Accessibility – Moderate
Height: Approx 35′
Distance – 2.60 (out and back)
Beauty – 8
Photo rating – 7
Solitude – 5
GPS Info: LAT 35.2953 LONG -82.8347
Last updated – 03-19-2017
Yellow Branch is a 60 foot waterfall in the Sumter National Forest in Oconee County SC. The waterfall is easily reached from a graded trail that begins in the Yellow Branch Picnic Area. The hike can be done as a partial loop but it’s not an easy hike. More on this below.
To get to Yellow Branch Falls from Walhalla, follow NC28 West for 6.8 miles and make a left into the Yellow Branch Picnic Area. If you miss the turn in less than a 0.1 of a mile you will come to Stumphouse Tunnel Road, which provides access to Issaqueena Falls and the Stumphouse Tunnel. You can combine these two attractions to make a great half day family adenture. Follow the entrance road to the Yellow Branch Picnic area. The trail begins past the kiosk in the eastern end of the parking lot.
This short connector trail will lead you to the Yellow Branch Trail in less than 0.25 of a mile. Along the way you will make three creek crossings. Two are on rocks and the third is on a large log. It is at this third crossing that the Yellow Branch Trail begins. Before crossing the creek, a faint path branches right and heads up the river left side of the creek. This will meander along the side of the creek, take you through a gnarly creek crossing where numerous hemlocks have come crashing down and finally to a stupidly steep descent to the base of the falls. When you get to the base you will see the trail you just came down in signed as, “please stay off this trail…” If you don’t see the faint trail before the creek crossing, good for you. You don’t want to take it anyway. If you do see it, pretend you don’t.
Cross the creek on the large tree and continue on the Yellow Branch Trail. The total hike to the falls is 1.3 miles one-way. The trail is in good shape and other than a few steep ledge areas, the trail isn’t too difficult. I hiked it in bare feet. You’ll have to cross the creek to get a decent shot but the water is low enough that this shouldn’t present a problem. There’s also a nice little falls to the left and a great swimming hole below this smaller falls. A narrow path leads down to the base. The hike is kid-friendly and there are plenty of places to take pictures. Now for the bad news. I was there on a Monday and there were people all over the place. There were two girls in bikinis taking selfies in front of a falls, an adventurous girl who was climbing on the falls (20-30 feet up) and a couple pf teenage boys jumping up and down on the rock at the top of the falls. Somehow, I managed to snap a few pictures when they were all off doing other things. I suspect this is a frequent problem here. This is the kind of waterfall people come to and don’t immediately leave.