Upper and Lower Whitewater Falls

It has been debated that Whitewater Falls is the tallest the east of the Rockies, but Amicalola Falls is one continuous falls over 700+ feet and claim that title for themselves. There is an Upper Whitewater falls at 411 and a Lower Whitewater falls at 400 feet. The Whitewater River is in between and it plunges into Whitewater Gorge, making some consider them not connected as one continuous falls. I am not going to join the debate, I am just going to say we visited them and they are awesome! The trail to get the the Upper falls isn’t bad at all, about 1 and a half miles, maybe a little more. It doesn’t take long to get there. There’s a paved walk way up to a point, then you climb wooded stairs to the observation deck. That may seem like it takes awhile, but there are platforms where you can rest at a few intervals. The Upper Whitewater falls area was badly affected by the fires that were in WNC in 2016 and just opened back up for visitors the month before we went. We could tell the wood for all the steps and the observation deck was brand new. There were still some charred stumps on either side. If you are looking for some really long hiking, The Foothills Trail goes past the observation deck here at the Upper falls and is marked by white blazes. The Foothills trail is a long trail crossing over about 76 miles. But from here, you can follow it to Bad Creek Access and blue blazes to get to the Lower Whitewater falls about 9 and a half miles later. Keep in mind, those are one way miles. We opted to not got too far down the trail at Upper Whitewater falls.

We drove to just over the SC line and onto Duke Power property where we parked in lot that has lights and a couple of port-a-johns. Once here, we took the Bad Creek Access trail until it crossed with the Foothills trail. It was about 2 and a half miles one way. We crossed over the river at one point, going over two bridges. The river was so clear and inviting, but it had started to thunder so we kept moving. The Lower Whitewater falls is just as impressive as the Upper. It flows into Lake Jocassee. If you drive just past where you pull into Duke Power to go to the parking area, there is a pull off area where you can see Lake Jocassee. There is an observation deck at the Lower as well. There are more trails to follow from here if you feel adventurous, but this is where we had to turn around and head back. We had just gotten to the bridges when the rain started to fall…. HARD! The morning had started out so sunny and beautiful that we has left our rain gear in the truck. By the time we hiked the remaining mile and a half out, we were soaked from head to toes. Thank goodness we had packed dry clothes. These trails are just as knarly as the Glens Falls trail and a little longer. Take plenty of water with you. You would probably be wise to take a snack like fruit or granola along. Go when you have time and can pace yourself. The Lower Whitewater falls trail didn’t look like it saw as much foot traffic as the Upper, and it is the longer of the two trails. Be sure your footwear is very trail-safe; for example, don’t wear open toed shoes or casuals for these trails. There are lots of roots and rocks. When it starts raining hard, there are lots of puddles too! It wouldn’t hurt to carry a small backpack with some extra socks and maybe a rain jacket or wind breaker just in case the weather changes on you. There are many other trails you can venture out on if you like. These two falls were a great experience for us, absolutely breathtaking! Wonderful views and and an experience we will not forget.

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