South Carolina
Hiking to the Waterfalls of the Carolinas
Hike an ancient Cherokee trail and discover the awe-inspiring beauty of the Carolinas’ many waterfalls, where you’ll learn about the region’s flora, fauna and hike over 12 waterfalls.
Rating (4.65)
Program No. 14025RJ
6 days
Starts at
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6 days
5 nights
15 meals
5 B 5 L 5 D
Getting There
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Check-in, Registration, Orientation, Welcome Dinner
Pickens, SC
Pickens Youth Learning Institute

Dinner: Dinner will be served at the Learning Center's dining facility at 6:00 p.m.

Evening: This evening will provide participants an opportunity to become more familiar with each other.

Yellow Branch Falls, Stumphouse Tunnel, Issaquenna Falls
Pickens, SC
Pickens Youth Learning Institute

Breakfast: A hot breakfast will be served in the Education Center's dining facility

Morning: This morning we will board our vans to Hike Yellow Branch Falls. Yellow Branch is approx. 41 minutes from the Youth Learning Center. We will travel in a Turtle Top bus. Yellow Branch is a 3.4 mile hike round trip. There are 5 stream crossings in which you will need appropriate water shoes. We will have a bag lunch under one of the pavilions when we return to the parking lot at the start of the hike. After lunch we will load up the bus and travel 200 yards to explore both Stumphouse Tunnel and Issaquenna Falls. With more than 60,000 visitors a year, the tunnel is one of the most visited historical sites in SC. The dream was to develop a railroad line from Charleston, SC to Cincinnati, Ohio. The Blue Ridge Rail Line was completed from Charleston to Pendleton by 1850's but the granite Stumphouse Mountain presented a major challenge. Work continued in spite of numerous problems including an unscrupulous construction company, high operating costs and the inability to secure funding. Workers were able to cut 1,600 feet from the western opening before state funds ran out in 1859. Before more money could be acquired, the War Between the States began. The town of Tunnel Hill faded into history. After the war, SC was in no position to continue construction of the rail line, thus the tunnel remains unfinished. Issaqueena Falls is a beautiful waterfall named for a Creek maiden. There are many legends. The most popular tells about a girl named Issaqueena who was captured by the Cherokee. As a young woman she met and fell in love with a white trader. She overheard a Cherokee plan to attack the settlements on the frontier. To warn her lover, she rode a pony 96 miles to his trading fort. Over time, they had a baby & moved back to Stumphouse Mountain. One day, the Cherokee Chief sent warriors to capture her. Knowing that the Cherokee believed evil spirits lived in waterfalls, she pretended to leap to her death but safely hid on the ledge.

Lunch: Picnic lunch at the entrance of Yellow Branch Falls

Afternoon: Participants will explore Issaqueena Falls and Stumphouse Tunnel.

Dinner: Dinner will be served at the Youth Learning Institute's Headquarters & Education Center dining facility.

Evening: Evening Presentation

Upper and Lower Whitewater Falls
Pickens, SC
Pickens Youth Learning Institute

Breakfast: A hot breakfast will be served at the Education Center's dining facility.

Morning: We'll travel by the Turtle Top to Upper Whitewater Falls on the North Carolina/South Carolina Border. The drive is approx. 35 minutes from the Youth Learning Center. The hike to the Upper Whitewater falls is .5 miles (1 mile round trip). These falls are the highest waterfall east of the Rockies. The falls plunge an amazing 411 feet! South Carolina's Lower Whitewater Falls drops another 400 feet. Because of the escarpment's difficult access and rugged terrain, much of the area receives few visitors and has remained wild and undeveloped over years. In the cool, moist shade of steep slopes and rock cliffs, wildflowers and salamanders abound. This wild land is a perfect haven for a rich array of ferns, mosses and fungi. Enjoy the beauty of berries and blooms throughout the seasons.

Lunch: We will have a bag lunch at the viewing point of Lower Whitewater Falls.

Afternoon: A short van ride will take us to Lower Whitewater Falls. This ride is only 10 minutes. This is a moderate half day hike to an observation deck overlooking the beautiful Lower Whitewater Falls. The total distance for the hike is 3.4 miles with moderate hills. We will have our bag lunch on the viewing area.

Dinner: Dinner will be provided at the Education Center's dining facility.

Evening: Participants will have free time.

Caesars Head State Park, DuPont State Park and Twin Falls
Pickens, SC
Pickens Youth Learning Institute

Breakfast: A hot breakfast will be served for you at the Education Center's dining facility.

Morning: This morning we'll travel by van to Caesars Head State Park and DuPont State Park. It is approx. a 40 minute drive to Caesars Head State Park. Caesars Head State Park is a must see in the South Carolina Upstate. A granite outcropping atop the dramatic Blue Ridge escarpment, it offers breathtaking views year-round, especially when fall sets the hardwoods ablaze. Another annual highlight is the Hawk Watch program each fall, timed to allow visitors to marvel at the unforgettable sight of hundreds of soaring, swirling migrating raptors - hawks, kites, falcons, eagles and more - from the park visitors own perch at nearly 3,300 feet above sea level. After we enjoy Caesars Head State Park and their amazing gift store we will load up the Turtle Top van and drive to DuPont State Park and hike. DuPont State Forest is located in the Blue Ridge Mountains between Hedersonville and Brevard, NC. Its 10,400 acres of forest, 4 major waterfalls on Little River and several on Grassy Creek. The original 7600 acre forest was established in 1996 through a generous sale from the DuPont Corporation. In 2000 the Forest was expanded by 2 property additions, including the spectacular 2200 acre tract in the center of the Forest containing High Falls, Triple Falls and Bridal Veil Falls. This Forest probably has as much falling water per square mile as any public land in the Southeast. Hooker Falls is an easy 5-10 minute walk downstream from the access area. It drops off a 12 foot ledge directly into Cascade Lake. The waterfall features and observation deck. It is a 10-15 minute hike to Triple Falls. This is a 150 foot waterfall featuring 3 cascades. There is a short uphill to the viewing area. Enjoy the side trail to the river between the second and third cascades. Continue up the hill from the Triple Falls viewing area and turn left where you will find High Falls. There is a side trail to the base of the waterfall.

Lunch: A bag lunch will be enjoyed while hiking and viewing the falls. We will eat our lunch at Hooker Falls.

Afternoon: After lunch we will load up the Turtle Top and head to Twin Falls. The trip to the falls is approx. 50 minutes. Twin Falls is an easy .25 mile hike in and another .25 hike out. After the hike we will load up the Turtle Top and return to the Center. It is approx. a 25 minute drive back to the center.

Dinner: Dinner will be provided at the Youth Learning Center

Evening: Lake Joccassee Presentation

Lake Jocassee, Station Cove Falls, BBQ SC Botanical Gardens
Pickens, SC
Pickens Youth Learning Institute

Breakfast: The day will start with a hot breakfast served at the Education Center's dining facility.

Morning: Travel by Turtle Top to Lake Jocassee for a boat trip to see Jocasse Falls. This is a 25 minute drive to Lake Jocassee. We will then be on two boats with Brooks and Kay Wade for approx. 3 hours. Lake Jocasse is tucked into the shadows of the Blue Ridge Mountains. It is one of the most scenic lakes in the country with a back drop of mountains & several waterfalls that pour into the lake. The valley where the lake is located was once home to 4 mighty rivers. It is surrounded by over 50,000 of protected state land. The lake has 7,500 acres of water & 90 miles of shoreline.

Lunch: Participants will enjoy bag lunches at Devil's Fork State Park.

Afternoon: After lunch we will load up the Turtle Top and head to Station Cove Falls. Station Cove is approx. 22 minutes from Lake Jocassee. Then we will hike the quick 30 minute hike of Station Cove Falls. After the hike we will load up the buses and head back to the Youth Learning Center. It will be a 33 minute drive back to the center. Participants will arrive back at the center and be able to change/shower and relax before we depart for the SC Botanical Gardens at/around 5:00 PM.

Dinner: Dinner will be a BBQ style picnic at the SC Botanical Gardens.

Evening: Walk through the SC Botanical Gardens

Drive to Downtown Greenville & walk Falls Park on the Reedy
Pickens, SC

Activity note: Participants will wake up and have breakfast. After breakfast the participants can clean up and pack up their vehicles. After packing, participants will have the option of riding in our Mini bus or driving their personal vehicle to downtown Greenville. Downtown Greenville is a great departure point for all participants and only a mile from I-385/I-85 connector.

Breakfast: A hot breakfast will be served at the Education Center's dining facility.

Morning: After participants have packed up their vehicles, they will have the option to ride in our mini bus or travel in their own personal vehicle to Downtown Greenville where we will park and walk the Falls Park of the Reedy waterfall. After the walk we will have a bag lunch provided. Participants are more than welcome to explore downtown Greenville and all of its amazing restaurants.

Lunch: Bag lunch will be provided if wanted. Participants are able to explore the restaurants in downtown Greenville.

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