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Lake Jocassee's Water-access Waterfalls

Map showing the distance from the boat ramp to the 3 main waterfalls.
Map showing the distance from the boat ramp to the 3 main waterfalls.
Dan Goodwin

Lake Jocassee is truly a wilderness lake. There are only two small sections where just 35 private residences touch the lake. 95% of the land is protected meaning there are no roads around the lake, only one boat ramp, and even minimal hiking trails. So getting to Jocassee’s waterfalls is relatively difficult…unless you’ve got a boat, kayak, or canoe.

Making it even harder is the fact that the waterfalls are all located on the upper lake of the lake while the only boat ramp is at Devil’s Fork State Park, on the lowest point on the lower section of the lake. This means your boat trip is going to be several miles, one way.

Having said all that, by water is truly the only way to see these waterfalls. Not due to the difficulty of getting there, but because these streams fall directly into the lake, there is no way to get a good view of the falls except from the water.

There are three major waterfalls along the shores of the lake and it is these three which attract the most visitors.

Laurel Fork Falls. About 7 miles one way, on the Toxaway River arm of the lake. The Foothills Trail does provide hiking access to Laurel Fork but it is 8.4 miles from the trail head on Horsepasture Road, making the visit almost impossible by foot in a single day. Plus, once you arrive, you realize you can only see the top two levels of the falls. The third level, the one that plunges into the lake can only be viewed from the lake.

Mill Creek Falls. Even further away, close to 8 miles one way, on the Horsepasture River arm. This is a very nice cascade featuring multiple segments coming down a tiered rock face.

Wright Creek Falls. Over on the Thompson River arm of the lake, this waterfall is about 4 miles from the boat ramp. It is a two-tiered waterfall that provides nice vistas from the water.

There are several other smaller waterfalls such as Gaddy Falls and Devil’s Hole Falls but these can be disappointing in dry weather. Also bear in mind that, when lake levels are low, the falls may not actually falling into the lake itself. For example, when the water is low, you can walk behind Wright Creek Falls while at full pond, a kayak can pass behind the falls.

For anyone without water transport, Jocassee Lake Tours provides tours of these waterfalls or rents equipment for those who want to explore on their own

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