Gorges State Park - Lower Bearwallow Falls & the Auger Hole (4-30-14) - dwhike
I had seen pictures and knew that Lower Bearwallow Falls was a beauty but I was still spellbound.  The delicate nature of the falling water, the ruggedness of the surrounding cliffs, the lushness of the forest, and the way the mist seemed to just hang in the air all came together here to create one of the most surreal and serene natural settings I've ever experienced...

Little by little I'm nibbling off the trails in Gorges State Park. One section I'd never been on as the western half of the Auger Hole Trail which climbs 2 miles from the Toxaway River to the western boundary of the park. Though in itself its rather unspectacular (unless you appreciate how wonderfully isolated this stretch of forest is), there are a number of natural and man-made features not far off the trail which makes this area of the park one of its most unique.

Beginning at Turkeypen Gap (FYI, there's no trailhead parking here, I was dropped off!) I would make my way down towards the Toxaway River. Along the way I'd be stopping by a couple of wonderful unnamed waterfalls, the site of some 100-year old lime kilns, the always stunning Lower Bearwallow Falls, before winding up down in the interior of the park at the Auger Hole at the confluence of Bearwallow Creek and the Toxaway River. All tallied up, between my time on and off the trail, this would be around a 5-mile hike. Sounds simple enough but my couple of bushwhacking forays along the way would remind me once again just how rugged a landscape this park contains. A bit battered by the end, this 'short' hike made me earn what I came to see which, I have to admit, made me appreciate the experience even more...


Hike Length:  ~4.5 miles                      Hike Duration:  3:30

Trailhead Temp:  60'F

Min. Elevation:  1,400'                           Max. Elevation:  1,850'

Total Vertical Gain:  450'                      Avg. Elevation Gain / Mile:  225'