek which feeds into the Chattooga River.

Directions: From the intersection of US76 and Damascus Church Rd in Long Creek, turn on to Damascus Church Rd. Drive less than a mile and bear right on to Battle Creek Rd at the Chattooga Belle Farm. (Damascus Church Rd bears left at this point, but is gravel.) Drive 1.9 miles and notice Turkey Ridge Rd (FS755) 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 FS2616 on the right. Park here without blocking the gate. If you see Damascus Baptist Church on the right, you just passed FS216.

Most of the hike is along this road. It's fairly level for the 1st mile and passes wildlife clearings along the way. At 1 mile into the hike, be sure to bear left at a wildlife clearing that will be on the right. In another 0.25 miles, the road ends and a trail continues into the pine forest as a single track. Pay close attention and you shouldn't have any problem following this trail. In another 0.2 miles, the trail splits. Left goes steeply down to Maxie Duke Falls that I'll talk about below, but you want to go right to go to Sids Falls. From here the trail drops steeply for about another 0.1 miles and comes out at the base of the waterfall. You'll have the view shown in the photo at the top of the page that was taken in June 2020.

Of course you'll want to scramble up the rock for a better view and you should be able to do it safely if water levels aren't too high. The water isn't deep here, but if water levels are up you might have to get your feet wet and walk on rock with water flowing over it. Some of the rock here is really slippery. The next 2 photos were taken in January 2007. The 1st one has Bernie (with the stick), Harry, and me at the base of the falls. At the time, there were huge logs in the view, but as you can see from the 2020 photo, they have washed down. The second photo is for perspective and shows me at the base of the steeper part of the falls.

Sids Falls

If you have experience in creek walking and are up for an adventure with a nice payoff, you might want to check our Sparkle Falls. If you have never creek walked, I wouldn't make this one your first. It's only 0.25 miles down stream from Sids Falls, but there is no trail. You will have to walk in the creek just about the entire way. When we did that in June 2020, water levels were up slightly and we were never in water deeper than our knees. Not too far down you may notice Sawhead Branch coming in from the right. Shoulder Bone Branch has now become Sawhead Branch at this point. Keep going down creek. When you get fairly close to the top of the falls, be on the right side of the creek. Look for an obvious trail and leave the creek at this point. Don't go to the top of the waterfall. You will die if you fall off. Even if you just get severely injured, think about what Search and Rescue has to do to drag you out of there. The trail veers away from the waterfall and heads steeply down the side through the shrub. You'll come out at the base right beside the water flow of this 25-30' high beauty, but you can also work your way around to the opposite side of the huge pool for a frontal view. Below are 3 photos of Sparkle Falls. Renee is in the last one for scale.

Sparkle Falls - Oconee County, SC

Sparkle Falls - Oconee County, SC

Sparkle Falls - Oconee County, SC
Sparkle Falls

Now, back to the trail to Sids Falls at the split to Maxie Duke Falls. At that fork in the trail I mentioned above, take the left trail. It is a lot steeper than the trail down to Sids Falls, a little bit longer, and more difficult to get to an open shot of the falls. Since my visit in 2020, someone on social media posted a shot with a new rope stretched down the slope. I don't know how far it goes, or if will even be there when you visit. The trail ends up just below the base of Maxie Duke Falls. You can see the waterfall, but there's no good shot from here. You'll have to figure out how to cross to the right side through and over the downed trees and scramble up to the view. Probably count on wet and muddy feet for this scramble. Again, know your skill limits. This would be another difficult rescue if you get hurt. If the water is flowing good, Maxie Duke Falls is another stunner. It's about 50' high and has a lot of character with the water flowing over the many small ledges. Below are 2 photos.

Maxie Duke Falls - Oconee County, SC

Maxie Duke Falls - Oconee County, SC
Maxie Duke Falls


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