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Mashbox Falls

While only about 1000 feet from a major highway, Mashbox Falls is seldom visited. Research will find only a few mentions of the falls along with vague directions as to the approach. Use of a good topographic map will eliminate some of the mystery in regard to the location and approach to the falls while, at the same time, highlighting the difficulty of the terrain.

Mashbox Falls. Taken from the side.
Dan Goodwin

From the Cleveland, SC post office, continue up US 276/SC11 until US 276 splits off toward Caesar’s Head. From that intersection, follow the road for 5.0 miles. There, in a sharp horseshoe curve, a gravel road comes in from the right. It even has a stop sign. Pull into this road and park along the side, or further down you’ll find a barricade with a kiosk for hunters. There is room to park and turn around there.

Walk back up to 276 and turn right to walk up the road. Extreme caution should be used, you are on the road between two blind curves. Traffic coming in either direction will not be able to see you. A guardrail starts just before the next curve. Walk on the inside the guardrail for about 3/4ths of its length. Stop and survey the topography.

You will be looking down about 200 feet to Oil Camp Creek some 500 linear feet away. To your left will be a tributary stream that is coming down from Drip Rock Falls. A small ridge separates this tributary from Oil Camp Creek. Descend toward where the two streams join.

As noted, the slope is very steep, requiring switchbacks to safely make the descent. Leaf cover makes footholds slippery and, if it has rained recently, it will be even slicker. If you are making this attempt in the winter, about half way down, you will be able to see past the nose of the little ridge and view the waterfall.

Once at the bottom, hike upstream on Oil Camp Creek. You may encounter the remains of a still, some buried barrels and a mash box from which the falls gets its name. Cross the tributary and stay on the left side of Oil Camp Creek until you are close to the waterfall then move to the right. A tree stands in front of the falls, so to get a good photo, you will need to get close in or move up and to the right along the rock face. Both approaches are treacherous, steep and guaranteed to be slippery with leaves and mud.

Standing in at about 50 feet, Mashbox Falls sends Oil Camp Creek over the top tier and splits it almost into 2 sluices for about half the distance down the falls. The flow then encounters a huge tier right in the middle, which redirects the water over and down to the remaining tiers. There is no base pool.

Return the way you can and be prepared for a tough climb.

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