233 – Cavern Falls

Accessibility – Medium

Height – Approx 30′

Distance – 5.0 miles (out and back)

Beauty – 8

Photo rating – 8

Solitude – 10

GPS Info: LAT 35.2841 LONG -82.2701

Last Updated: 09-07-2017

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Regardless of your direction of travel on I-26, take exit 59, Saluda. At the bottom of the ramp you’re going to want to head East on Holbert Cove Road. In the other direction this is Ozone Road, which would take you to US176 and Pearson’s Falls. Less than a tenth of a mile make a left onto Green River Cove Road. Follow Green River Cove Road for 3.65 miles to where a dirt road turns to the right just before Green River Cove Road crosses the Green River. The road is bumpy with several large dips on the way to the parking area. As you enter you’ll see several small out buildings on the left. Pass them and park by the kiosk in the open parking area.

A closed gate it at the end of the parking area beyond the kiosk and this is going to be the trail initially. Once past the gate the road follows a gradually undulating grade. After one mile on the road it will make a sharp left turn passing between a barn on the left and a makeshift garage with several tractors under it. Continue following the road as it  heads down a slight incline to a meeting with Cove Creek. At a couple of locations roads fork off. Keep right until you get to the creek. This will likely be a wade unless the water is very low. Once across the creek the road will bend to the right and enter the first of several cornfields.

There may or not be a trail through the cornfields but we kept heading toward the far side while angling to the left. In time this will lead you to a hemmed in field, akin to a box canyon. A faint trail leads into the woods pretty much straight ahead of the direction you had been heading. Finding the trail is difficult but once you’re on it, following it as it turns upstream toward Milton Bradley Falls isn’t hard at all. When you enter the woods you’re about 1.75 miles from the parking area and less than a half mile from Milton Bradley Falls. The trail will join the creek for the final stretch and leave you on the river right side of the 40 foot high waterfall. There is a lot of clutter on the right side of the pool that you’ll have to navigate in order to get to a place to take a good picture and to continue upstream.

From the base of Milton Bradley Falls, cross to river left and head up the insanely steep path. On my visit it was a muddy mess and slippery as hell until we got to the midpoint of the falls. There a lot of roots on the second half of the ascent that will help you get to the sloped section at the top where you can walk. From this point forward, there is no trail except for the creek bed. There are some fallen trees to content with and even though it is only a quarter of a mile to Bradley Cooper Falls, it will feel much longer. The creek isn’t hard to walk and there are some areas where the shoreline is open and passable. At other times you’ll be in the water.

A tributary enters Little Cove Creek on river right just below Bradley Cooper Falls and on the land between the two creeks there is a trail that leads to the top of Bradley Cooper Falls and to Marilou Bradley Falls which is upstream on the tributary. Several side paths lead down from the trail to various vantages of the falls on Little Cove Creek. The small cascade below Bradley Cooper Falls makes a nice foreground object, while the base of the main drop was cluttered on my visit.

When you’re done here return to the trail to the top of top of the falls and take a trail off the lett side down to the grotto below Marilou Bradley Falls. It’s hard to get a good picture without getting your feet wet but at this point you should have on your water-shoes anyway. Three down and one to go.

Return to the trail that led you down to the base of Marilou Bradley Falls and take it to the trail that runs parallel to the cliff at the top of the trail. This will lead you to the midpoint of Marilou Bradley Falls and the toughest hurdle yet. You have to climb up the top section of the falls around a small rocky knob, It looks much worse than it really is. Once you get to the top it’s back into the creek for the final quarter mile creek walk. As long as you stay with the main creek it will lead you right to the falls, however you will have to negotiate a steep cascade below Cavern Falls, which will force you to approach from river left. As you near the falls you will be out of the creek on a rocky section that will lead you into the narrow area below Cavern Falls.

Cavern Falls is by far the most amazing of the four waterfalls on the hike with one part running down a large rockface and another part dropping into a cave and coming out on river right.

Cavern Falls – September 2017
The hidden drop emerging on river left – September 2017