Its Good Friday 2015…and I have found my way to another “new 2 me” waterfall, Station Cove Falls. Station Cove Falls is a beautiful 60 ft cascade that sits in an area rich in history. Getting here requires a drive into northwestern SC in the hills just up from Walhalla. This area is already somewhat familiar to me as I have been here before to visit Issaqueena Falls and one of my favorites…Yellow Branch Falls.
I wasn’t planning on coming to this waterfall on this day. I had the Brasstown Falls area in mind as I was working on seeing and photographing all 100 waterfalls on the Carolina Mountain Club’s Waterfall Challenge 100 (WC100 for short ) list. This is a fine list of 100 beautiful waterfalls that lie in several states. Some are easy to get to, some are not. At last count, I was 56% done…still a ways to go.
I had some unexpected issues arise today. It was Good Friday which means I was off, but so were a ton of other people. Being 2 days before Easter, the highways were very busy. I had several stop and go sessions on I-85 trying to get south into western South Carolina. After sitting almost stationary for close to an hour, I decided backtrack at the next available exit and take the scenic hwy 11 across. This route while scenic, took forever. At about 2 pm, I still had not reached my destination, but was finally getting close to Walhalla. It was then, that my day took a new course. I love how South Carolina puts these nice brown signs when you are near a waterfall. I came up on one, and stopped to check my iPhone and see what it was. Station Cove Falls…. A 60 foot waterfall that I have heard of, but had not yet made an effort to visit. Well I was only a few miles from it on Hwy 11, so today became Station Cove Falls Day. To make things even better, it is one of the waterfalls on the WC100 list.
I got directions today from what seems to be a very reliable source for South Carolina Waterfall Hiking…www.sctrails.net. It gave me the basics on where to go, how long to hike and what to expect. Anyway, from Hwy 11, about 6 miles or so from West Union and Walhalla, turn off onto Oconnee Station Rd. In just a few miles is the parking area for the Oconnee Station Historic Site that has a nice picnic area, several old historic houses , and a trail to a lake and waterfall….sounds great. I parked and checked out the signs and found the trailhead.
I found the trail to be on that is in very good shape, dedinitely in the easy to moderate category. One thing that threw me off was the distance. This waterfall was supposed to be a half mile hike. After hiking down to and around a small lake, the trail begins hiking up. At about the half mile point, you are not sitting in front of a beautiful waterfall, instead crossing the road that brought you to the Oconee Station, just a short ways down from where you parked. I was somewhat confused at this point.
After “re-reading ” the directions, the 1/2 mile to the falls, begins at the road. There is a parking area here for several cars. My decision to park at the historical and picnic area and follow the signs from there,
doubled the distance of the hike to this waterfall for me. It was still a very nice hike and a beautiful early spring day in South Carolina, so I didn’t mind. From the road, the trail continues, heads towards Station Creek, which for the first part of this “next” half mile hike is a swamp. Swamps and waterfalls don’t usually go together I have found, but in this case it does. Just follow the trail as it leads up the creek, above the swamp and the creek eventually becomes more of a creek and the terrain slow transforms into more of a gorge.
The passage through the fence is about the spot where the stream leaves the flat terrain and begins to climb a little. Around the next bend I walked into a beautiful forest that was covered almost as far as I could see in Mayapple ground cover. They were not yet blooming, but were growing very well. Just up from this, will be your one and only crossing of Station Creek, which was quite easy. Now heading up on the left side of the stream, the waterfall is just up stream, it kind of comes out of nowhere as the hike didn’t seem to be leading up to a waterfall this pretty.
Th waterfall was very nice. The 60 foot waterfall spreads the water out and makes the most of its limited water flow. There was a nice couple there sitting on a log that helped to scale the size of the waterfall for my photo. The area below the falls is abundant and fairly safe to move around freely. This was a nice hike and great place to bring your family for a family hike and picnic. I did not take any photos of the historical buildings at the beginning, but they were in great shape and are part of the historical Oconee Station, which was once a military compound and later a trading post.