I finally found my way to Virginia Hawkins Falls in late April 2015. I feel kind of silly for it taking so long, especially seeing how many times I have driven right past it. It is a beautiful 25 foot waterfall that seems more difficult to reach than it really is. From the trailhead, this was a 1.4 mile hike for me or 2.8 mile round trip. Knowing where to turn and where to park are the only real challenges to overcome with this one.
If you are familiar with Twin Falls in Pickens South Carolina and Eastatoe Falls just on the other side in North Carolina, then you are one step ahead of most. On US 178, whether heading north or south, look for the big brown Foothills Trail Access sign at about 2 1/2 miles from the state line on the South Carolina side. Turn in here and head up a twisty, rough dirt road for roughly 3.7 miles, ignoring the first parking area just up from US 178. The road name here is Horsepasture Rd, although I did not see the road name at the intersection with the highway. At the 3.7 mile mark, there will be a fork in the road with a large sign at a trailhead. I stopped and got a closer look, and saw the map with Virginia Hawkins Falls. This is the Laurel Fork Heritage Preserve. This was the spot I was looking for, so I parked in a perfect spot for one car right there and my hike began.
The hike begins on a narrow trail heading downhill. This does not last long as it comes to an old logging road that is excellent shape. Take a right here. This was pretty much my only moment of uncertainty on this day. Going right seemed right, and it was. Take this road for just over a mile. The map calls this road the Laurel Fork Rd. It is downhill the whole way, but mostly at only a slight grade. The return hike was pleasant as well. There will be 3 or 4 creek crossings as this road follows a small creek the whole way.
It was a very pleasant walk through the woods. I had this entire experience to myself, encountering no other hikers on the trail or at the waterfall. After the first mile is up, the creek is running on the left side of the road. The right side begins to open up and a larger, much louder stream can be heard. This is the Laurel Fork. Soon there will be a sign at the area to make a right turn towards Virginia Hawkins Falls. A very well constructed bridge is in place to cross the Laurel Fork and a trail follows the Laurel Fork upstream. This is your trail. It is also the Foothills Trail. Follow it a very short ways and the beautiful waterfall you will soon see.
From the sign area, there was a short trail heading downstream. This led to a nice viewing spot isolating the falls . A tricky few steps further down will get you out on some rocks in the creek yielding an even better photo op. I was happy with this one. It was a beautiful, elegant waterfall with lots of water from recent rains. It was also a gray, overcast day, making it perfect for photos. If only I was this fortunate every time I have the chance to go exploring!
This waterfall lies north of Twin Falls and south of Eastatoe Falls on the US 178 corridor and the 3 of these make a wonderful half day trip.