Although many waterfall guides provide you with a “hub” as a central location from which to branch out to several nearby waterfalls, you will never find Horseshoe Falls in such guides. The reason is the fact that this is a most unusual site for a waterfall. Waterfalls are normally associated with the mountains, but it is more than 80 miles to the closest mountain waterfall at Jones Gap State Park. Or from any waterfall at all, it is still 50 miles to the waterfalls in downtown Greenville (Reedy Falls.)
Plus, it’s really not all that big, standing in at about 10 feet. But none of these facts stand in the way of this fall’s popularity. It is actually part of the Musgrove Mill State Historic Site off I-26 in Spartanburg County near Cross Anchor. The access to the falls has been developed to incorporate what has, for years, been a well-used locale for folks in the area.
To get there, take I-385 toward Columbia. Get off at exit 5 (Hwy 49) and turn left. Follow Hwy 49 for 8 miles until it intersects with I-26. Cross over the interstate and, in about a quarter mile, you’ll find Horseshoe Falls Road on your right. Turn right and continue for just under 4 miles. At that point, you’ll cross Cedar Shoals Creek on a green metal trestle bridge. Immediately on your left will be a large parking lot for the Musgrove Mill State Historic Site. Park here.
Across the road from the parking area is a well-marked trailhead for a wheelchair-accessible trail to Horseshoe Falls. More than a trail, it is really a 50-yard long sidewalk with a wheelchair parking deck at the end providing a great view of the falls.
Coming over the huge, flat rocks that mark this spot, the creek starts its drop with a short sluice that delivers the water onto a flat boulder that distributes the water then drops it down to secondary tiers before it splashes into the base pool . This is a decent sized pool contained within horseshoe-shaped rock walls. To the left of the cascade is a huge flat rock that is normally in the dry during normal water flow. Below the base pool and alongside the flat rock, the creek has built up copious amounts of sand, which make for a fine beach and a fun sand pile.
Look carefully in the sand and you should be able to find fresh water clam shells. And don’t be surprised if, on weekdays, you find a turtle or two sunning on the rock. On weekends and during the summer, don’t expect to have the falls to yourself.
Given the accessibility of Horseshoe Falls, you really should visit. It is an unexpected treasure found where waterfalls are unexpected.