Hike to Lower and Upper Whitewater Falls via Foothills Trail

Foothills Trailhead, Bad Creek

Hike a section of the 76-mile Foothills Trail to the tallest waterfall in the eastern US.

The Foothills Trail runs a total of 76 miles across the Blue Ridge Escarpment. Highlights of the route include Sassafras Mountain (3,500 ft), the Chattooga River, and Whitewater Falls, the tallest waterfall in the eastern US. The trail is well maintained, and not often crowded. Sightings of black bears, bald eagles, deer, and turkey can be had along the trail; there are also wildflowers. You can use the trail for day hikes or a full backpacking trip.

The Whitewater Falls section is difficult but rewarding. From the Bad Creek Hydroelectric Plant parking area, take the Bad Creek Access trail (blue blazes), keeping left at the trail junction. Follow along the Whitewater River, and after crossing the river the access trail will run into Foothills Trail.

To reach the upper falls first, turn left on Foothills. After a series of ups and downs, you will cross over Corbin Creek – look for Corbin Creek Falls, nearby. You will cross again over Whitewater River before making a steep ascent up to the junction with Upper Whitewater Falls Trail, around 6.3 miles in. Turn right to reach the observation area.

After spending some time by the lower falls, head back to the Bad Creek Access Trail junction. Take the other branch of the trail to reach Lower Whitewater Falls, 1.7 miles away. In 1.5 miles you will reach the junction with Lower Whitewater Falls Trail, where you will turn right. After a steep descent you will reach the viewing platform.

Photo Credit: Lyman Green

Pack List

  • Hiking boots
  • Water
  • Sun protection
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RT Distance 9.4 Miles
Activities Hiking
Skill Level Intermediate
Season Spring, Summer, Autumn
Trail Type Out-and-Back
Features
Forest
Waterfall
Wildflowers
Wildlife

Reviews

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Overall rating: 

Decent trail, large and beautiful waterfalls

This section of the Foothills trail is nice, but is not anything particularly spectacular. The climbs and descents are pretty mild, which makes covering a lot of ground quite easy. You cannot get very close to either of the waterfalls, which is a bit of a bummer, but they are both very scenic. The trail is also in very good condition.

Whitewater Falls

Very beautiful falls located not very far from the South Carolina border. One of the highest falls in the East.

Great Trail

This is a great trail with some amazing views and good clearings to get perfect photos if that's your thing. It's well kept so you don't have to worry too much about it being over grown. I can agree with the others that the trail was very busy on my trip, but the hike was enjoyable and the view of the largest waterfall in the state made it worth it.


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