430 – Mashbox Falls

Accessibility – Moderate+

Height – 55′

Distance – 1.2 miles (out and back)

Beauty – 8

Photo rating – 9

Solitude – 7

GPS Info: LAT 35.10301 LONG -82.60895

Last Updated – 02-09-2019


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Mashbox Falls is a 55-60 foot high waterfall around 0.25 of a mile upstream from Evans Falls. The falls is best viewed from the hillside on river left, which is in the shadow of the cliff the falls drops over. Reaching the falls is no more challenging than getting to Evans Falls as I find the most difficult part negotiating the ridge from the logging road at the top to the overgrown logging grade that parallels Oil Camp Creek. The trek from Evans to Mashbox follows a continuation of the road before finishing up with a bushwhack through the mostly open woods.

To get to the trailhead from NC and points North pick your best approach to reach the Caesars Head Visitor Center on US276. If you continue 2.2 miles South on US276 there is a large pullout on the right just before the road enters a tight left hand turn. If you’re coming up from SC. the pullout is on the left 5.2 miles from the split with US276 and SC11. There is a logging road on the right on the inside of the sharp turn below the parking area, which is the start of the trail. On my second visit I drove down the logging road (5.1 miles from the split with SC11) and parked in the open area near the kiosk. It wasn’t an issue in my Xterra but I don’t know that I would drive a normal car down here.

From the parking area, hike down US276 and cross to the highway to the inside of the sharp turn where the logging road heads down. It will descend to an open area at a gate where an old kiosk stands. This is where I parked for my visit to Mashbox Falls, cutting about 0.2 of a mile off the total hike. Pass the gate and continue on the logging road. If you want an idea of the water flow at Misty Falls, the creek is below the grade on the left. If you parked on the side of US276 about 0.25 of a mile from the pullout the logging road will begin a sharp right turn around a narrow ridge spine. If you parked at the kiosk, this is less than 0.1 of a mile before the road begins the lang right hand turn. This is where you want to leave the road. The GSP coordinates to leave the road are 35.09916, -82.61030. It is the only place that is overgrown with laurel that you will have to push through until the woods open up. If you stay toward the right there is less downfall.

The ridge spine isn’t very wide but you want to use it to reach the old logging road at creek level. If you are newer to this kind of hiking, this is one of the best examples of a ridge spine you’re going to see. The path you follow is going to be steep but manageable but ten feet to the left or right from the center-line of the spine and the sides plunge down dramatically. Almost from the moment you push through the laurel at the start of the bushwhack you will hear Misty Falls on the left. If you’re including this on your trip, you can take some pictures from the hillside near the midpoint of the falls. If you want to get to the base, see the Misty Falls Page.

If you’re going to Mashbox Falls, stay on the spine. The slopes on either side are exceptionally steep, while the spine is more moderately graded, although when you’re climbing back up you will be breathing heavy. As you move further downstream from Misty Falls there is more downfall to negotiate but once past it the spine will drop down and leave you on an obvious logging road. I could see Evans Falls when I was coming down the grade with the leaves off but I doubt you can see it in summer. When you get to the old road, make a left and follow Oil Camp Creek upstream. In a short distance you will cross the creek Misty Falls is on. Once across the woods open up as the road leads to the side of Evans Falls.

Facing Evans Falls, look up the hillside to your left. A short distance up you will see a large rock outcrop. Head up the steep hillside toward the outcrop. When you get to the base of the outcrop you will be on an overgrown logging road. Follow it upstream. There are numerous cascades on this part of the creek, anyone of which would make a great photo subject. The road will come to a small drainage and pretty much fizzle out before the other side. No matter, the woods are pretty open. This first part is pretty level and as you follow the creek you will pass an old metal box and the remains of some 55 gallon drums. These are the only remaining pieces of a mashbox, better known as a moonshine still.

Continuing upstream, the bank on river right is going to get steep and the contour is going to force a crossing of the creek. Cross to river left where the ground is more level and follow this towards the falls. I could see the fall from the mashbox so it’s easy to see where you want to go. As you get to the falls you’re going to have to decide where you want to take it all in. I scaled the bank on river left to the mid-point of the falls, which gave me a great view. The hillside is steep so you’re going to have to use caution to get up there. You’ll need to use more caution getting down. The view from river right is mostly blocked because of the way the water comes down the cliff.

This is probably not the most kid-friendly hike in the world and the ridge spine is going to be a bit much for those not used to steep grades. With the hike to see three waterfalls coming in at just over 1.25 miles you might be tempted to give it a go but this is not an easy hike and there are numerous places where it can go very wrong. If you’re good at off-trail hiking, this will be a breeze. I knew none of these three waterfalls were popular and I didn’t expect to see anyone on my Saturday hike but on way back I heard leaves rustling. Initially I thought it was a deer (or a bear) but it turned out to be a fellow adventurer, Rich, on his way back from Misty Falls. He had come down the Pinnacle Pass Trail from the upper logging road (a hike of about a mile) but he made the return by coming up the steeper route with me, trimming about 0.8 of a mile off the hike.

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Part of the Mashbox – February 2019

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