First, a little background.
My group of waterfall hikers, the Grandfather Mountaineers, have worked through most of the falls in King’s book but initially did not attempt Lohr’s because of the lack of a trail and complicated directions; however, in February of 2013, we decided to try to locate the waterfall. I had determined where I thought the trailhead had to be along Yellow Branch Trail. We found the spot turned out to be a very overgrown roadbed, which we had missed on several trips to Yellow Branch Falls. There was a faint path that quickly disappeared since few people visit Lohr’s. We did finally locate the waterfall, mostly by accident. Now that we’ve been there and are familiar with the topography, King’s directions turned out to be accurate.
In March 2014, my wife and I were using Clemson baseball tickets that belonged to a friend (Roy) of ours. After finding our seats, I explained to the couple sitting next to us who we were and how we came to have Roy's seats. During the conversation I told the gentleman what our connection with Roy was and that we would sometimes take Roy and his wife, Mary Carol, hiking to waterfalls.
He said he did some waterfall hiking himself with a neighbor in Keowee Key who had written a book about waterfalls. Fellow’s name was Norm Arnold. The gentleman proceeds to tell me a story about how he and his wife were visiting Yellow Branch Falls one time, had gotten lost on the way back and found a waterfall.
I said “Lohr’s Falls? Is your name Lohr?” We were sitting beside Stuart and Kathy Lohr, the discoverers and namesakes of Lohr’s Falls. During the ballgame and through emails over the next couple of days, Stu shared his story with me about that fateful day.
I knew I wanted to write about this event but the path that Stu and Kathy took wasn’t clear to me, given what I knew about existing trails and topography of the area. Stu said they were coming back from Yellow Branch Falls and mistakenly followed a stream coming in from the left. The only place I could see where they could make such a mistake was at the obscure trailhead my group had used back in 2013. But there was no stream junction there plus they would then been following Yellow Branch downstream, not upstream. Even the directions to Yellow Branch Falls in Norm Arnold’s book, did not click, although they matched Stu’s description of the trek.
It wasn’t until I happened upon an internet reference to Lohr’s Falls. Two avenues of approach were referenced. One would be to climb up Yellow Branch Falls and the other was to try and follow the “old” trail. All became clear. When Stu and Kathy were on the trail to Yellow Branch Falls, the trail took a different route than it does now. The old trail pretty much just followed Yellow Branch all the way to the falls. The trail crossed Yellow Branch right where the stream from Lohr’s Falls joins the branch.
Now, with all that information in place, here is the story of the discovery of Lohr’s Falls.
It was a Sunday, December 18, 1994, when Stu and Kathy Lohr, along with their springer spaniel, Misty, took the old Yellow Branch Trail down to visit Yellow Branch Falls (see the map included in the slide show). On their return, they followed the trail back to where a feeder stream joins Yellow Branch. The trail crosses the branch at that point. In making the crossing, they got confused with the two streams and began following the left stream instead of the right (Yellow Branch). By the time it was clear they were probably following the wrong stream, it was late in the day plus, they were not sure where they went wrong, so their best bet was to continue on. It wasn’t long before they found the waterfall that would bear their name. As exciting as that was, it would have been more exciting to know the way out since it continued to get colder as it got closer to the end of the day.
Stu was familiar enough with the terrain to know there were roads that boxed in the area so he continued to follow the stream, knowing he would eventually find a road. He said he remembers “the elation of seeing a trash-littered bank, which gave us confidence that we wouldn’t have to spend the night in the woods.” That trash-littered bank was the road he was looking for. Given the topo of the stream, this was probably Cassidy Ridge Road. Stu, Kathy, and Misty began to walk the road when a South Carolina State Trooper came by. Stu asked him how to get back to the Yellow Branch parking lot. Turned out to be about a 2 mile walk. Oddly enough, the trooper didn’t offer them a ride.
Stu told Norm Arnold, who named the falls and put it in his book, which was cited by Tom King for his book.
Waterfall Hikes of Upstate South Carolina, Thomas E. King
Waterfalls Near Our Home In Keowee Key, SC, Norm Arnold