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
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.
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 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.
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.
It was still early enough in the day to squeeze another short hike in, but we both felt that we had enough!
Andy and I got a tip from Brenda and Darrin, a couple of
friends from the Carolinas Adventures group, about the location of some Pitcher
Plants. This is a relatively rare
wildflower that I have never seen before.
So for the days hike, our main goal would be to find and photograph this
rare flower which would hopefully still be in bloom.
According to Darrin and Brenda, the Pitcher Plants on the
Pinnacle Pass Trail in the Mountain Bridge Wilderness of SC, a little over 5
miles in from the Jones Gap Trailhead.
Andy, his two dogs (Boone and Kona), and I hit the trail
shortly after the 9:00am park opening time.
The trail starts with a few minor up and downs before beginning the
serious climb up the mountain.
The trail climbs about 1,200 feet in elevation over about
the next two miles. At the lower
elevations, the Mountain Laurel was a bit past peak, but as we gained elevation
we hit one of the most spectacular displays of mountain laurel that I have ever
Boone hiking through the Mountain Laurel
Shortly before the end of the climb, the trail descends
slightly to a nice viewpoint of the valley down below.
View from the Pinnacle Pass Trail
We stopped for a short break here before continuing on.
Kona taking a break
Soon the trail levels out making for some very pleasant
hiking and a welcome relief after the tough climb. Much of this section of trail follows along
old roadbeds making for some of the easiest hiking in the Mountain Bridge
About a half mile past the intersection with the John Sloan
Trail, the Pinnacle Pass Trail leaves the old roadbed and descends steeply on a
more traditional trail. Soon a small
creek can be heard off to the right.
The trail crosses over the creek and takes you onto an open
rock face. I had hiked this section of
trail once before and for some reason I don't remember the impressive views!
View from the open rock face along the Pinnacle Pass Trail
I also didn't know at the time that this the best area where
to find some rare wildflowers including the Pitcher Plants. We were told to just explore a short distance
up or downstream and we should find them.
I started out upstream, but apparently I picked the wrong
side of the creek, because I didn't find any rare plants. I did find an unexpected waterfall! Nothing overly spectacular or photogenic, but
sill a nice surprise.
Waterfall a short distance upstream from the trail
Andy had much better luck finding the Pitcher Plants
downstream. We I met back up with him,
he stated that he had found a goldmine!
A couple of other hikers overheard and thought that Andy had found an
actual goldmine! They eventually
scurried on their way after Andy clarified what he had meant.
As stated earlier, I had never seen Pitcher Plants before
and they are a very unique looking plant and flower.
Pitcher Plant Bloom
Also growing in the same area as the Pitcher Plants was
another interesting looking wildflower.
Andy and I guessed it to be some type of Orchid! Our buddy KT identified it as Calopogon, a
fairly uncommon type of Orchid.
The third relatively uncommon wildflower that Andy spotted
was Indian Paintbrush, another one that I had never seen.
For the hike back, we backtracked a bit on the Pinnacle Pass
before forming a loop with the John Sloan Trail and the Eastern Half of the Rim
of the Gap Trail.
The Western Half of the Rim of the Gap is one of my
favorites, but the part we hiked was very uneventful. It is a grueling climb going in the opposite
direction, but for us it was all downhill back to the trailhead.
Overall, it was an excellent hike! With the rare wildflowers and the spectacular
mountain laurel displays being the highlights!
The weather was just about perfect as well!