Accessibility – Moderate
Height: Approx 12′
Distance – 6.9 miles (out and back)
Beauty – 5
Photo rating – 4
Solitude – 9
GPS Info: LAT 34.9539 LONG -82.1184
Last updated – 03-22-2018
Big Bend Falls is a waterfall on the Chatooga River that gets it’s name from a large bend in the river nearby. At only 12 feet high it’s not a high falls but the Chatooga River is powerful and Narrow at this point so it is impressive in other ways. The total hike is almost seven miles with a nasty scramble down to the river waiting. I did this on a late March day and even so I worked up a sweat bushwhacking down to the river. Be sue you’re up to a long hike and hard descent before setting out on this one.
To get to the trailhead from Cashiers, take NC107 South from the intersection with US 64 and follow it into SC. From US64 it’s 14.6 miles until you reach the parking area for The Cherry Hill Recreation Area. Park here.
There are two starting points for the hike both of which are across SC107. You can either walk down Big Bend Road with is directly across from the Cherry Hill Recreation area or walk down SC107 heading South and pick up the trail head as it come out of the woods. I hiked in on the logging road and came back on the trail and both are similar. In either case, after a third of a mile on Big Bend Road, it comes along side the trail. As this point you need to leave the road and follow the trail. The trail will hug the mountain side on a mostly level course over the next two miles. The hiking is easy enough and the trail was in good shape. At 2.3 miles from the trailhead the trail is going to split. Stay to the left. Less than half a mile from the split the trail is going to join the Foothill Trail. As you near 3.5 miles from the trailhead the trail is going to switchback hard to the right and then hard to the left. At this point, start looking for the easiest way down.
At the point where you leave the trail the Chatooga is about 300 feet below and these are 300 unforgiving feet. It is steep and thick with some vertical rock areas you will have to avoid. You want to keep the sound of the falls to your right so you come out below it. There is a high cliff next to the falls you don’t want to emerge onto. There is a beach area below the falls on river left and a small island you can wade out to in order to get pictures. If the water level is low enough, which it might be in the summer, you could conceivably wade across into Georgia.
If you do undertake this hike be careful on the scramble down and if you happen to find an old Kodak tripod on your travels, let me know. Mine fell out of my pack on the climb back up and vanished down the mountainside.