About two hours and 30 minutes from Columbia, this little gem of a town has so much to offer and is surrounded by beautiful waterfalls and local history. During the months of October and November, fall foliage is the star attraction, and these places will have you falling for them:
Stumphouse Tunnel Park: Located about 7 miles northwest of Walhalla on Hwy 28 (on right), the 1,617 foot long Stumphouse Tunnel was started in 1852 to connect Charleston to Knoxville, but the Civil War – and lack of funds – brought the tunnels construction to a halt. Easy access. To access the tunnel, follow the paved road into the park and bear left until it ends at a paved parking area. The tunnel is a short distance up a gravel drive beyond. Explore for free, open 10am – 5pm.
Issaqueena Falls: This beautiful 200 foot cascade has an amazing legend attached to it. Indian maiden Issaqueena has a story to share once you park and walk over the small bridge. Located in the same park as the Stumphouse Tunnel, the gravel parking lot for Issaqueena Falls is on your right before you reach the Stumphouse tunnel. Once you’ve parked follow the creek from the parking area to the falls and the overlook. Less than .2 mile walk to an observation deck on the left or choose to continue down the trail to the very bottom to play in the falls! In the parking lot for the falls there are picnic facilities, so pack a lunch and enjoy! Open 10am – 5pm.
Oconee Station Historic Site: Take a short hike to 2 frontier houses that are very well preserved. On Saturdays and Sundays from 1-5pm enjoy a free tour of these homes. Station Cove Falls is also on site and is an easy 30-minute, .5 mile hike on a clearly marked trail that leads to a lovely stepped 60-foot waterfall. Trailhead is just past historic site. Historic site open 9am – 6pm everyday.
500 Oconee Station Rd. | 864.638.0079
Walhalla Lunch: Palmetto Sweets and Company: Enjoy pimento cheese sandwiches, BLT’s, chicken salad sandwiches, reubens and more at this gem of a lunch spot. Always have a daily special and on Sundays they offer a buffet/cafeteria style lunch. Open Tuesday – Friday: 8am – 4pm, Saturday: 8am – 3pm, Sunday: 11am – 2pm. 115 E Main St. | 864.638.7707
Walhalla Dinner: Hot Hog Diggity Dog All day BBQ buffet and salad bar, but for dinner enjoy it for $12.99. Feast upon pork, chicken, brisket, ribs, ham, fried chicken, catfish and more! Or get a combo meal for just $7. They also offer 6 different types of footlong subs and have delicious salads. 300 E Main St. | 864-916-4185
Information on MORE amazing waterfalls:
Yellow Branch Falls
From Walhalla, take SC 28 north for six miles. If you pass the Stumphouse Mountain Ranger Station on your right, you have gone too far. The entrance to the Yellow Branch Picnic Area is on the left before the ranger station (before the Stumphouse Tunnel & Issaqueena Falls park!). After you turn off SC 28 to head to these gorgeous falls, stay straight and do not turn right on the road going uphill. Follow the road until it dead-ends in a circular parking lot. The trail starts on the side opposite the portajohn. This moderately difficult out-and-back trail leads you to the base of a spectacular 50-foot vertical cascade. Starting from the parking area, you will hike approximately .25 miles on the Yellow Branch Nature Trail and then the falls trail veers downhill to the right, while the nature trail begins to loop back to the left (north) toward the picnic area entry gate. So, if you don’t wish to hike for an hour there and an hour back, then you could still walk along the nature trail and look for wildlife. This park also features a nice picnic area, so pack a lunch. And if you choose to do the full hike – get excited for a few creek crossings! (shown on right).
(Lower) Whitewater Falls
Whitewater Falls consist of an upper and lower section and is the highest series of falls in eastern North America. It is one of the most visited and photographed falls in the Blue Ridge Mountains! The Lower Falls is located 0.5 mile down the Whitewater River from the Upper Falls (which is in North Carolina). The beautiful Lower Whitewater Falls are located in SC. From the parking area, a moderate hike of about one hour, two-mile hike will get you to an overlook where you’ll find an unparalleled view of Lower Whitewater Falls. The Lower Whitewater Falls comprises a dramatic 200-foot drop and the trail will take you to a spectacular overlook. Bring plenty of water on this adventure!
From Walhalla, drive north on SC 11 (Cherokee Foothills Scenic Highway) for 14 miles and turn left onto SC 130. Drive north on SC 130 for 10.5 miles and turn right (east) at the entrance to Duke Power’s Bad Creek Hydroelectric Station. Pass through the automatic gate. (Entrance onto the property is allowed only during daylight hours. Exiting the property through this gate is allowed at all hours.) Drive approximately 2 miles to the parking area for the Foothills Trail/Whitewater River. (This is a lighted parking lot with a public telephone and portable toilets.) From the trailhead at the far end of the parking area, walk. Follow the blue blazes of the Lower Whitewater Falls overlook spur. At 0.6 mile the spur will cross over the Whitewater River. Turn right (northeast). At this point the spur is concurrent with the Jocassee Gorges Segment of the Foothills Trail bound for Laurel Valley. (The Foothills Trail is marked with white blazes.) When the trail intersects a gravel road, follow the gravel road briefly (about 200 yards) and then resume your hike on the trail. A blue blaze and an arrow sign on the right point the way. Continue to the overlook.