Jumping Off Rock – Lake Jocassee, South Carolina
South Carolina | SC Picture Project | Pickens County Photos | Jumping Off Rock
Serene Lake Jocassee is best viewed from Jumping Off Rock, located in northern Pickens County. No one knows for sure where the name Jumping Off Rock came from, but its untouched, natural beauty is so sought-after that the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources is now providing year-round access to the cherished spot.
Within the Jocassee Gorges, a series of gorges within the Blue Ridge Escarpment, Jumping Off Rock provides visitors the experience of viewing a natural panorama with minimal human intrusion. Though hikers might see boats enjoying the lake, the vista here will not be interrupted by infrastructure and development.
In fact, nature literally takes precedent at Jumping Off Rock. In 2008 a nesting pair of peregrine falcons was discovered at the overlook. In order to protect the falcons – one of only two known nesting pairs in South Carolina – a new overlook was established. The SCDNR does offer occasional tours to see the birds, which must be scheduled in advance.
National Geographic magazine named the Jocassee Gorges “50 of the World’s Last Great Places: Destinations of a Lifetime” for its diversity of plants and wildlife and untouched landscape. One trip to Jumping Off Rock validates the magazine’s ranking of the pristine mountainous area.
The spectacular scenery can be credited in part to the efforts of Dr. Jim “Doc” Timmerman, Jr. Timmerman, director of the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources from 1974 to 1997, was a conservationist who instigated the state’s purchase and subsequent protection of of 50 square miles of land surrounding the lake. As a result, the area is officially known as the The Jim Timmerman Natural Resources Area. Timmerman died in 2005. A monument dedicated in his honor, seen below, was placed at Jumping Off Rock in 2010.
Because of its natural terrain, Jumping Off Rock is not an easy place to get to. The steep road that goes there is full of twists and bumps, but the view is worth the effort. For detailed directions on how to Jumping Off Rock, check out the South Carolina Wildlife Magazine’s Drive to Jumping Off Rock.
According to the SCDNR, ATVs (all-terrain vehicles) and licensed vehicles are allowed on the main roads on Jocassee Gorges from March 20th through May 10th and again from September 15th to January 15th. However, ATVs are not permitted to use the Horsepasture Road from May 11th until September 14th and from January 16th to March 19th in order to preserve the road and protect the local wildlife.
Reflections on Jumping Off Rock
Photographer Mark VanDyke shares, “Driving up to Jumping Off Rock via Horsepasture Road is quite an experience. I roll the windows down in my truck and enjoy every second of it. For a kid that grew up in a subdivision outside of Washington DC that itself was the size of most of the towns I now live in, the solitude and rugged nature of Horsepasture Road – not to mention the payoff of the view from the scenic Jumping Off Rock overlook – are something out of an adventure book that I must have dreamed when I was playing in my concrete jungle as a boy. Jumping Off Rock is widely known as the pinnacle view in the state of South Carolina, looking down upon Lake Jocassee and out into the mountains of Western North Carolina.”
SCIWAY visitor Denise Campbell of Pickens wrote to tell us that Jumping Off Rock is “a sight that one must see for themselves, for pictures cannot fully capture the beauty.”
Jumping Off Rock Info
Address: Off Horsepasture Road, Sunset, SC 29685
Jumping Off Rock Map
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The purpose of the South Carolina Picture Project is to celebrate the beauty of the Palmetto State and create a permanent digital repository for our cultural landmarks and natural landscapes. We invite you to add additional pictures (paintings, photos, etc) of Jumping Off Rock, and we also invite you to add info, history, stories, and travel tips. Together, we hope to build one of the best and most loved SC resources in the world!