Waterfalls on this hike:
342 – Waterfall downstream from Moonshine Falls
Named Trails used:
Asbury Trail – Red Blaze
Natureland Trust Trail – Pink Blaze
The hike gallery
If you’re looking for a moderate hike with huge returns (lots of waterfalls), this is the hike for you. It has just enough adventure to keep you interested while the grade isn’t bad and the trails are signed. Coming in at over 6 miles total (out and back), expect the hike to take between 4-5 hours. It could be done much faster but you’re going to want to explore each of the four falls on the hike and take pictures. The only two places that might make this a challenge for little ones are the cable crossing of Matthews Creek and the narrow trail between Moonshine Falls and Confusion Falls. Along the more precarious portions steel cable has been strung as a handhold and to keep you from climbing down in the wrong place and damaging the environment or yourself.
While the waterfalls are in the Mountain Bridge Wilderness Area, the trailhead is on Asbury Hills property. If you plan to hike from this trailhead you need to call ahead to inform them of your intention. (864) 836-3711. The office is open during normal business hours Monday thru Friday. If you plan to hike on the weekend, you need to call during the week. The parking area is closed off when summer camp in session. I called on Monday, asked if I could hike on Wednesday and was told yes. They only asked what kind of car I drove and how many people were hiking.
To get to Asbury Hills camp from Greenville SC, take SC11/US276 North past Wildcat Wayside until SC11 and US276 split. Make the right onto US276, following the signs for Caesars Head. Take US276 1.6 miles to Lakemont Drive and make a left. Coming from NC, follow US276 into South Carolina to the Caesar’s Head visitor center and start your odometer. It is 5.7 miles to Lakemont Road. There is a large sign for the Asbury Hills Camp and Retreat at the entrance. After you turn on Lakemont, bear to the right at the first fork onto Asbury Road. There are two gates, both of which were open on our visit. The parking lot is 0.7 miles down this road where Asbury Road goes right and Lake Road goes left. Turn onto Lake Road, which runs into the parking area almost immediately.
Begin the hike by heading past the sign indicating the Asbury Trail with an arrow. The extension of the road heads up hill and makes a sharp right at the base of the earthen slope of the dam forming the lake. The trail will climb to the top of the slope and head for the woods. You can see the lake as you enter the woods following the combined red, yellow and blue blazed trail. The Asbury Trail is red blazed. The initial stretch is steep and rocky but after the Adventure Course Trail, the blue-blazed Lake Loop Trail and Orange-blazed campground loop trails branch off, the grade moderates. The trail is wide-enough to walk two-abreast and the grade is modest as the Asbury Trail climbs to meet the side spur to Cascade Falls. The spur is 1.3 miles form the parking area and it descends for less than 0.1 of a mile to an open area just below a 6 foot river wide drop into a deep pool. There is a sign for Cascade Falls marking the spur.
Once you make it back to the Asbury Trail, make a right and continue heading upstream. You will pass the Boy Scout Camp and the Girl Scout Camp before coming to a sign for the cable bridge. This is at 0.3 of a mile from the Cascades Falls sign. The two cables used to cross the creek are about five feet apart. With a hold on the top one, you shimmy your feet across the bottom one. It wasn’t bad at all and the view from the middle of the span is pretty nice.
On the far side, head downstream and follow the obvious trail as it heads away from the creek. This short spur will lead you to a trail marker for the Naturaland Trust Trail. Head to the right, following the pink-blazed trail. This section of trail was a little rough but it is only half a mile before the Naturaland Trust Trail turns left. Make a right and almost immediately you will pass an old wooden kiosk. From the kiosk the trail will rise to a T junction where someone built a huge rock cairn. Make a right and head down the grade until you come to a series of logs laid across the trail. Make a left and take this trail down to Moonshine Falls. There is some new cabling strung along the right side of the trail to keep you on course but it isn’t really necessary but it did make for a nice handhold. The trail drops down from the river right side of the falls and takes you behind the upper drop. A sign for Confusion Falls points downstream from this point.
There is a great view of the falls from the cave behind the falls. You can make your way all the way to the other side of the main drop. There is a collection of 55 gallon drums rusting quietly under the overhanging rock, the remains of the moonshine operation that inspired the name of the falls. Once you explore the upper section of the falls, head down the trail toward Confusion Falls until the path splits. If you head to the left you can get down to the base of the falls just opposite the collection pool. It is not a hard descent and the view is worth it.
Back on the trail to Confusion Falls, continue downstream. The trail will lead to an easy rock-hop across the creek before following the contour of the land around an eroded area. This section of the trail looked recent and as the trail came back to the creek it did so just downstream of a totally unexpected waterfall. I have yet to find out if this falls has a name but it is 25 feet high, falling over three drops. For lack of a batter name I’m calling it Waterfall downstream of Moonshine Falls. At the base of the falls the creek makes a hard right and sweeps around the flat area. The trail follows the creek downstream to another crossing, this time next to a small scenic cascade where the water flows over the rocks and forms an X.
Once past this cascade the trail follows the side of the hill on a newly built section of trail toward the top of Confusion Falls. Steel cable has been strung along the downhill side of the trail to keep people from going down the hill at the top of the falls. If you follow the cable downstream it will lead you to an easy switchback below the base of the falls. From here you can enjoy this amazing waterfall where two creeks fall over the same cliff.