Miuka Falls and Crane Creek Falls
Winding Stairs Trail (plus some bushwhacking)
Oconee County, SC
Sunday, August 5th, 2012
I have been to both Miuka Falls and Secret Falls before and I was not very impressed with either of them. However, a while back Waterfall Rich posted on his site about some waterfalls on Crane Creek located upstream from Secret Falls.
Since seeing this post, I have wanted to get back and find the waterfall that Rich called "Crane Creek Falls". Andy and I decided that this would be the Sunday Morning adventure of our camping weekend.
The Winding Stairs trail starts from the Cherry Hill Campground which is where we were staying. It sure was nice not to have to drive anywhere to go hiking!
The well designed Winding Stairs trail is a series on long switchbacks which descend down the mountainside. A little over a mile into the hike we arrived at Miuka Falls which turned out to be much nicer than I remembered.
It helped that we had perfect photo conditions. The lighting was perfect and it had rained most of the night adding a good amount of waterflow to this fairly low volume stream. Also, on my previous visit I was alone, so I didn't attempt the tricky crossing to get to the only good vantage point.
From there we continued down the winding stairs trail for about another mile. We left the trail when we could start hearing the sounds of Crane Creek. A fairly obvious side path and a series of ribbons tied to trees led the way down the steep bank to the creek.
We arrived at an unimpressive cascade that wasn't even worth taking a photo of before continuing up the Creek to Secret Falls.
Unfortunately a huge tree has fallen completely blocking any view of Secret Falls. I wasn't impressed on my first visit and now it is even less impressive. I don't figure this deadfall will be going anywhere anytime soon!
I made a feeble attempt to find a spot to photograph Secret Falls, but ended up falling on my butt at which point I gave up and decided to continue upstream to find the waterfall we came for.
The bushwhacking was tough, but not as bad as what we went through the previous day. It took us about 20 minutes to make it to Crane Creek Falls and it was well worth the effort!
Crane Creek Falls
Unfortunately I made a critical photography mistake. I decided to switch over to my wide angle lens which was stored inside my pack. Also inside my pack were some chilled water bottles which made the lens colder than the outside air.
The humidity had to be close to 100%, so when the cool lens hit the humid air it completely fogged up. Even though I was eventually able to clear the fog on the outside glass, there was still a layer fog on the inside glass which left a hazy film in all of my photos.
Crane Creek Falls
I am a bit disappointed because we had otherwise perfect photo conditions when we first arrived at the waterfall! By the time my lens got acclimated to the temperature difference, the sun had made a permanent appearance for the day. At least it gives me an excuse to get back here for another attempt.
I also know there are additional waterfalls further upstream, but we had only planned a half day adventure for the morning and decided to save further exploration for another day. Plus since Andy has now officially joined me in the over 40 club, we just don't have the energy anymore to do extreme bushwhacks two days in a row!
It was a great weekend!
Additional photos are posted here: