The upper drop consists of a short cascade followed by a free-fall, with most of the flow on the right but a few ribbons of water on the left. After the short run of rapids and cascades, the lower free-fall section begins and it is split as well with most of the water on the right when the water is low (it evens out more during higher flow). It ends in some cascades into a couple of rocky pools.
Some consider this the highest waterfall east of the Mississippi River. Whether or not that is true is debatable – it’s even debatable as to whether what you see in the picture is even one waterfall, considering the short run of rapids between the main drops. Nevertheless, it’s a very scenic and impressive waterfall, with a high water flow – the stream is more like a river than a creek at normal flow.
If you are coming from South Carolina’s scenic Highway 11, drive SC Hwy. 130 and drive about 10.4 miles north to the North Carolina border, where the road becomes NC Hwy. 281. The parking area is about 1/4 mile ahead on the right.
A fee is charged for parking and walking to the overlook – it was $3.00 per vehicle on my last visit. But you can use the same ticket to visit other National Forest sites in the area, such as Dry Falls, about 25 miles away on US Hwy. 64 west of Highlands.
The paved trail leads out of the back of the parking area, past informational signs and a few picnic tables. It’s about 1/4 mile long, kid-friendly, and wheelchair accessible up to the upper overlook. From there, a long set of stairs leads down to a lower overlook. The view is great from both.
From the lower overlook, a rough trail descends to a bridge over the river and a connection with the Foothills Trail.