Long Creek, Opossum Creek, & Brasstown Falls (12-25-15)
This trifecta of waterfalls, tucked into the northwestern corner of South Carolina, moved onto my radar while ago exclusively due to the fact that they are all included on the CMC Waterfall 100 Challenge List. Located west of Walhalla two of them, Long Creek and Opossum Creek, sit within spitting distance of the Chattooga River and require decently strenuous hikes. Brasstown, on the other hand, doesn't require much of a walk but its three unique drops require some interesting (and potentially very dangerous) scrambling to see in their entirety. Finding myself with a day to burn this Christmas I decided to give myself the gift of waterfalls and woodland solitude. I just had to convince the weather to cooperate. The previous two days had dropped over 6" of rain and, according to the local weather office, more was on the way. Fortune was smiling on me this day, however, and the precipitation held off just long enough to fit in all three falls without so much as a passing shower. Oh, and did I mention it was also pushing 70 DEGREES this late December day?!
So...the first target of the day would be Long Creek Falls. Round-trip the hike to this cascade would be a bit over 3-miles. Though the trail isn't an 'official' one I found it well-traveled and easy to follow for its entire length. Starting from the end of Turkey Ridge Road the hike involved a mostly gradual descent...that is, until I neared the Chattooga. The last quarter mile of trail is a completely different animal altogether. Dropping so steeply that branch and root handholds are necessary at times, this last stretch of trail dead ends at the Chattooga River itself alongside where it is joined by Long Creek. The waterfall was visible just upstream. Normally a walk along the banks of Long Creek and a quick rock-hop would take one right up to the falls but all the rain we'd received the last couple days had swollen the Chattooga to such a point that this simply wasn't possible. I had to resort to some good old-fashioned bushwhacking, therefore, to reach the base of the falls. All that was left then was the crazy steep climb out.
Up next would be Opossum Creek Falls. Backtracking down Turkey Ridge Road about two miles I parked next to the gated F.S.755F and picked up the trail a few hundred feet east. Like the trail to Long Creek Falls the first half of the two mile hike to the falls involved a fairly gentle downhill walk. The second half is a bit steeper but its not all that outrageous. The path follows the drainage of Camp Branch all the way to the Chattooga. It was interesting to watch tiny Camp Branch grow from a trickle near the trailhead to a full-fledged stream at the bottom. Upon reaching the Chattooga signage marked the continuation of the trail back up nearby Opossum Creek about a half mile to the falls. Despite what I had read about this path being a rugged one I didn't find it that much worse than the main trail down although the last 100-feet or so before the falls involves climbing over a few boulders. Opossum Falls was a real beauty and much larger than I had expected. The climb back out was a bit taxing but having scenic Camp Branch to follow (and visually distract me) once again helped a lot.
Brasstown Falls (which are actually three waterfalls in one) are located only a few miles drive away from Long Creek and Opossum and so it went without saying that I'd include them on this trip. After logging nearly 8-miles already the short quarter-mile hike to get to these falls was also agreeably short. The three cascades that constitute Brasstown are known (upper to lower) as Brasstown Cascades, Brasstown Veil, and Brasstown Sluice. The trail to the brink of the Cascades is flat and easy...the path down past the other two takes a bit of mountain goat skill and shouldn't be attempted by the novice hiker. All together these three distinct cascades, in my opinion, comprise one of the most scenic stretches of falling water in Upstate South Carolina. They were incredibly (and, unexpectedly for such a short hike) beautiful.
So, there you go...three more waterfalls off my Waterfall 100 Challenge list. Come on along with me and see what I discovered in this beautiful and lesser-visited corner of the southern mountains...
Long Creek Falls Hike
Trailhead GPS Coordinates: 34.777575, -83.312360
Hike Length: 3.3 miles Hike Duration: 1:30
Trailhead Temp: 62'F
Min. Elevation: 1,120' Max. Elevation: 1,500'
Total Vertical Gain: 380' Avg. Elevation Gain / Mile: 230' (return)
Trails Used (blaze color): Long Creek Falls Trail (unblazed)
Opossum Creek Falls Hike
Trailhead GPS Coordinates: 34.773577, -83.304850
Hike Length: 4.0 miles Hike Duration: 2:00
Trailhead Temp: 65'F
Min. Elevation: 950' Max. Elevation: 1,730'
Total Vertical Gain: 780' Avg. Elevation Gain / Mile: 390' (return)
Trails Used (blaze color): Opossum Creek Falls Trail (white)
Brasstown Falls Hike
Trailhead GPS Coordinates: 34.719204, -83.301733
Hike Length: 0.7 miles Hike Duration: 0:45
Trailhead Temp: 70'F
Min. Elevation: 900' Max. Elevation: 1,050'
Total Vertical Gain: 150' Avg. Elevation Gain / Mile: 200'
Trails Used (blaze color): Brasstown Falls Trail (yellow)