Virginia Hawkins Falls & Jumping Off Rock (5-2-15)
Virginia Hawkins Falls is tucked away in a fairly remote section of the Jocassee Gorges of South Carolina known as the Laurel Fork Heritage Preserve. If you own a vehicle that can handle the rough 3.5 mile drive from the main highway north of the community of Rocky Bottom the hike isn't all that bad. Up until 2004 the waterfall was actually known as Double Drop Falls (and, in some publications, still is) but was renamed by the Foothills Trail Conference for one of its former executive secretaries. The main access to the falls follows the Foothills Trail along an old logging road to within a quarter mile of the beautiful cascade. Even though it isn't all that large, 25' tall at best, the delicate nature and seclusion of this cascade come together here in perfect unison.
After visiting the falls my boys and I decided to make the remaining 6.5 mile drive out to the famous overlook of Lake Jocassee known as Jumping Off Rock, which we had never visited. I can say this about the drive...don't take any low-slung vehicles out here, in fact four wheel drive is almost a necessity in places. The drive is sperctacular, however. If you haven't been, GO! I've been to a long list of beautiful places in these mountains but the first views from Jumping Off Rock were still jaw-dropping to me. Trust me, my humble pics don't even come close to replicating the immensity of the panorama up there. Combined, Virginia Hawkins Falls and Jumping Off Rock, made for a very memorable visit to the Jocassee Gorges of South Carolina...
Trailhead GPS Coordinates: 35.044027, -82.838239
Hike Length: 3.5 miles Hike Duration: 1:30
Trailhead Temp: 75'F
Min. Elevation: 1,650' Max. Elevation: 2,080'
Total Vertical Gain: 430' Avg. Elevation Gain / Mile: 123'