696 – Dargans Cascade (Silver Steps Falls)

Accessibility – Moderate

Height – 18′

Distance – 3.0 miles (out and back)

Beauty – 4

Photo rating – 4

Solitude – 5

GPS Info: LAT 35.12175 LONG -82.62715

Last Updated – 01-14-2023

Last Visited – 08-13-2021

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Never content to leave well enough alone, Dargans Cascade had been renamed Silver Steps Falls. I don’t know why it would be changed from a cool name to a lame one, but such is life. It was called Dargans Cascade when I went to it, and that’s what it will always be to me. It’s not a huge waterfall, but it is scenic. The lower part is buried under downfall. Now that I think about it, that lower section that’s heaped with dead hemlocks can be Silver Steps Falls, and this nice part will be Dargans Cascade. Problem solved.

There are different ways to get to this one. There is a new parking area on US276, but I have not hiked it that way. I prefer to park roadside at the gate. The parking area is located at 35.12644, -82.64023. Looking at the topo map, coming from the official trailhead looks shorter but way steeper. If you’re gone in that way, drop me a line or leave me a comment and let me know what the hike was like.

The hike starts by passing the gate. This is the Jones Gap Trail, which is the only trail you need to concern yourself about for this hike. The grade is pretty tame and the trail is easy to follow. At 1.4 miles it will make a hard right switchback. Shortly after this it will make a hard left switchback. If you leave the trail on the obvious scramble path at the middle of the switchback, it will take you to an open area at the base of the falls. The hike is certainly family friendly enough, but there are several creek crossings. It’s cool that this is so far up the Middle Saluda River that you can rock hop across in normal flows. My dog Axel and I have done this one a few times. He likes the pool in front of the beach area.