Virginia Hawkins Falls - aka Double Falls
10-21-20 - On my previous visit to Virginia Hawkins Falls in 2017, several trees had fallen across the waterfall making it less attractive as a photo subject. More recently, I had seen photos on social media where the trees were no longer there. I finally made a return trip in October 2020 for updated photos and video. The picture above is from my first visit to the waterfall in 2006 and the next is from my most recent visit in 2020. Virginia Hawkins Falls is located in the Laurel Fork Heritage Preserve right off the Foothills Trail in the Jocassee Gorges area of Pickens County off of US178. It's a beautiful 60' cascading waterfall and the hike is an easy to moderate 3 mile round trip. The waterfall was known as Double Falls until late 2004 when the Foothills Trail Conference renamed it for Virginia Hawkins, long time executive secretary of the FTC.
Virginia Hawkins Falls
Directions - If you are coming from the NC side, take US178 south from US64 in Rosman to the South Carolina state line. From there, drive a little under 2.5 miles and just before the bridge, turn to the right on to the gravel Horsepasture Rd (the upper road to the right when you make the turn). If you are coming from south, the left hand turn on to Horsepasture Rd is about 8 miles north of SC11 off of US178 just after you cross the bridge. The parking area is about 3.6 miles up Horsepasture Rd at Laurel Gap.
Horsepasture Rd was a lot smoother ride on this last visit, but don't always count on that. It's had some fairly rough sections in the past. You should probably be OK in a passenger vehicle with normal clearance. It's a forest service road, narrow in places, and you should drive slowly in case you meet a vehicle coming from the opposite direction. After a short distance on Horsepasture Rd, you will pass a parking area on the left for access to the Foothills Trail. If you want to make the hike to the waterfall a 10 mile round trip hike, park here and follow the Foothills Trail west for 4.7 miles. I haven't done it, so I can't comment on the difficulty, but I'm sure you'll see some nice scenery along the way. If you opt for the shorter hike, continue driving on Horsepasture Rd for about 3.5 miles to Laurel Gap (passing Eastatoe Creek Heritage Preserve on the left which has a very nice hike to The Narrows). There is very little parking at Laurel Gap at the trail head for the falls. A very short distance before the trail head, just before a steep narrow uphill section of the road, look for a wide area on the left. You can park here if the space at the trail head is taken. Once up the hill, you'll see a green gated road to the right, then an open green gate for Horsepasture Rd to continue straight ahead. Look on the left here for 1-2 spaces depending on how large your vehicle is. The trail head is on the right behind the sign with the map on it. You may be able to find enough room to pull off out of the way a little farther up Horsepasture Road also. Most green gates are open to vehicle traffic at certain times of the year - mainly during hunting season. The green gate on Horsepasture Rd now stays open year round. Jumping Off Rock is another 6 miles up Horsepasture Rd and offers an excellent view of part of Lake Jocassee, but the road can get a little rougher farther up.
Once you get parked, begin the hike on the other side of the sign. The trail descends a short distance to a closed logging road. Turn right and follow this road down and around for a little over a mile to Laurel Fork Creek. There are several small stream crossings along the way. They aren't deep, but if water levels are high you might have to get a foot wet. Just before you reach Laurel Fork Creek look for a sign on the right pointing to the trail and the primitive camping sites. Head into the camp sites and take the bridge across Laurel Fork Creek. Continue up the Foothills Trail for a very short distance to the waterfall. A series of steps leads down to a viewing area, but you will also see a trail that continues down to the creek for a different view. Crossing the creek here might require getting your feet wet unless water levels are really low. The best time to see the waterfall is after a period of heavy rain. Water flow can be rather puny during drier times. Below is a bit of video I took on my last visit in October 2020.
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