Monday, January 23, 2012

Secrets of Table Rock State Park

I went hiking yesterday with some friends. Andy, Jack, Johnny, and Brenda. Johnny Corn had suggested that we head over to Table Rock State Park in South Carolina. He'd recently been given detailed information that there were several recently discovered waterfalls in the park that were off trail and largely unknown to virtually all park visitors. We would have to do some bushwhacking to see each of these waterfalls, so the hike would be a strenuous one.

We used the Palmetto Trail to access the park. The terminus we used was in the campground section of the park which was surprisingly completely vacant. There's a large parking lot at the trail head that we used and soon we were heading up into the high country.

South Carolina's northwestern edge is very mountainous and the Blue Ridge Escarpment rises abruptly here. The elevation roars up from a few hundred feet above sea level to over 3,400 feet in a brief distance. This sudden increase in elevation produces conditions that have been conducive to a vast and varied ecosystem. It also is one of the most conducive for the creation of waterfalls. The area is packed cheek by jowl with, quite literally, many, many hundreds of top-notch waterfalls.

We were there to seek out seven of them. Seven that not many visitors to the park are likely to see, and six of which not many visitors to the park have ever seen.

I'll be posting images and video of our quest to find these waterfalls over the next few days.

This is the first waterfall we visited. We used an obviously well-known if unofficial trail to access it. The trail has had no engineering at all other than people using the most logical route to the base of this very high waterfall that plunges down the escarpment in a series of big plunges. The total height of the falls has to be close to 200 feet.

Another of the falls. This one was about 18 feet tall. Very pretty. It was the first of the five that we visited that required a full-on bushwhack to visit. There is no trail at all to these final five waterfalls. You have to go completely off trail and pick your way through the very rugged and lush terrain of this high southern land. The going is rugged and, at times, frankly dangerous.

This enormous waterfall lay just below the one in the previous photo. It is amazing to think that the park hides waterfalls such as this one. Places that most park visitors will never see and never even suspect.

I really liked this waterfall. It was farther below the one in the photo above. The river rushes down a kind of staircase. A total rush of sensation.

I think this one, the most easily accessible, is known locally as Rainbow Falls. There's a well trod but unofficial trail leading from the Palmetto Trail to the falls.

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