302 – Upper Scotsman Falls

Accessibility – Difficult+

Height – 22′ over several drops

Distance – 0.2 Steep scramble and creek crossing

Beauty – 5

Photo rating – 6

Solitude – 7

GPS Info: LAT 35.0183 LONG -83.1124

Last Updated – 09-01-2018


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Upper Scotsman Falls is a 25 foot high waterfall on Scotsman Creek, not far upstream from the more well-known Scotsman Falls. The Upper falls is a series of drops with the middle section being the best photo subject. The problem here is access. The easiest thing to do is park at the Scotsman Falls pullout and walk the road heading toward Cashiers (upstream).

To get to the pullout from the Highlands, take Horse Cove Road from the middle of town where US64 turns left to head to Cashiers. If you continue straight onto this extension of Main Street it will lead to Horse Cove Road which switches back down the mountain and into Horse Cove. At 3.7 miles from the traffic light you will pass Walkingstick Road on the right. At 4.55 miles Horse Cove Road reaches a fork. The paved Whiteside Cove Road goes straight and the unpaved Bull Pen Road make a right. Turn onto Bull Pen Road. At 2 miles the road goes from gravel to paved and at 3 miles you reach the bridge over the Chatooga River and Potholes Falls. Cross the river and 1.1 miles from the crossing look for a wide area on the outside of the hard left hand turn. If you get to the hard right switchback by a campsite, you went to far.

If you’re coming from Cashiers, follow Bull Pen Road from NC107 for just over 4 miles. The road will make a hard left switchback at a campsite and cross over Scotsman Creek, leaving the creek on your left. At the right hand bend, there is a large pull out.

This section of Bull pen Road is straight and you can hear the upper falls down below as you move away from the parking area. I found several steep paths leading down. The one I took went hard left to bypass a tree and then back to the right. It was easy enough to follow as it heads down to the creek and it isn’t terribly long. When it gets to the creek you will be at the top of the falls. Head upstream past a side drainage that was dry on my visit, Once I was across the drainage I walked onto the rock and crossed the creek. The water wasn’t too high so there was no concern. If the water were up, I wouldn’t risk it since if you got swept off your feet you’re going down the falls.

It took some doing but on the far side of the creek, I located a badly overgrown path leading up the bank. There is a lot of clutter at the start of the path but once past this crap, it doesn’t get easier to follow. It will climb for a time and then head downstream, taking you past the brink of the falls to the rocks on river left. Getting back across wasn’t an issue and river right was definitely the better photo op. The trail to the base of the falls is badly overgrown and littered with briers and downfall so use caution. It is also steep near the base of the falls. There is one more section of the falls below but it wasn’t nearly as nice as the section I visited. I saw a way down but I didn’t see a reason.

DSC_16857
Upper Scotsman Creek in the fading light – September 2018

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