791 – Upper Laurel Fork Falls (SC)

Accessibility – Hard & Steep Scramble

Height: Approx 30-35′

Distance – 4.2 miles RT

Beauty – 8

Photo rating – 8

Solitude – 9

GPS Info: LAT 35.05597 LONG -82.84337

Last Visit – 03-13-2022

Last updated – 02-27-2022

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Upper Laurel Fork Falls is located at the 2300 foot elevation on Laurel Fork in Jocassee Gorges. The majority of the hike is along Canebrake Road, which when open makes this hike little more than a steep scramble, versus a long road walk. The falls is about 30 feet high with two drops. It is down in a thickly overgrown hollow so the light is perfect.

Trailhead GPS: 35.04414 -82.783822

Trailhead Drive: To get to the falls you’re going to take US178 from Rosman NC or SC11 in the South. The intersection of US178 and Horsepasture Rd is on the right approximately 2.5 miles south of the North Carolina state line. If coming from upstate South Carolina, you will be making a left onto Horsepasture Road some 8 miles north of the intersection at SC11. As soon as you make the turn onto the gravel Horsepasture Rd, it’s going to split. Stay to the right and head up the hill. Like many of the gravel roads in the area, it is narrow and the drop off on the side of the road is steep. Half a mile into the drive there is a parking area on the left for the foothills trail. Approximately 1.7 miles into the drive, there is a small roadside waterfall. This waterfall is on an unnamed creek but it is worth a look. There is a pullout on the right side of the road as it sweeps into a left-hand switchback up the mountain. Horsepasture Road is steep and bumpy. At 3.6 miles you will reach Canebrake Rd, which is the parking for Virginia Hawkins Falls.

The hike: hike Canebrake Road past the gate and stay with it for 1.3 miles. Where you will drop off the road for the steep descent to the falls. Picking a place is going to be what works best for you but if you’re paying attention, you will see and hear the falls across the valley. As you get closer, you can find your best option for getting down there. No matter where it is either steep or thick. Other than the schwack, this is little more than a road walk. Getting to the base isn’t pleasant but it sure is nice down there.