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Trail Guides

Twin Falls, Exploring The History of Eastatoe Valley, South Carolina

Guide to visiting Twin Falls nature preserve in sunset North Carolina

 

Considered by many to be the most unique waterfall in South Carolina, the 0.25 mile trail to visit Twin Falls via the Lower Twin Falls Trail is a must see for every waterfall chaser out there. As one of the dozen major waterfalls of the Jocassee Gorges region, this is also one of the tallest at 75 ft tall. Owned by a private foundation, this 25 acre nature preserve remains open to the public year round through a partnership with The Nature Conservancy of South Carolina. Located halfway between Devils Fork, Keowee Toxaway, and Table Rock State Parks, this waterfall would fit into any itinerary exploring the natural beauty of Western South Carolina. Steeped in Native American lore and early American history, the Eastatoe Valley in particular hides many secrets forgotten to the past.

Lower Twin Falls Trail | 0.25 Miles

Twin Falls Trail Map | Alltrails

Lower Twin Falls Trailhead Location | Google Maps

Twin Falls is a double waterfall located on Reedy Cove Creek in the small village of Sunset, which is known by many other names including; Reedy Cove Falls, Eastatoe Falls, Rocky Falls, and Triplet Falls. There are two separate trailheads located miles apart that take hikers to Twin Falls, with both having a unique perspective of the area. The 2.3 mile Upper Twin Falls Trail begins from a trailhead on Cleo Chapman Hwy. This strenuous out and back trail cuts a path along the rim of the gorge carved out by Reedy Cove Creek to the top of the falls. If you are just looking to take a small day hike in a peaceful setting then this might be for you, but be forewarned, you can’t really see Twin Falls from this vantage point. This small piece of information eludes some hikers whom leave disappointed by the lack of views standing atop the falls.

Entrance to twin falls nature preserve in Jocassee gorges south carolina

Those looking to get an up close and full frontal view of this photogenic waterfall will want to hike the Lower Twin Falls Trail. The short 0.25 mile trail to see the falls begins from the cul-de-sac located at the end of Water Falls Rd. More of a short stroll through the woods than a hike, this trail travels along the cascading stream of Reedy Cove Creek to a viewing platform atop the falls basin. Getting here is quite easy as the trailhead can be found using most map and trail apps.

Reedy cove creek in the twin falls nature preserve in Jocassee gorges South Carolina

Driving through a small community of rural homes, you’ll be directed to the end of a narrow gravel road with half a dozen parking spaces. During the prime waterfall viewing season of spring and fall, this trail can be hard to get into as it is popular with locals and tourists visiting one of the many nearby state parks. Being short on time, but having the desire to see one of the beautiful waterfalls of the Jocassee Gorges, I took a small detour to hike the Lower Twin Falls Trail to see this unique natural feature. 

 

Cascades of reedy cove creek in twin falls nature preserve of South Carolina

Following the trailhead from the parking lot, our path to Twin Falls travels alongside the beautiful clear waters of Reedy Cove Creek. With cascades tumbling downhill over large boulders, surrounded by thickets of rhododendrons, and a canopy of beech and hemlock trees, this place reminds me a lot of the Great Smoky Mountains. At one point during the early 1900’s, much of this land had been logged and partially deforested by the Appalachian Lumber Company and then the Singer Sewing Company. Many of the black steel sewing machines you might come across in antique shops, have their cabinets made from wood harvested in this area nearly 100 years ago. The trail itself was once a part of a narrow gauge rail line, much like that of Whittleton Arch Trail in Red River Gorge, that transported logs from the ridges above Reedy Cove Creek to what’s now Cleo Chapman Hwy.

 

Reedy cove creek in twin falls nature preserve in South Carolina

Though I initially thought that this would be more of an off-trail site, it is actually a privately owned nature preserve. Known for his legacy of philanthropic work throughout the Southeast, Phil Felburn purchased the 25 acres surrounding Twin Falls in 1984. Desiring to keep this area from being further developed, he purchased the property with the intent of preserving it in its natural state and turning it into a nature preserve for the general public to enjoy. In conjunction with an easement with The Nature Conservancy of South Carolina, Twin Falls remains free and open to the public to enjoy year round. Aside from more recent events, the history of the Eastatoe Valley reaches back hundreds of years, predating the founding of the 13 original colonies. 

Viewing platform in twin falls nature preserve in Jocassee gorges South Carolina

Secretly tucked into the greater Jocassee Gorges Wilderness, the Eastatoe Valley is known for its narrow gorges, lush forests, and bountiful waterfalls. Lying at the bottom of the Blue Ridge escarpment, most of the swelling rivers from far Western North Carolina flow downstream into this region, making it a haven for waterfalls. Considered one of the most beautiful places in the Southeast, the Eastatoe Valley is part of the ancestral home of the Cherokee, whom early settlers dubbed the Eastatoe Indians. Much of this regions history is layered in Cherokee myths and lore going back thousands of years. The name Jocassee itself, is roughly translated into, “Place of the lost one”. As mysterious and captivating as that phrase may sound, Jocassee was also the real life name of local Cherokee Chief Attakullakulla.

Twin falls waterfall in Jocassee gorges South Carolina

Attakullakulla was Chief of the local band of Cherokees that inhabit the Lower Towns in the far western corner of South Carolina during the early years of American colonization. Farther upstream from Twin Falls in the heart of the Eastatoe Valley was once a thriving Cherokee town that was the main trading hub between natives and settlers outside of Keowee, the site of present Keowee Toxaway State Park. While the first few decades of interactions were peaceful, further expansion by English settlers and pushback from Native Americans led to a  largely forgotten conflict in 1760 known as the Cherokee Wars. Fought between the English redcoats and Cherokees over a several year span, it helped set the stage for the alliances that would come together to eventually defeat England in the Revolutionary War.

 

Twin Falls waterfall in Jocassee gorges South Carolina

Digging deeper into the areas history, it’s been noted that in the native Cherokee language, Eastatoe is roughly translated into “valley of the green bird” which is a reference to the now extinct Carolina Parakeet. This once thriving bird species native to the Carolinas and stretching as far north as Wisconsin was once North Americas only native parrot. If this place didn’t already feel like a tropical paradise, how amazing would it be to see parrots flying overhead while viewing this spectacular waterfall! With an influx of precipitation upstream, Twin Falls transforms into a triple waterfall with a third stream cascading down the far right side of the cliff. Partially obscured by the dense shrubbery, it’s best viewed during winter when you can see the full scope of the 100 foot wide cliff.

 

Twin Falls waterfall in Jocassee Gorges South Carolina

Even though it’s possible to take the quick stroll to see the falls and be over and done with it in a matter of minutes, a gazebo perched up on the cliffs offers visitors a chance to sit and enjoy the scenery for as long as they want. Those interested in exploring more of the Eastatoe Valley should make the journey to the Eastatoe Creek Heritage Preserve. Nestled within a pristine mountain gorge upstream from Twin Falls, a 1.7 mile trail takes you to a series of waterfalls known as The Narrows. As for me, I’m headed due east to summit the granite monolith of Table Rock in Table Rock State Park. Stay tuned for our upcoming article and until next time, see y’all on the trails!

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