Sunday, May 20, 2012

Bee Cove Falls Hike with Brenda

Bee Cove Falls Hike with Brenda
Oconee County, SC
Saturday, May 19th, 2012

 New waterfall that Brenda and I discovered!

According to "The Waterfalls of South Carolina" guidebook by Benjamin Brooks and Tim Cook, there are (4) significant drops along Bee Cove Creek.  I had visited once before about 7 years ago, but I know I didn't make it to all (4) drops.  I was on a solo hike at the time and this is not really the place to be exploring alone.

So when Brenda suggested Bee Cove Falls for our hike destination, I jumped at the chance for a revisit.  Brenda is always up for a bushwhack and difficult scramble type hike, so I knew that together we would be able to make it all (4) waterfalls along Bee Cove Creek.

I met Brenda at the Holly Springs Gas Station along Hwy 11 and US178 and rode with her to the trailhead along Hwy107.  Actually, it is not really a trailhead, but a forest service road.  The hike starts along FS road 702 (not to be confused with FS702A which is a few hundred yards south).  There is a sign for FS702, but it is covered by brush and would be almost impossible to see from a moving vehicle.  Basically it is about 1.6 miles south of Wigington Road.

The hike starts out as an easy stroll down the wide track forest service road, gradually descending for about 1.5 miles.  Most of the Mountain Laurel was a little bit past peak, but there were some that were still in their prime.

 Mountain Laurel

Just past where the forest service road crosses over Bee Cove Creek, we turned right on another forest service road and continued downstream.  After about another half mile we turned right at a 3-way intersection heading in the general direction of Bee Cove Creek.

After a short distance, this road makes a sharp left turn.  Just before the left turn a faint trail heads off into the woods towards Bee Cove Creek.  Not long after that, we turned left on another faint trail that steeply descended down towards the creek.

We actually turned a bit too soon and ended up further downstream than originally planned.  So instead of starting from the upper drop, we ended up arriving at one of the lower drops of Bee Cove Creek.

 Lower Drop on Bee Cove Creek

We continued downstream and found one more nice little cascade.

 Cascade on Bee Cove Creek

We were pretty sure the rest of the drops were upstream, but we decided to first continue to explore downstream just to make sure we didn't miss anything!

The vegetation was very thick close to the creek, so we were bushwhacking a bit higher up the bank looking for an easy way to make our way back down to the creek when we stumbled upon another good size tributary stream.

Brenda and I were both very surprised as neither one of us was expecting to come across another creek.  I almost always have a topo map of the area with me when I go hiking, but for some reason I forgot to bring one along and therefore had no idea what creek this was.

We decided to try and follow it downstream to where it would eventually merge with Bee Cove Creek.  Soon after we arrived at the top of what looked like a pretty good drop.  Could we have accidentally discovered an un-documented waterfall?

 I think we did!  After hike research has determined that we arrived at Wilson Creek, but I found no mention anywhere of any waterfalls along this creek.

It was a difficult scramble, but we make our way down to the base of what turned out to be a very photogenic little waterfall! 

 Brenda at the new waterfall we discovered on Wilson Creek

From there we continued downstream along Wilson creek for a few hundred yards until we ran back into Bee Cove Creek which we followed back upstream to visit the rest of the waterfalls along Bee Cove Creek.

In my opinion, the next waterfall we came to was the prettiest of the waterfalls on Bee Cove Creek.  By now the sun was out in full force which is not ideal for waterfall photography, but I still liked the way this next shot turned out.
 Waterfall on Bee Cove Creek

Continuing on upstream, we came across another nice little cascade.  This one I didn't like the way any of my photos turned out, but here is one of the shots anyway!

 Cascade on Bee Cove Creek

The next waterfall upstream would be a really nice one, except for the fact that the base is littered with deadfall. 
 Waterfall on Bee Cove Creek
The Upper waterfall on Bee Cove Creek is the tallest of all the drops, but in my opinion is the least scenic of the bunch.  And again the base is covered in deadfall.

 Upper Waterfall on Bee Cove Creek

The return hike back the Brenda's vehicle was all uphill (about 1,000 of elevation gain), but uneventful.

 Elevation Profile

It was a very enjoyable hike.  The highlight of course was our discovery of a new waterfall that very few people have been to.  Even the main waterfalls on Bee Cove Creek are not highly visited, and most who visit them are not likely to explore any further.  We didn't come across another person during our entire hike.

According to Brenda's GPS we hike about 6.5 miles, which is not that much by our standards.  However, much of it was very difficult off trail bushwhacking and scrambling across some rough terrain.

 GPS Track

It was still early enough in the day to squeeze another short hike in, but we both felt that we had enough!  
The complete set of photos is posted here:

1 comment:

HemlockMan said...

Wow. Congratulations on the discovery of a new waterfall! It's a real beauty, too!

Looks like you had one heck of a scramble down into the lowlands and a tough hike back out. It's surprising how high you guys were! 2800 feet isn't much lower than the higher peaks in SC!