Moonshine Falls (9-9-15)
How can you not be intrigued by a place called Moonshine Falls? From the first time I heard of it I knew I had to go...especially once I discovered that there were still remnants of the occupation which gave the falls its name still lying in a cave nearby! The falls are fairly easy to get to from a hiking standpoint. Access, however, is a bit more problematic. With proper planning though even access isn't really an issue...I'll explain.
The most practical route to Moonshine Falls is via the Asbury Trail, which begins at the Asbury Hills Camp and Retreat Center and follows a (for the most part) gentle grade to the falls. In the summer, though, the camp can be busy and access is frequently restricted to camp guests only. My suggestion is to call ahead (864-836-3711) to request permission...definitely during the summer and year-round out of courtesy. The Asbury Trail, constructed by the camp (THANKS!!!) leads a mile-and-a-half to an interesting cable bridge crossing of Matthews Creek just before its junction with the wild Naturaland Trail. After another half mile you reach an area known as the "Hot Spot" where a small kiosk warns of the dangers of wilderness travel in these parts. Beyond the kiosk you follow an obvious route (with a couple easy to locate turns which I highlight in photographs) before arriving at the beautifully secluded Moonshine Falls. With old brewing barrels still rusting in the overhang behind the falls it is not hard, considering the wild view and the effort you just made to get here, why this may have been a prime spot to conduct an illegal activity. The arrival of a large thunderstorm and the torrential rains that followed resulted in a painfully short visit but it is certainly one I will remember for years to come. If you'd like, please join and see what I discovered on my way to Moonshine Falls...
Trailhead GPS Coordinates: 35.079919, -82.639567
Route Type: Out-and-back + spurs
Hike Length: ~6.0 miles Hike Duration: 2:15
Trailhead Temp: 75'F Trail Traffic: 5-10 people
Min. Elevation: 1,200' Max. Elevation: 1,720'
Total Vertical Gain: 600' Avg. Elevation Gain / Mile: 200'
Trails Used (blaze color): Ashbury (red), Ashbury Falls Spur (unblazed), Cascade Falls Spur (unblazed), Moonshine Falls Spur (unblazed), Naturaland Trust (pink)