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Chestnut Ridge Falls

Chestnut Ridge Falls
Dan Goodwin

Chestnut Ridge Heritage Preserve is known for wildflowers and not waterfalls; however, this doesn’t mean there are not waterfalls worth visiting in the Preserve.

This particular waterfall is supposedly unnamed but, given the fact it is coming off the side of Chestnut Ridge, Chestnut Ridge Falls is appropriate. It is located about 100 yards past the end of the Chestnut Ridge Trail.

To get to the trail head, start at the intersection of SC 11 and SC 14 in Gowansville, SC. Take SC 11 west for 4.5 miles to Oak Grove Road. Right on Oak Grove for 1.0 miles to a blue sign indicating a parking area on the left. The trailhead is at the kiosk at the end of the parking lot.

Follow the Chestnut Ridge Trail 2.75 miles to where it ends on an old roadbed. There is a Preserve identification sign at that point. Turn left and go about 100 yards to where a feeder stream passes under the road. You would be able to see the waterfall high up less than 100 yards into the woods. There is a faint path but this is basically a bushwhack.

Care should be taken here to avoid trillium and other wildflowers that populate this area.

Chestnut Ridge Falls is a good 70 feet high, coming down in a split flow with both sides of the flow equal in size. Almost vertical, the rock face provides two sections. First, the top of half is tiered giving good sounds and white water. Then a very short plunge takes the water onto more of a waterslide and delivers the flow onto a group of boulders at the bottom.

Moving up the stream to the right, you can get right in front of the falls but you are so close, a full picture of the rock face is not possible. The best photographs come from the left side, which is accessed by crossing the creek a little downstream and working your way up into position.

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