Gorges State Park

Photo Courtesy – Rich Stevenson

The Jocassee Gorges Wilderness Area is some of the most rugged and demanding land in North Carolina. There are waterfalls all over the place here, but only a few are easily accessible. This is the place hardcore hikers and waterfall enthusiasts go for an adventure. If something happens to you out here, you’re done.

Gorges State Park is relatively new and is still growing. Park officials are still building trails and mapping out the land to figure out what exactly lies in the park boundaries. There are two main access points to the park. The eastern side of the park is accessed via Frozen Creek Road a few miles down from the intersection of NC 215. But unless you have a four-wheel drive truck with really high ground clearance, you have a 5-mile hike just down Auger Hole Road, not to mention all of the other trails spurring off the road to the various waterfalls. If you get to a point where you’re feeling brave enough, Kevin Adams’ book on North Carolina waterfalls has a ton of good information.

The other main access point is via NC highway 281. There is a brand new visitor’s center that can give you all the information you need about the park. If you’re the camping type, you can access the park’s campgrounds here. There are two primary trails to waterfalls here.

Upper Bearwallow Falls
Hidden Falls
Rainbow Falls
Turtleback Falls
Drift Falls