Friday, March 24, 2017

The Other Side of Eastatoe Falls

Back in 2009, I visited a waterfall nearby for the first time.  Its name is Eastatoe Falls, but it is also known as Twin Falls. The latter name comes because there are actually two waterfalls here that are side by aside. 


The two falls are quite different from one another, the left being mostly a straight drop top to bottom, the right being a cascading falls. The two falls are along Reedy Cove Creek

I wrote about visiting the falls here.  You might recall that there is a little bit of narrow gravel road to get to the parking area, but not enough to keep most riders away.  It is a ¼ mile walk from the lot to the observation platform at the base of the falls, so you can make it even in riding boots. 

I had heard that the top of the falls has some interesting things to see, so I researched how to get there.  It turns out that there was once a railroad here owned by the Appalachian Lumber Company.  They built it to supply lumber from these parts to be used to make sewing machine cabinets at the Singer Sewing Machine Company that was located in Pickens South Carolina, a town I pass through frequently on the way to other places.

There is another way to get to the falls, but to the top instead of the bottom.  First, lets look at the map.

Click here for a larger, interactive map
Pickens is at the bottom.  The bullseye is the location of the falls themselves.  Balloon A is the parking lot for the bottom of the falls, where I visited a few years ago.  Balloon B is the parking area for the trail to the top of the falls. 

The latter parking lot is on Cleo Chapman Road not far off US-178.  Cleo Chapman starts just a little after  the place where 178 starts to get quite twisty on its way north.  Lots of bikers make the run from SC-11 to the North Carolina state line on US-178 because of the extensive curves, both easy and challenging.

The turn onto Cleo Chapman Road is at the scenic establishment shown below, 3.2 miles north of SC-11. The turn is on the south side of the seedy roadhouse called Bob's Place or, alternatively, Scatterbrains. You can't miss it, as they say.

The left turn is across traffic coming around a tight blind bend, so I use care.

Here is a closer view of the falls location and the two parking areas.

Click here for e a larger, interactive map
Cleo Chapman is very twisty and slopes sharply downward for a couple of miles. 

The parking lot (at Balloon B) for the trail to the top of the falls is about ½ mile from US-178 and has space for only two cars.  It is the gravel drive visible just before this sign:

There is a red gate closing off the parking area from the trail, and sign nailed high on a tree indicating the Twin Falls trailhead.

By the way, this is not a very good place to go wearing your bike boots. The terrain is hilly and rough in places, and the walk is a couple of miles

Walk around the gate, and go a few dozen yards to this little sign: 

Turn left and go another few dozen yards to a pair of gateposts on the right.  The trail starts there.

The wide unpaved, roads that go both directions from the sign appear to be fire roads, and do not seem to lead to any points of interest or views.  

After a while of going up and down on the sometimes-steep trail, you come to a place where the railroad right of way existed.  They have installed wooden stairs in some places to help you get up and down the hills.

You can see where the right of way was from the cuts and fills that were used to reduce the grades the locomotives hauling cars loaded with timber had to climb and descend.  The place where the greenery is in the photograph below is one of the cuts, now eroded to a U-shape.   

Despite the extensive cuts and fills, they employed six two and three truck geared locomotives manufactured by Shay to handle the steep grades.

All evidence of the wooden bridges and trestles themselves is long gone, other than the abrupt drop offs where they started and ended.  That is why the trail diverts from time to time -- to go around the places where there were bridges or trestles. 

After less than a mile of walking, I come to the first hard evidence of the railroad: a length of steel rail embedded in the soil.

And a little further along, some more rail. 

The Appalachian Lumber Company Railroad was established in the late 1920s, but met its doom only about two years later.  A storm caused trees and logging debris to wash down the creek, destroying some of the bridges and trestles.  Most of the rail was salvaged, but some was so difficult to remove and so twisted that it was left.

Take a look.


There is a date on one of the pieces of rail: 12 89 -- indicating December 1889 -- so the rail was not new to the lumber company railroad, but was purchased used.  That rail was manufactured in Scranton Pennsylvania.

It must have been quite a wash that went through here.  The lumber company couldn't afford to continue logging here as a result.  Some ten years later, the logging operati
on was restarted by the Poinsett Lumber and Manufacture Company, but using trucks for hauling.

The trail stops at the top of the falls near here: 

Please do not venture off the trail and onto the rocks at the brink of the falls.  
Many have slipped and fallen to their deaths here.

The railroad right-of-way extended to Pickens, but I have not located the right of way between here and there.  There is a remnant in a Town Creek Park in Pickens.  See the link to Mark's Photo Travel Blog below. 

The roofed observation platform near the base of the falls on the other side of the creek is visible from high above it on the trail.  I have been there several times before. 

It is centered in the frame above with the path leading to the parking area off to its left.

This is what it looked like from the base of the falls on an earlier trip: 

And a view from the platform that day:

Well, this wasn't much of a motorcycle posting, but it was a good day in the outdoors to see a local natural attraction from another viewpoint.

Come and visit us here in the Carolinas so you can see some of the sights and ride our great motorcycle roads! 

Links to More Info:


Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Gettin' Dirty on Winding Stairs

You know that I have a tendency to go on gravel roads from time to time, even though my Ninja -- and certainly its tires -- are not really designed for that.

[OK.  So, what does that have to do with Winding Stairs, Bucky?  This?]

Winding Staircase in Spello, Umbria, Italy
Dave Burns Photography

No, not those winding stairs, though they are in a pretty part of the world, I understand.

Actually, near where I live in South Carolina, there is a road by that name.  I had a hankering to explore a little, so I looked at the map.

Click here for an interactive map.
(Cane Creek is mislabeled.  It is actually West Fork Townes Creek.)

Intriguing, don't you think?

Thirty-three miles to its east end from home, and only a little over 4 miles long.  Worth the trip, I'd say, to have a look. 

I do a little research and find that there is another name for the road: Cheohee.  An Indian name, for sure. It might actually be Tsiy’h, defined as "Otter place," from tsiyu; variously spelled Cheowa, Cheeowhee, Chewohe, Chewe, etc.  Here, it probably refers to a former settlement on a branch of the Keowee River, in Oconee County, S.C.  

Now you know as much as I do.  I guess we don't have to know everything about it to go ride on it, do we? 

I do go on to read that it descends from the east end to Townes Creek, then rises again on its way to SC-107.

I start out and make my way to the east end of the Winding Stairs, mostly via. SC-133 (Crowe Creek Road), SC-11, North Little River Road, Cherokee Lake Road, and Jumping Branch Road that circles the private Lake Cherokee.  These are easy roads with few significant curves, but they're a good way to get there.  The start of Winding Stairs is only about 12 miles away from Whitewater Falls, a destination I have gone to quite a lot over my years of riding 

I reach the start of the road, off Jumping Branch Road.  I stop and change the battery in my GoPro to make sure I don't miss anything.  While I am doing that, I scout out the road condition.

■ Dry.  That's good.  A showstopper if not.
■ Smooth.  Maybe recently graded.  Very nice. 
■ No significant loose sand or gravel.  Excellent. 

Set to go, then.  The road is pretty straight at first, and the riding is easy. There is a steep downhill, but not dirt-bike worrisome. 

Less than a mile in, I find a primitive campground.  I stop and look around while I have a slurp of water.

Looking toward the road in.

Looking toward the road leaving.
Lots of big rocks here.  The creek is not very high, so it isn't very photogenic today.  Being winter, you can see quite a ways into the woods.  There are no structures that I have seen anywhere yet. 

Just across the road is the trailhead for Winding Stairs Trail, a 3½-mile hike that is said to be good for beginners.  This end is the lower elevation; it climbs from here about 1100 feet to the Cherry Hill Campground up on SC-107.  To keep things straight (if you go for a hike), the creek to the south of the trail will be Crane Creek, while the creek to the north will be West Fork Townes Creek.  I'm glad to know that, but I don't think I'll do any extensive walking today.  These boots are nice and protective, but not made for walking.  
Besides, I still have the some more gravel to explore just ahead. 

Soon enough, I mount up again and begin ascending.  The road becomes more twisty.  I expect that a dual-sporter or trail bike rider would enjoy this, though it might be too tame for seasoned riders.  I take it slow and easy, in case of anything untoward like loose gravel or oncoming traffic.

I find that the whole way is easy enough for almost any street bike.  The surface is smooth, with only a little scattered gravel in the center and on the edges.  No deep gravel or sand.  There are a few short sections where there is washboard that rattles my fillings, but nothing much worse than that. Weighting the pegs helps me though those sections. 

I find a spot to stop and look over on where I have come. 


From down there... 

...and there. 

Pretty country. 

I continue to scan the surroundings and find no sign of humans.  No signs, houses, or anything else.  The only guardrails were at the bridge over the creek back there. 

After only 15 or 20 minutes, I emerge onto SC-107.  I turn south and run through some tighter curves.  I stop for a few minutes at Oconee State Park, then go through the towns of Walhalla and Pickens on my way home.  The state park has a lake and lots of picnicking and camping spaces.  It is a good place to visit on a hot summer's day.

I pass Issaqueena Falls and Stumphouse Tunnel, both at the same site.  The entrance is on the left in a blind curve.  Watch out for turning traffic there. 

Walhalla has the Oconee Heritage Center museum and Oconee Veterans Museum that are interesting to visit. 

I arrive home in too short a time.  I only had time to ride about 114 miles today, but I enjoyed the little twisty, gravelly bit on Winding Stairs.

Go visit it when you have a little spare time to wind around. 

Additional Hiking Information:

Other Destinations Nearby:

A Similar Trip With Some Fall Color