Wednesday, March 18, 2015

2015-03-14 Pinnacle Falls on Abner Creek

Pinnacle Falls on Abner Creek
Near the Rocky Bottom Community
Pickens County, SC
Saturday, March 14th, 2015

Pinnacle Falls

Our original plan for the day was to finally get to the base of Windy Falls on the Horsepasture River.  Unfortunately, just like our previous 4 or 5 attempts at Windy Falls, the rain had thwarted our plans.  Windy Falls is definitely not a place you want to be if the rocks are wet!

So we came up with a Plan B!  Pinnacle Falls!

My buddy Waterfall Rich first told me about Pinnacle Falls back in 2006.  Unfortunately sometime between the time that Rich visited the falls and the time when I made my attempt, the access from US178 near the Rocky Bottom Community became heavily posted with dozens of No Trespassing Signs.

The easiest access to Pinnacle Falls is through the property of Camp Hannon which is still heavily posted.  It would be impossible to go this way without blatant trespassing.

However some Team Waterfall research has revealed that Pinnacle Falls is actually located on public land.  Our goal would be to access the elusive Pinnacle Falls without trespassing.  It looked easy enough on the map!

Despite the rainy morning, we had a large group of passionate waterfall wanderers along for this adventure.  Including (2) dogs, we decided to call today's team "The Dirty Dozen"  (Andy, Boone, Kona, Darrin, Mitch, Spencer, Stephanie, Dillon, Thomas, Kitty, Brenda, and Me).

Team Waterfall Gearing Up for the Hike

We decided to start at Chimneytop Gap, along the F Van Clayton Memorial Hwy (the road to Sassafras Mountain).  From there, the Pickens County GIS map shows that "Unnamed Road" stays entirely on public property (SCDNR and Duke Energy land). 

 Hiking up Unnamed Road

This would be a roundabout way of getting to where we wanted to be, but it would make for a fairly easy start to our day and would allow us to get close to Pinnacle Falls on Abner Creek without any trespassing.

At about a half mile, the road crosses Abner Creek (well upstream from the falls).  Most of us were able to get across and keep our feet dry, but some just decided to slosh on through!

 Mitch Crossing Abner Creek

We briefly discussed just bushwhacking downstream from here, but decided to stick with our original plan of Unnamed Road

Soon after, the road crosses Dogwood Creek, a smaller tributary to Abner Creek.  The crossing is narrow enough that you can jump across with one stride.  

Just past Dogwood Creek, Unnamed Road continues straight ahead to the North, while another road heads to the left (West).  We would later find out that turning left here would have been the quickest way to Pinnacle, but since we did not know that at the time, we stuck to our original plan and continued on Unnamed Road.

 Hiking up Unnamed Road

At about 1.5 miles in, we decided it was time to leave Unnamed Road and start the bushwhacking portion of our adventure.  At this point we could hear Abner Creek, so it was just a matter of choosing the path of least resistance.  It was a pretty easy bushwhack compared to some of the others we have done recently.

We arrived at Abner Creek a short distance downstream from the falls.  After a short, but very steep scramble up the bank we were able to pick up the trail that comes up from Camp Hannon.

 Thomas and Kitty Bushwhacking up the bank of Abner Creek

 From here it was a very easy hike to the base of Lower Pinnacle Falls.

 Lower Pinnacle Falls

Lower Pinnacle Falls is nice, but definitely not the main attraction.  The trail continues up the right side of the creek to a nice overlook of Pinnacle Falls!

 Pinnacle Falls from the Overlook

Cables and Ropes lead the way down from the overlook to the base of the falls.  This one far exceeded my expectations!

 Pinnacle Falls

Me at Pinnacle Falls

From the base, the trail continues up the left side of the waterfall taking you some interesting vantage points and access to the top of the waterfall.

 Spencer Swinging from a rope across the top of Pinnacle Falls

We spent at least an hour here hanging out and enjoying this awesome waterfall!

Most of the Group hanging out at Pinnacle Falls

The trail up the left side continues on past the top of the waterfall, so rather than go back the way we came, we decided to see where this trail would take us.

 the trail up the left side of Pinnacle Falls
R to L:  Andy, Boone, Dillon, Brenda, Mitch

Eventually the trail turns into the other road we saw earlier in the day near where Unnamed Road crosses Dogwood Creek.

 Back on Unnamed road where it crosses Dogwood Creek

According to Brenda's GPS, our hike was about 4.5 miles.  However, if we were to turn left past the Dogwood Creek Crossing, it would have been about 1.5 miles each way for a 3.0 mile out and back hike.  This would be the shortest and easiest way to visit Pinnacle Falls without trespassing across Camp Hannon Property.

 Brenda's GPS Track

There was still a good bit of fog out when we finished up the hike and we were just a short drive to the summit of Sassafras Mountain, the highest peak in the state of South Carolina.   Hopefully we could break through the fog and get one of those amazing above the clouds mountaintop experiences on top of Sassafras!

The fog just got thicker and thicker the higher up we got, but we never broke free.   Even without a view, it was still a cool place to be.

 Mitch and Brenda in a fog

Stephanie in the fog

Hiker Trash heading up the trail to the Sassafras Mountain Overlook

There is a place along US178 in the Sunset, SC community that I have driven past many times, but have never stopped.  That would change today!  The Team Waterfall Group made the unanimous decision to stop at Bob's Place for a beer or two.

 Team Waterfall at Bob's Place
L to R: Thomas, Kitty, Andy, Jack, Mitch, Brenda, Dillon, Spencer, Stephanie, Darrin


 Mitch and Darrin at the Bar at Bob's Place

 Mitch and Brenda at Bob's Place

 Kitty, Thomas, and Brenda t Bob's Place

Dillon, Mitch, Andy, Stephanie at Bob's Place

Note: these last few photos from inside Bob's Place were taken with a cell phone under very low light conditions. I apologize for the poor quality, but still felt the experience deserved to be posted.

This was definitely a unique and enjoyable way to end our adventure!

The complete set of photos is posted here:

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