Hiking Hotspot: Yellow Branch Falls
Yellow Branch falls is one of many gorgeous waterfalls in the Upstate SC region. This one is located about an hour from Greenville, thus making it the perfect daytrip for those looking to explore the region beyond the trendy downtown region. The trail to access the falls is easy-moderate in intensity and just a little over a mile each way. While it is far from the tallest waterfall in the state (Raven Cliff claims the title at an estimated 400ft), the beauty in Yellow Branch comes from the cascading rocks and width which almost equals the height.
The setting within the Sumter National Forest is extremely tranquil and the forest lush & green. This hike is pretty shady, and thus still doable on the hottest and muggiest of South Carolina summer days. Located far away from any congestion, this trail remains peaceful year-round. Yellow Branch is the perfect hike for anyone looking for a real nature oasis. As you stroll through the forest, you will hear nothing but the soothing sounds of the creeks and smell nothing but the fresh scent of the pines. The trail barely sees more than a handful of hikers at a time.
The multi tiered waterfall stands 50 feet tall, 70 ft wide, and is best viewed after a major storm. The heaviest rainfall tends to occur during the spring and winter months. Lots of great photo opportunities abound near the waterfall. Fortunately, due to the lack of congestion, it is quite easy to obtain great photos. At many of the more popular state parks in the Upstate, it’s near impossible to enjoy the view due to the intense crowding. This one is a bit off-the-beaten path which helps stall the traffic a bit.
In contrast to many South Carolina trailheads, adequate parking is available. Trail markage is great and the path well-maintained. For those who have ever missed a trail marking, you know that this can easily cause you to rack up more mileage than intended. Although, in the case of the tranquil Yellow Branch trail, getting lost in the woods wouldn’t be all that bad.
What to do nearby?
Issaqueena Falls is another spectacular waterfall accessible via a 10 minute hike. It is located just down and the road and worthy of a visit while you are already in the area. Stumphouse Tunnel, an incomplete, abandoned tunnel built in 1850 for the Blue Ridge railroad, is also located in the vicinity. If you are up for a fright (ghostly legends abound), grab your flashlight and explore! Like Yellow Branch, the tunnel and Issaquena remain pretty quiet due to the isolated location.
Additionally, if you are coming from Greenville, you will pass right through the Clemson area. While you are in the vicinity, you will want to check out the beautiful South Carolina Botanical Garden.
- Distance: 1.3 miles out-and-back
- Difficulty: Easy-moderate (minor elevation changes and a few easy creek crossings)
- Location: The trailhead is located along SC Hwy 28 S. Walhalla, SC 29691. There is plenty of signage in the area directing you to the parking lot. The lot is reasonably large, so as long as you arrive by noon you should be fine. Parking is free.
- Bathroom at trailhead: Yes, Dogs allowed: Yes