017 – Toxaway Falls

Accessibility – Moderate

Height: Approx 290′ over numerous drops and slides

Distance – Roadside / 0.50 miles if staying at condos (out and back)

Beauty – 10

Photo rating – 8

Solitude – 7

GPS Info: LAT 35.1239 LONG -82.9311

Last Updated: 04/01/2017


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I have had two experiences with Toxaway Falls and they left me with vastly different opinions. Like the vast majority of visitors to Toxaway Falls, my initial visit came as I was passing over it on US64. There is enough room on the shoulder to pull over and have a look but there is NO way to capture what you’re seeing. The angle is awful and the detail is lost. I came away with a feeling of ‘meh’. My second experience came after renting one of the condos that infringe on the west side of the falls. The condos have an access path that allows you to get down to the bedrock below the first two drops. My second visit left me with a feeling of, ‘heck yeah!’

Geologically this one is amazing. The colored rock and sheer magnitude of the falls is unlike any other waterfall in the area. Back in the early 1900’s the dam that kept Lake Toxaway in check failed and the lake all but drained. The deluge stripped the land to the bedrock and this is what remains today. The new dam was rebuilt in 1960.

From Brevard, Toxaway Falls is 16 miles west on US64. From Cashiers the falls is 13 miles east on US64. Look for the large masonry bridge and the grassy bank of the dam above the road. You can park in the graveled area a short distance from the falls. Lake Toxaway is on the upper side of the road. Toxaway Falls drops and slides over some the most colorful rock you’re going to see. In all the falls plunges almost 250 feet from the road to the base. My initial impression was muted. After an up close and personal visit when staying at one of the condos bordering the waterfall, it is one of my favorites. I want to rent the condo again just to have more time to explore the falls and the river downstream legally.

On my visit in September of 2015, I embarked on the descent from the condos to the base of the large drop. The swithcback trail eventually emptied out onto a section of rock befitting a moonscape. Towering above was the big drop. Hidden from view was the first drop. I visited the falls each of the days, descending further and further until reaching the base of the falls where it collects in a pool before vanishing around a bend and flowing into Gorges Stare Park. The rock can be slippery so you need to pick you way down and down and down. After each drop I was convinced I had reached as far as I could before finding my way to the next level down. By the time I reached the bottom the upper drops were barely visible. The sheer size of this waterfall is impressive.

The hike down to the base is kid friendly as long as you take your time, pick your path and stay on the dry sections of rock. Of course, you will need to be staying at the condos along the falls if you want this up close and personal access. As far as photography, there is no way to get it all in one shot. Shoot it in segments, lots of segments and piece them together. If you do have the opportunity to stay at the falls, you will get an opportunity to experience a waterfall in a completely different way. There are going to be a lot of pictures on this one. The first two are from the road, taken in February of 2014. The rest are from below taken in September of 2015.

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The Big Drop on Toxaway Falls from the bridge – February 2014
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The First Drop on Toxaway Falls from the bridge – February 2014
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1st drop on Toxaway Falls – from balcony – September 2015
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Big drop (2nd drop) and collection pool from bedrock below falls – September 2015
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The potholes near the base of the big drop – Toxaway Falls – September 2015
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Third Drop on Toxaway Falls – September 2015
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Third and fourth drops on Toxaway Falls – September 2015
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Fourth Drop on Toxaway Falls – September 2015
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The collection pool below the fifth drop on Toxaway Falls – September 2015
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The collection pool below the sixth drop on Toxaway falls – September 2015
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At the bottom of Toxaway falls shooting toward US 64 – September 2015

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