What a magnificent way to begin 2016! A new waterfall for me and beautiful one at that. I missed out on the usual New Years Day Hike to begin the year. It wasn’t long though. My first hike and first waterfall occurred on January 3rd . The destination for this hike was to be Sids Falls, a gorgeous 55 foot cascade in extreme NW South Carolina, minutes from the Georgia state line. After experiencing a very warm, record breaking December, the New Year rushed in with stiff northwesterly winds that brought us all back to reality. I prefer hiking in South Carolina in the winter, as it usually brings the added benefit of being warmer than the waterfall hikes in NC. Even as the temps were on there way trending down, we were still able to make it here on a day when the forecast high was to be near 60. This helped take the edge off the 30s and 40s experienced New Year’s Day and weekend in NC.
This was another group hike with some friends that I had met up with and began hiking with in 2015. We met at the usual parking spot in western NC along US 64, then 5 of us all piled into 1 vehicle and headed south into the upstate South Carolina. Our hiking group on this day included myself, Mary, Beth, Stephanie, and Michele who I met for the first time. We had a lot of fun chatting on the way down, with everyone sharing some holiday stories, etc.
I didn’t pay much attention to the directions heading down. We ended up on Battle Creek Rd stopping at the photo above which is FR 2616. This was just a short ways off of US76 in the small town of Long a Creek, SC. The 3 mile round trip hike begins here, and off we went.
The first 1 1/4 mile or so was an easy stroll up and down rolling hills on a very wide forest road, dominated by pine trees. Along the way were 4 extended wildlife fields, which were just extended, open and cleared fields along the forest road. Speaking of wildlife, at the last field, we saw some signs of life.
Not quite sure what the source of this was. With what looked like snout marks, the general consensus was that there had been some recent wild hog activity here, but no one could definitely say for sure. One thing was certain,…these spots were definitely not Hershey Kisses and there were a a number of them. By this time, we were at the end of the pleasant forest road hike and a more narrow trail would lead into the pine forest and to the waterfall from here.
The trail started easy but it wasn’t long until the trail narrowed even more and began to descend sharply. This was easily the most difficult section of the hike, but it is short. A sneak peak of the falls was available through the trees and Rhodos as we were passing it. We would actually pass it, arrive at the stream downstream from the waterfall, and then work back to it. This steep section of the trail was what I later read about as being “Bernies Trail”.
The trail eventually got steep enough that holding on to trees, rocks and branches was necessary. There were plenty of them, so no ropes were needed. As the sound of crashing water got louder, the last part of the hike is just a short scramble down some rocks. Then, the canopy opens wide and a beautiful waterfall, reminiscent to me somewhat of Pearsons Falls is there before you.
The water was up from previous photos I have seen, and she was flowing beautifully. There wasn’t an excessive amount of room to stand down here, much less for 5 people. Needless to see we were a bit tight down in there. Here are some shots of the group enjoying this beautiful waterfall.
We spent a good half hour enjoying this scene, catching a breather, and taking every photo we could. As we packed up our cameras and equipment, the fun part of the hike was just ahead….getting out of this gorge. It wasn’t that bad as there was plenty to hold on to, just some huffing and puffing towards the end. As we left the forest trail and re-entered the forest road at the 4th wildlife clearing , there were some surprises for us on the way back.
A very young, playful, hyper black Labrador Retriever joined us on the trail out of nowhere. She was extremely friendly and went by the name “Blue”, as her collar indicated. This was undoubtably due to the one bright blue eye on her right side. We were all wondering what in the heck was going on here and how such a nice, cared for puppy made her way out here into the forest when there were no other signs of people nearby. We called the phone # on the tag, and only got voice mail. Soon though, shouts of Blueeeeee….could be heard. The owner, a local came into the trail from the woods and collected her puppy that we were able to contain for her. They were apparently playing nearby and Blue must have heard us and just came rushing to greet us….lol. She added some interesting info to our hike, saying the waterfall we visited was in fact not Sids Falls, but Shoulder Bone Falls, and that Sids Falls was further downstream, and was smaller with a sign. She also said there was another waterfall upstream that was on private property. We were kind of hoping since we just saved her puppy, that she would allow us to see this other waterfall…didn’t happen. It was just our good deed for the day. I would have loved to just take her home with us. We also decided to just go with Sids Falls, since that is what Waterfall Rich has it listed on his NC Waterfalls website.
As we approached the trailhead, we could see something was on top of the car. We all asked each other, and no one remembers leaving anything on the car, so we were quite perplexed. I was thinking some locals came by drank a 6 pack and left the trash on the car to be funny, but I was wrong. This was a special treat from a friend of Stephanie and Beth. They couldn’t make the hike with us, but lived closeby in the area and was very nice to leave us a pack of red velvet cookies. They were the bomb and also long gone, before we even reached US Hwy 76. A special thanks goes out to Renee, we loved the trail magic! I hope to return the favor some day!
Here is a short video of Sids Falls: