Located close to Ashmore Preserve and Caesar’s Head State Park, the Wattacoo Creek loop hike is a roughly 2 mile loop that starts on Persimmon Ridge Road. You will get 10 distinct drops along a 0.75 stretch of Wattacoo Creek, each different than the others. This is an off-trail hike once you get to the creek and there are places where the terrain is steep and fall is possible if you’re not careful. If you are not used to hiking off-trail, this is not the hike you want to take on. On my visit in January the woods were open the are multiple creek crossings and steep scrambles to see all of the falls.
The Trailhead: Persimmon Ridge Road intersects SC11 1.2 miles East of Wildcat Wayside. The road will be on the left. If you are coming from the other direction, it will be on your right, 3.6 miles from the junction of SC11 and US276. Once you are on Persimmon Ridge Road, follow it for 2.2 miles to an open area and a gated road on your right and park here.
The Hike: Start on the road beyond the gate. Almost immediately the trail will split. You want to take the left branch and head up the hill. The grade is going to remain steady as it climbs for 0.8 of a mile towatd Wattacoo Creek. You can see the uppermost waterfall, Waterfall #1 on Wattacoo Creek, from the trail and getting down to it is pretty easy. It isn’t huge but we’re only getting started. Return to the trail and head back the way you came for a short distance. You can hear the second waterfall but you can’t see it. At this point, it is off-trail until reaching the base of the final drop.
There are no landmarks I can give to tell you where to drop off the trail but we picked a spot that looked easy and headed down toward the creek before wrapping around the curve of the land until we could see the falls. From there we went down the steep bank to get in front of the falls. Waterfall #2 on Wattacoo Creek is bigger than the first waterfall and has a lot of interesting rock formations. From here, head back up the bank and continue downstream on river right until you pass the top of the next falls. Once you get past the falls, it is time to cross. There are several fallen trees in the creek and this was the easiest place to get across. Waterfall #3 on Wattacoo Creek is a long slide with a cascade.
Remain on river left t get to the next falls. We had to swing away from the creek to get around the short cliff at the top of the falls but getting to teh base was easy. Once you get to the base of Waterfall #4 on Wattacooo Creek, you will see the most unique of the drops. The creek comes straight down a narrow chute in a mossy crevice. Cross the creek below the base of the falls and continue downstream on river right to get to the next drop. You will have to cross back to river left to reach the base and the next interesting geologic feature, a large rock overhang on the left side of the creek. Waterfall #5 on Wattacoo Creek flows over a curving rock.
To get to the next waterfall, get back on river left and angle away from the creek to swing around the cliff the falls plunges over. The woods were very open and picking a place to head down was not too hard. This was about the furthest I got from the creek at any point in the hile. Once you pass the creek, angle upstream to the base of the falls and cross to the other side to continue on. Waterfall #6 on Wattacoo Creek is a vertical slide and the start of 3 drops very close together. From the base of this falls, you will have to swing wide on river right to get around a sheer drop. There is a lot of downfall to negotiate but once past the fallen trees higher up, the ground opens up to reach the base of Waterfall #7 on Wattacoo Creek.
To reach the next drop, I climbed down on river right, crossed the creek and went upstream to the nicer part of the drop. You could also shoot it in profile from river right but regardless, after leaving Waterfall #8 on Wattacoo Creek, you want to be on river left. To reach the next drop. swing away from the creek and head down the steep hillside. Your first view of the next drop will be a profile of the upper curtain and from there you can climb down close to the falls to reach the base of Waterfall #9 on Wattacoo Creek. From the base of this drop. head to river left and swing away from the creek to get down the steep slope to the base of the final drop and the trail out. You can see the trail on the way down and to get to the base of Waterfall #10 on Wattacoo Creek, you will have to get to the trail and walk to the base.
To get back to your car, take the Mountain Bridge Passage Trail up hill for 0.5 of a mile to get back to where you parked on Persimmon Ridge Road.