Nearly every tributary of the Wild and Scenic Chattooga River has waterfalls of some sort. 40-foot Long Creek Falls is a particularly spectacular drop only 100 feet above the Chattooga River. Long Creek Falls is accessed by a lesser-known yet easy unofficial trail from Turkey Ridge Road (FS 755), about 1.7 miles long. The great swimming hole and large flat rocks around Long Creek Falls make it an excellent summertime destination. The Long Creek Falls Trail additionally passes a steep side path to a seldom-visited cascading waterfall on Pinckney Branch called Homer's Falls. Flowing only in wet weather, Homer's Falls flows 20 feet through an incredibly lush and mossy rock grotto before emptying into the Chattooga River. Hikers who go to Long Creek Falls even have the option of making a side trip to the top of Raven Rock Cliff, a 100-foot cliff that towers over the Chattooga River and features great gorge views. This hike occurred on Saturday, May 19th, 2018. My plan was to hike out and back to Long Creek Falls from the end of FS 755, making the side trip to Homer's Falls along the way.
R/T Length of Trail: 3.5 Miles
Duration of Hike: 1:30 plus 1 hour of stopping and photography
Type of Hike: Out and Back
Difficulty Rating: 4 out of 10
Total Elevation Gain: 927 Feet
Pros: Easy access to a lesser-known waterfall
Cons: Homer's Falls side trip is extremely steep and is only worthwhile after a good rain
Points of Interest: Long Creek Falls - 8 stars; Homer's Falls - 3 stars
Trail Blaze Colors: None, not an official trail
Best Seasons to Hike: Summer
Beginning Point: End of Turkey Ridge Road (FS 755)
Directions from Westminster, SC: From the intersection of US 76 and US 123 near downtown Westminster, follow US 76 West for 12.9 miles. Then, turn left on Damascus Church Road. Turn right in 0.9 miles to stay on Damascus Church Road. In another 1.9 miles, turn right onto Turkey Ridge Road (FS 755). Follow FS 755 for 2.9 miles to its terminus at a large turnaround. FS 755I - a road only for high clearance 4WD vehicles - leaves the right side of the turnaround. If your vehicle fits the criteria, you can drive a little closer to Long Creek Falls, but I recommend starting the Long Creek Falls hike here.
Click the link below to download a .GPX file with a track of this hike.
Long Creek Falls was the final hike of my day in South Carolina. As with the other waterfalls I visited on this day (Yellow Branch Falls and Lee Falls), Long Creek Falls is best-seen in periods of above average flow. However, while it didn't rain a lot during my earlier hikes, it looked like the Long Creek watershed received a deluge at the same time. Long Creek was completely swollen, and as a result, there was actually too much water at Long Creek Falls. The waterfall was hard to see and lost some of its scenic qualities. It was still a beautiful sight though, and the easy-to-moderate hike to Long Creek Falls is highly recommended for all.
The Long Creek Falls hike begins along FS 755I at the "Primitive Road" sign. At 0.15 miles, FS 755B - another jeep road - leaves left. Turning left onto FS 755B and continuing along the trail past the road's end will bring you to the top of Raven Rock Cliff in 0.4 miles. This 100-foot cliff has expansive views of the Chattooga River Gorge. I had every intention of including the Raven Rock Cliff view on this hike - however, I started the hike an hour later than originally planned, and I didn't have any extra time remaining after seeing Long Creek Falls and Homer's Falls. I had already seen Raven Rock Cliff from the base when I hiked the Raven Rock Trail on the Georgia side of the Chattooga River, so visiting the top of it wasn't an absolute necessity for me.
To see Long Creek Falls, stay on FS 755I. After more downhill, reach a turnaround at the end of the road at 0.6 miles. From here on, the Long Creek Falls Trail turns into a pleasant single-track path that bears right from the turnaround. The trail reaches a junction at 1.0 miles that may be marked by a rock arrow and cairn. The main trail to Long Creek Falls bears right, while the steep, obscure side path to Homer's Falls bears left. If you decide to include Homer's Falls on this hike, you should know that 1) the scramble path to Homer's Falls is much more difficult than anything along the Long Creek Falls Trail, and 2) Homer's Falls is worth seeing only in wet weather.
The 0.15-mile side path to Homer's Falls descends 200 feet very steeply, passing over several outcrops where you'll scramble down using both your hands as well as your feet. With the Chattooga River now in sight, reach Homer's Falls at 1.15 miles (ignore side paths heading down to the river). The cascading drop of Homer's Falls is only around 20 feet, but it's still quite neat if it's flowing. A breathtaking unique feature of Homer's Falls is all the delicate, lush moss growing in the permanently-moist area around the falls. In addition, note the impressive cliff towering above Homer's Falls.
Scramble back up the Long Creek Falls Trail at 1.3 miles. Keep following the pleasant single-track pathway as it contours along the slopes a couple hundred feet above the Chattooga River. At 1.5 miles, a side path on the left descends to the Chattooga - stay on the main trail. At 1.75 miles, the easy pathway along the old logging road comes to an end, as it's entirely overgrown straight ahead. The trail to Long Creek Falls turns left down a steep path, dropping down 150 feet to the Chattooga River. Reach the trail's terminus at the confluence of Long Creek and Chattooga River at 1.9 miles. Long Creek Falls is off to the right.
Long Creek Falls is a twin free-falling falls about 40 feet. Long Creek is close to the size of a small river on its own, so Long Creek Falls exhibits a lot of power - especially in high water, when both the left and right side of the sheer cliff are full of water. Lush green plants grow on the cliff and behind the waterfall. Normally, you can just wade up Long Creek from the confluence to the falls, and you can sunbathe on the large, flat rocks around the base of Long Creek Falls. Long Creek Falls can be seen from the Chattooga River, but it's obviously best-seen up close. On this day, however, the water was so incredibly high that wading was out of the question. I had to make a tough scramble to a tiny rock outcrop closer to the falls to photograph it, and even there, the view wasn't optimal. I look forward to revisiting Long Creek Falls in lower water. I also plan to visit Middle Long Creek Falls and Upper Long Creek Falls in the future. Both are impressive waterfalls, although they're not accessed from the same trail as Long Creek Falls.
The Long Creek/Chattooga River confluence is a gorgeous spot on its own. There's something peaceful about watching the waters of a major river rush by you. On this day, the river was quite swollen and powerful, which actually added to the beauty of the setting. From Long Creek Falls, simply retrace your steps along the trail to the FS 755 parking area. You'll return to your car at 3.5 miles, concluding the hike.
0.0 - FS 755
0.15 - FS 755B
0.6 - End of FS 755I
1.0 - Homer's Falls Side Trail
1.15 - Homer's Falls
1.9 - Long Creek Falls
3.5 - FS 755
Hike out and back to just Long Creek Falls - 3.2 Miles
Turkey Ridge Road (FS 755) features another waterfall trailhead: the Opposum Creek Falls Trail. About 5 miles roundtrip, the Opposum Creek Falls hike features a spectacular pair of waterfalls that could easily be seen the same day as Long Creek Falls.
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Mark Oleg Ozboyd
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