Tuesday, April 7, 2015

2015-04-04 Matthews Creek Adventure

Matthews Creek Adventure
Mountain Bridge Wilderness Area
Greenville County, SC
Saturday, April 4th, 2015

The Bush That Ate My Glasses!

Matthews Creek is most well know for the spectacular Raven Cliff Falls.  However, just downstream from the main attraction is a long series of nearly continuous waterfalls, slides, and cascades.  Very few people have ever seen these as they are all off-trail and require some intense bushwhacking, creek walking, and boulder climbing to get to.

Our plan was to see as much of Matthews Creek as possible!

Darrin and I started our hike at the Asbury Hills Camp along US276 just north of Cleveland, SC.  When camp is not in session, they welcome the public to come visit and hike their trails.  However, you do need to call ahead to get permission.

From the Asbury Hills Website:
Hikers - Trails are open to the public mid August to the end of May.  Hikers must call ahead during the week to get a gate code for the weekend at 864.836.3711.

There is a small lake at the camp which offers some nice photo opportunities.  However, today the lake was drained.  Still a really nice view, and a bit different than normal.

view from Asbury Hills  (much nicer when there is actually water in the lake)

We started the hike on the Asbury Trail. This wide-track path is an easy and pleasant walk through the woods.  There were loads of wildflowers and dogwoods blooming.

 Dogwood Blooms

 Fiddle Heads

Rue Anemone

 Dwarf Iris

At about the 2 mile point, the Asbury Trail crosses Matthews Creek on a unique dual cable bridge

 Darrin crossing Matthews Creek on the Dual Cable Bridge

Continuing on the Asbury trail would take you on over to the Moonshine and Confusion Falls area.  A highly recommended hike!  But today we would be going in a different direction!  Upstream along Matthews Creek.

 We hopped on the Naturaland Trust Trail and took that to the north-west alongside Matthews Creek.  The creek is pretty flat here, so I don't believe we missed anything significant along this stretch by sticking to the trail.

We reached the point where a brand new bridge on the Naturaland Trust Trail crosses Matthews Creek.

Darrin on the new Naturaland Trust Trail Bridge Across Matthews Creek

Here is where the fun begins!  From this bridge to the base of Raven Cliff Falls is a long series of waterfalls, slides, and cascades.  Sticking to the trail will cause you to miss them all!   If you are interested in checking them out, your options are as follows:

1.  Continue on the Naturaland Trust Trail and bushwhack down to the creek whenever you see or hear anything interesting through the trees
2.  Bushwhack up alongside the creek
3.  Creek Walk and Boulder Climb up the creek.

I am not going to go into any details other than to say that the route we took encompassed all three of these options.  Here is what we saw along the way.

Matthews Creek

 Nice Slide along Matthews Creek

Darrin was checking it out to see if it was safe to slide down.
He ended up slipping and going 100% underwater

This was my favorite of all the waterfalls we saw along Matthews Creek

Darrin behind an impressive waterfall on Matthews Creek

Awesome waterfall on Matthews Creek

 Me by an awesome waterfall on Matthews Creek

Awesome Waterfall on Matthews Creek
Darrin is up top to give a sense of scale

 Darrin and me along Matthews Creek

 Not the most scenic cascade, but it does have an awesome swimming hole!


 Darrin heading upstream alongside Matthews Creek

 Darrin heading upstream alongside Matthews Creek

 Me by a nice cascade on Matthews Creek

 Nice long sliding waterfall on Matthews Creek

 Darrin is about 2/3 the way up to give a sense of scale

 Matthews Creek

Darrin Crossing Matthews Creek

Just upstream from here is the base of Raven Cliff Falls  I regret not continuing on just a little further to catch another glimpse of that beauty.  The GPS Track of our hike shows how close we got to the base of Raven Cliff Falls.

GPS Track of our hike (click to enlarge)

Creek walking and boulder climbing is generally easier and safer when heading in the upstream direction.  So rather than heading back by creek walking downstream, Darrin suggested that we bushwhack up the steep bank to the Naturaland Trust Trail.

This was one hell of a bushwhack and definitely not a route I would ever want to take again.  At one point one of the bushes we were whacking through sought revenge and ripped my hat off my head and my glasses off my face.  I was able to recover the hat, but the bush quickly ate my glasses.

The good news is that this pair of glasses were purchased during my last eye exam which was over 7 years ago.  I am long overdue for another eye exam, a new pair of glasses, and most likely a new prescription.

Another saving grace to this brutal bushwhack is that we emerged form the brush to an incredible view of the Cathedral!  From here we knew the trail was just at the base of this awesome rock wall!

 The Cathedral

Once on the trail the return hike was almost all downhill making for an easy, but much blurrier end to an awesome adventure!   

The Complete Set of Photos is Posted Here:


Anonymous said...

Your fifth picture is not hepatica. It is a rue anemone.
Excellent blog.

Brenda W. said...

What a neat trek, Jack!! Gorgeous section of river.