Wildcat Falls – Cleveland, South Carolina
South Carolina | SC Picture Project | Greenville County Photos | Wildcat Falls
Warning: Upper Wildcat Falls is extraordinarily dangerous; it has been the site of numerous deaths.
The lower section of Wildcat Falls, also called Wildcat Wayside Falls and Wildcat Branch Falls, can be seen right off the Cherokee Foothills Scenic Highway (SC 11) in Greenville County. No hiking is required to enjoy this portion of the waterfall, which means anyone can go!
The falls, which are part of the Mountain Bridge Wilderness Area, are managed by South Carolina’s state park system. There are actually three tiers in all, each of which is fed by Wildcat Branch Creek, one of the tributaries of the South Saluda River. The waterfall visible from the road, shown above, tumbles 30 feet before landing in a shallow granite pool. The lower falls stand perpendicular to SC 11, and like most falls, they are best viewed after a hard rain.
To the left of Lower Wildcat Falls lies a set of earthen and stone stairs. Climbing these, one reaches Middle Wildcat Falls, seen below, which feature a 10-foot cascade. The trail crosses Wildcat Branch Creek at the base of the middle falls and leads to the foundations of a shelter built here in the late 1930s, when the Civilian Conservation Corps, as part of Roosevelt’s New Deal, constructed what was then known as Greenville Wayside Park. This park was one of six set up in South Carolina to provide resting spots for traveling motorists. The shelter’s fireplace and chimney remain in tact.
Climbing a quarter of a mile further, one comes to the base of Upper Wildcat Falls, not shown. This tier descends in a 100-foot free-fall. Its crest is extraordinarily dangerous and has been the site of numerous fatal accidents. Rescue officials warn that no degree of caution can protect someone from tragedy at this slippery location. Although warning signs have been erected, they are commonly vandalized or stolen. Please exercise extreme caution when visiting Upper Wildcat Falls and enjoy the view only from its base. The park system has closed the path after this point due to the danger of crossing the fall’s boulders.
Wildcat Falls is located between two extremely popular state parks, Caesar’s Head and Jones Gap, each of which have many waterfalls and cascades within their boundaries as well. Another site not to be missed when visiting Wildcat Falls is the unmarked scenic overlook, known as the Bald Rock Heritage Preserve and sometimes Shining Rock, pictured below.
SCIWAY contributor Barry Gooch says that the easiest way to find the Bald Rock Heritage Preserve is to “head south from Caesar’s Head on US 276 (Geer Highway). Drive about four miles and you will pass a road to the left called Persimmon Ridge Road. Drive another 0.5 miles, and Club Terrace Drive will be on the right. I don’t know if either of these roads are marked. The overlook will be another 0.1 miles on the left. It isn’t marked and the bald is obscured by trees. There is no parking lot, though enough people stop at the overlook that a makeshift parking area exists on the left side of the highway near the path to the bald. It’s an easy 50 yard walk from the highway and is well worth the time and effort. Be careful though, the rocks can be slippery!” (Please be aware that the slippery rocks can be dangerous and even fatal.)
Wildcat Falls Info
Address: Geer Highway, Cleveland, SC 29635
Wildcat Falls Map
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