The Jocassee Gorges region is known for an abundance of waterfalls that can be reached on foot or by boat. This abundance is attributed to several factors, including the hardness of the local rock. Another factor is the presence of a plateau area between the highest part of the mountain range and the rapid decrease in elevation—the Blue Ridge Escarpment—around the South Carolina border. The plateau area allows the rivers to gain volume from the numerous creeks and streams that feed into them. This brings us to another factor: the unusually high local rainfall—80 inches per year—which feeds the creeks and streams, which feed the rivers, and so on and so forth.
Laurel Fork Falls
The crème de la crème of Lake Jocassee waterfalls—the one that’s singled out most in guide books and maps—is Laurel Fork Falls. This 80-foot beauty is only reachable by boat and features three sections. A small pool makes a nice swimming hole at the base of the middle section if you’re willing to climb up the rocks to reach it. The lower section tumbles into the lake at the end of a long, finger-like cove and can be reached by boat if the water’s high enough. Otherwise, you’ll have to hoof it along the dry portions of the lake bed and shoreline. The best way to see the upper section is to tie your boat off at the mouth of the cove and take a section of the Foothills Trail to the overlook—a highly recommended and mile-long round trip.
At the extreme northwest corner of the lake where the Whitewater River flows in, you can only see the final tumbling rapids of Whitewater Falls from your boat. Although it’s impossible to take in the entirety of Whitewater Falls from a single vantage point, this waterfall is definitely worth mentioning as it’s claimed to be the highest series of falls east of the Mississippi, including a 411-foot drop. Its first major section, Upper Whitewater Falls, begins at the top of the Blue Ridge Escarpment in North Carolina. The second section, Lower Whitewater Falls, ends at the bottom of the escarpment in South Carolina. Two overlooks, inaccessible from the lake, are worth the drive and the short hike to view these impressive falls.
Waterfall Boat Tours
Rent one of our boats for a waterfall tour, or choose to take a guided tour from a local expert. Just be sure to find a map of waterfall locations if you decide to go solo. Otherwise, you’ll waste a lot of gas looking for waterfalls as Lake Jocassee spreads out in all directions from its wide main body. A guided tour will take you directly to the falls if you’re willing to spend a little extra.
Call now to learn more about our rentals and book a guided tour. Our guide, Stephanie Couch, has more than 20 years of experience navigating these waters and can guarantee a memorable waterfall experience. Stephanie will meet you and your family at the boat ramp, so all you have to do is show up and hop on!
Many of the falls on Lake Jocassee are unnamed—or unofficially named—smaller falls found at the end of coves on the northern half of the lake. Two of the more spectacular waterfalls with official names are Wright Creek Falls and Mill Creek Falls.
Wright Creek Falls has two sections, the lower of which plunges directly into the lake at high water levels. At lower water levels, you can tie off your boat and walk behind the falls.
Mill Creek Falls cascades over a sheer rock face, allowing you to pull your boat right up to the splashing water. If you have a pontoon, your kids are sure to love this waterfall. They can play in it from the front of the boat!
Throughout the area, you’ll also find these impressive waterfalls:
- White Owl Falls
- Twin Falls
- High Falls
- Big Falls
- Horsepasture River Falls