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Moonshine Falls – First Visit 08/16/15 – Get Your Shine On


This days hiking destination was to be Moonshine Falls, a 40 foot drop from an overhanging cliff with a lot of room behind the falls. I have wanted to visit here for some time now. I knew the waterfall wasn’t particularly big or on a large flow stream. It is one of the Carolina Mountain Club’s WC100’s waterfalls that I have yet to visit. It also has a very unique feature. Behind the waterfall on the left side are the rusty remains of some 55 gallon drums and some tubing that was once part of a moonshine operation many years back. Hence the name…Moonshine Falls. It is not often a pile of trash at a waterfall is something one would want to see, but this one gives this waterfall some added character, and leaves one to wonder what it must have been like. I searched for some history on the web, but couldn’t come up with much.

Getting here is not exactly a breeze. It is located deep in the Mountain Bridge Wilderness. It can be accessed from several directions. There doesn’t seem to be a “short” way here. The recommended way is to access it from the Asbury Methodist Camp. This is a very nice camp that has gated access. Please call ahead to obtain permission and a gate code prior to going. (864-836-3711)

This was also my second hike now with a very fine group of hikers I have met and become familiar with on Facebook. Normally a solo hiker, it is quite a nice change to spend time with others who love seeing waterfalls as much as I do. Once the water can be heard, we all seem to like a bunch of kids in a candy store.

The Asbury Methodist Camp is right off US 276 about 4-5 miles south or down the mountain from the Caeser’s Head Visitor Center. This is where we all met. We then rode down the mountain and turned right into the Asbury Camp. We followed the main road down and through camp where the road comes to an end at a parking area. Follow the trail road from here up to a lake and then into the woods on the Red Blazed Asbury Trail. We followed this trail for what seemed like a mile and a half. There are a number of side trails to other destinations. One must stay focused. We did bear off on one trail that led to a beautiful 6 foot cascade with a large swimming hole below it. It was called Cascade Falls on Matthews Creek

The “New Legends Of The Falls”
From L2R…Stephanie Leigh, Mary Gavlik, Jo Anne Hartman Keasler, Beth Bradshaw, and Mark Lackey!

Mary Gavlik show us the way to Cascade Falls

Cascade Falls

The Asbury Trail eventually come to a very neat cable bridge crossing Matthews Creek. To get to Moonshine Falls, Matthews Creek must be crossed here, either the bridge or finding a way to rock hop or wade. I liked this bridge. I have never crossed one quite like it.

After crossing the creek, follow the trail a short ways until it meets a pink blazed trail. Make a right turn again here. The trail ascends some here as it leaves the Matthews Creek area, but nothing too bad. The trail soon comes to another intersection. This one will be marked with a stack of rocks. Turn right again. The pink blazed trail heads off to the left here and I believe it was here that I saw the sign that Raven Cliff Falls was 1.7 miles if you were to keep on the pink blazed trail.

Mountain Mint – Rub the leaf a little, smells wonderful
“Rock Pile” signaling the right turn

Once off the pink blazed trail, you should see this. Not to worry you are NOT lost!!
Cool tree just before the left turn that descends down to Moonshine Falls!

The final descent to Moonshine Falls is the steepest part of the hike. You will be making your way down to the bottom of a large rock cliff with a fairly deep cave behind it. There is certainly enough room to comfortably store 10-20 55 gallons drums and run a good Moonshine business here….and what do you know, someone already had this idea. I would have loved to have seen this place when it was up and running. One of the first things you will see once you get to the cave is the old rusty drum remains on the left. Keep walking down a little further and there it is, Moonshine Falls. On this day, it wasn’t much! Just a small trickle over a very large overhanging rock. I wasn’t expecting much, it has been quite dry the last month or so.

Here is Beth….”Getting Her Shine On”

Moonshine Falls from the opposite side!

After some fun time under the rock, we all migrated down a little to the very bottom of the falls. What do you know? There were more moonshine barrels down there as well. This place must have once provided happy feelings to many people across this area. The first thing that had to be done before some good photos could be taken was to get all the dead branches off of it. This is where “Maintenance Mark” took over.

After everyone got the photos they wanted, it was time to get “righteous”…lol. When heading to any waterfall with Mark, the “Hillbilly Baptism” is always a possibility. This is nothing more than a cool ritual of getting out into the the full stream of water and becoming ONE with the waterfall. I had yet to do this. It was a hot South Carolina day though, and this waterfall was so small and water starved. How could I pass it up? Mary got things started, standing under a waterfall that really just resembled a cold shower, a very cold shower.

It was amazing, how cold this small stream of water was.

Then it was time to all of us to get out of the way and let Mark show us how it is supposed to be done. He must have spent at least a full minute under that icy water. It didn’t seem to bother him at all. He must truly have ice water running through his veins.

The final…resting pose!

After this, the crew was ready to start heading back. Including the side trip to Cascade Falls, this was close to a 3 mile hike one way, maybe a tad shorter. So plan on a good 5 1/2 to 6 mile round trip hike to Moonshine Falls that I would rate moderate at best. The climbs are fairly small but the distance plays a factor. Mark and I still had a little energy left over and knew that Confusion Falls was close by. We took a trail upstream, made our way to the creek and somehow ended back up at Moonshine Falls. Confusion over Confusion Falls….go figure. I later learned that if we only had taken a short trip downstream…instead of up..we would have found the Confusion we were seeking. We caught up with the ladies back at the cable bridge and made a nice hike back to the vehicles. I want to thank Jo Anne Hartman Keasler for meeting us at Asbury Methodist Camp and leading us to Moonshine Falls. I hadn’t a clue of how to get there when I arrived, and there were many side trails to get lost on here. I also want to thank Beth Bradshaw for driving us all around from this waterfall to dinner, to another waterfall and back. Her car is kept immaculate, and by the end of this day, she was carrying around a sweaty, muddy, wet group of 5 folks in a car comfortably made for 4. We owe her a detailing I believe…lol

Speaking of dinner, Stephanie, who is from around and most familiar with this area, knew of a great “down home” place for some grub. She took us to Aunt Sue’s Country Corner. We made it there by like 3:58 and the “All-You-Can-Eat” buffet line was closing at 4! Just in time. Let’s just say, the folks that work here probably had the least amount of food to clean up that they have seen in awhile. I learned that this group can eat!! I mean everyone. I probably had the least, but was still a full plate piled high. Mark showed us what hiking 6 miles does to his appetite…lol

He was hungry!

Summarizing this up, I also want to thank Mark Lackey, Stephanie Leigh, and Mary Gavlik, as well as Beth Bradshaw and Jo Anne Hartman Keasler for welcoming me to hike along with their group and making me feel very welcome. Each and every one were people of extremely high character and we all love our waterfalls!!
Jo Anne makes easy work of this bridge!
Here’s to many good hikes and good times ahead!

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