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
- Distance: 23.5
Location: 35.050841, -82.812892
Hike south from the trailhead.
Location: 35.050218, -82.81257
Location: 35.0541, -82.816851
From this bench, the trail snakes to the southwest, traversing the forested slopes below Flatrock Mountain (to the north).
Location: 35.043806, -82.838545
Laurel Fork Gap: Follow Laurel Fork west downstream.
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.