Jocassee Gorges, SC: Laurel Fork Falls via Foothills Trail

Link waterfalls, rushing creeks, and a refreshing swimming hole on this 14.6-miler in Jocassee Gorges.
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Link waterfalls, rushing creeks, and a refreshing swimming hole on this 14.6-miler in Jocassee Gorges.

The choice hikes in the South offer a chance to get wet—and this 14.6-mile out-and-back hits rushing creeks, big waterfalls, and a perfect swimming hole. From Laurel Valley Road, head west on the Foothills Trail four miles to reach Laurel Fork Creek. Turn left and follow it west downstream to two campsites near the top of 80-foot Lower Fork Falls. Make camp, then scramble down into a cove to swim where a series of falls plunges from a grotto into Lake Jocassee.

-Mapped by Nicole Pettinelli

Trail Facts

  • Distance: 23.5

Waypoints

LFF001

Location: 35.050841, -82.812892

Hike south from the trailhead.

LFF002

Location: 35.050218, -82.81257

Bear right.

LFF003

Location: 35.0541, -82.816851

From this bench, the trail snakes to the southwest, traversing the forested slopes below Flatrock Mountain (to the north).

LFF004

Location: 35.043806, -82.838545

Laurel Fork Gap: Follow Laurel Fork west downstream.

LFF005

Location: 35.031753, -82.895193

Look for two campsites near the top of 80-foot Lower Fork Falls. Make camp, then scramble down into a cove to swim where a series of falls plunges from a grotto into Lake Jocassee. Next day: Turn around and retrace steps to the trailhead.