Lower Whitewater Falls

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Sumter National Forest

Lower Whitewater Falls is a 4.2 mile heavily trafficked out and back trail located near Salem, South Carolina that features a lake and is rated as moderate. The trail is primarily used for hiking and is accessible year-round. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

Distance: 4.2 miles Elevation Gain: 882 feet Route Type: Out & Back

dogs on leash

hiking

forest

lake

river

views

waterfall

wild flowers

wildlife

Lower Whitewater Falls trail is located off of Bad Creek Rd. The parking lot, and part of the trails in this area, are maintained by Duke Energy Co. From this trailhead, you can hike to both Upper and Lower Whitewater Falls overlooks. However, this would be more challenging than hiking each separately from separate parking lots. Upper Whitewater Falls overlook can be accessed via a walkway/trail, rated as easy, and located at a different parking lot off of SR 281. This area is managed by the Forest Service. Please see trail here: https://www.alltrails.com/trail/us/north-carolina/upper-whitewater-falls-overlook-trail Both falls are beautiful and vast in size. Hence, in order to take in a full view of the falls, it requires being some distance away. Both are viewed via overlooks. The overlook for Lower Whitewater Falls is further away from the falls than the overlook for Upper Whitewater Falls. Both are worth seeing! The trails are in this area are well marked. Additionally, the trails in the Duke Energy section have good signage, at trail intersections, that includes mileage.

13 days ago

The actual trail head is currently closed because of Covid although if you drive past the actual parking area up just a few feet there is a pull off that puts you on the same trail! The trail itself is very narrow so if you are trying to socially distance, I recommend not going here as there were several times we were face-to-face with other hikers with no other way to get around them or pull to the side. The trial is absolutely beautiful and leads you to the base of white water falls (about 1.5miles to the lower falls and moderate to hard at times) which is more of a ravine with a few pool areas that come off of the falls. I dont recommend swimming in these although we did stick our feet in. You can not see White Water falls from the lower falls area at all, just the small ravine falls area, although still pretty. If you continue on the trail you can walk several miles to the white water falls viewing area. We chose to walk back to our car and noticed that if you drive a few more feet up, it takes you right to the main upper White Water Falls viewing area (about a 1/2 mile walk on paved roads because it was closed for covid). We had our athletic dog on the trail and she did great but I saw other dogs being carried

hiking
4 months ago

Good trail to lower waterfall

hiking
5 months ago

I would highly recommend this trail, it was very kept up with and the view was amazing!

hiking
muddy
5 months ago

Great

hiking
7 months ago

Forest hike without any views on the way but the waterfall is amazing. The falls really are something to see and you wont be disappointed. The trail is shaded most of the way.

hiking
7 months ago

This was a pretty good workout for us, one of our bigger elevation gains lately. The trails were well maintained and well marked. There are plenty of interconnecting trails in the area so don't forget to check your maps/gps if in doubt. We had the overlook to ourselves which made a great spot for our lunch as the view was spectacular and the overlook was a well maintained observation deck. We made sure to let the dogs play in the river when we got back to it to let them cool down before the final uphill to the parking lot.

hiking
10 months ago

To answer Jeremys question below and for anyone else who would like to see, the very bottom of White Water Falls empties into Lake Jocassee. The only access point is via boat ramp at Devils Fork State Park. The view is spectacular, although you cant see the upper or middle falls its still beautiful!

hiking
10 months ago

Lower Whitewater Falls trail is located off of Bad Creek Rd. The parking lot, and part of the trails in this area, are maintained by Duke Energy Co. From this trailhead, you can hike to both Upper and Lower Whitewater Falls overlooks. However, this would be more challenging than hiking each separately from separate parking lots. Upper Whitewater Falls overlook can be accessed via a walkway/trail, rated as easy, and located at a different parking lot off of SR 281. This area is managed by the Forest Service. Both falls are beautiful and vast in size. Hence, in order to take in a full view of the falls, it requires being some distance away. Both are viewed via overlooks. The overlook for Lower Whitewater Falls is further away from the falls than the overlook for Upper Whitewater Falls. Both are worth seeing! The trails are in this area are well marked. Additionally, the trails in the Duke Energy section have good signage, at trail intersections, that includes mileage.

Sun Apr 28 2019

Nice little hike but the overlook to the falls is a long way from the falls. You can’t really get close.

hiking
Sat Jan 26 2019

Ok hike, waterfall is ok. You're about a 1/4 mile away on and observation deck. Wouldnt really recommend unless you live in the area and just wanting to try something new. Plenty of better trails and waterfalls in the area.

walking
Fri Dec 21 2018

This walk is user friendly. It is paved all the way from the parking lot to the overlook. From the overlook, you can go down the stairs (155 steps) for a better view of the falls (I definitely suggest going down the stairs). From the lower viewing deck you can go even further but there is no view of the falls, as it is just a continuation of the Cherokee Foothills Trail that happens to run through this fall.

Sat Nov 03 2018

Super fun! Pretty easy hike and we saw a few people camping

hiking
Sat Oct 27 2018

Went on a hike with my wife and six and seven year old girls on 10/19/2018. The hike was pretty easy and quite enjoyable but we were disappointed in the view of the waterfall. Be aware that when you actually get close to the waterfall, you’re pretty much just hiking parallel to the falls and gradually making your way down the mountain and never actually heading to the base of the falls. We started at the Bad Creek parking lot and didn’t even complete the entire hike. Maybe about 80-90% of the hike as marked on this app. On the way back, we took the gravel road instead because we were in a hurry to head back due to losing daylight with my two young girls. Overall, the difficulty of the hike was easy. No climbing involved and the trail doesn’t get too steep at all. The trail is marked well enough and maintained. Easy enough for six and seven year old girls. Like I mentioned, the only reason we didn’t make it was due to losing light.

hiking
Sat Oct 20 2018

Beautiful hike! Just a little disappointed when the lower falls went to a overlook!! Does anybody know how to reach to the base of the whitewater falls?

hiking
Sun Oct 07 2018

Left the trail and beelined it down slope towards the falls. Immediately got attacked by yellow jackets, found a crashed airplane, got right on the lower falls and had a blast. Climbing back up through the dense foliage after the yellow jacket attack wasn’t fun but the day was great with lots of amazing photos.

hiking
Sun Jul 08 2018

We had a lot of fun hiking to these beautiful falls.

hiking
Sun Jul 01 2018

I went on June 30. The view was great, but I wish it was closer to the Falls. Looking at them from distance, you really miss the powerful energy then if you were closer. I’ll try the upper Falls next time.

Sun Apr 29 2018

Well worth the hike.

hiking
Sat Mar 10 2018

Wonderful hike with an incredible reward at the end. Highly recommended!

Sun Mar 04 2018

The trail length is around 5 miles total. Pretty hike.

hiking
Tue Feb 20 2018

My daughter and I hiked this tail yesterday, beautiful sunny day, 55 degrees! We started at the Bad Creek parking lot and hike to the top of Whitewater Falls and back. It was a nice hike we enjoyed it. Beautiful falls, well worth the hike!!

hiking
Fri Jan 19 2018

The falls are beautiful and powerful. A nice overlook!

Fri Sep 22 2017

Pretty hike!

hiking
Wed Aug 16 2017

Excellent trail. More "easy" than moderate... just a little ascending. The falls are some of the most beautiful I've seen in this area. Nice lookout 1m. from parking lot to see before or after by car.

Sun Aug 06 2017

Beautiful falls- well worth the hike! it's a very natural path and a pretty steep incline on the way back up. Great hike!

Thu Jul 20 2017

Gorgeous view of falls! Well marked beautiful trail. No crowds.

hiking
Wed Jun 21 2017

Nice day hike... viewing deck is small but luckily there were few people on the trail. Note that as you walk from the parking area to the top of the 1st rise the trail continues to the left. The trail that goes to the right leads down the steep incline to the lake and is very over grown.

Wed Mar 15 2017

Awesome trail, I would do it again, the falls are beautiful.

Wed Feb 01 2017

A nice moderate trail to a gorgeous view of the falls. Well worth the hike. An exceptional viewing deck overlooking the falls. This is definitely a falls not to miss.

hiking
Sat Jan 14 2017

Great Trail but distance is longer than what is recorded by about 1/2 mile. Waterfalls were awesome, but from a distance. I thought it as a moderate trail, however, there are some spots that are more strenuous. Well marked trail.

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