Hospital Rock - Falls Creek Falls
by Jack Thyen (SCJack33) Your Online Guide
Water: Restroom facilities
and a water fountain at Jones Gap State Park. Plenty of streams,
creeks, and waterfalls throughout the hike.
Difficulty Rating: Very Strenuous:
9 out of 10 on the difficulty scale; Not for the beginner
Trail Quality & Enjoyment Rating
: 8 out of 10
Pros: Awesome Waterfall,
Excellent Views, and Solitude
Cons: In order to make the
hike a loop, you must finish off by walking 3 miles of paved
The Mountain Bridge Wilderness Area is 10,000 acres of wilderness
containing over 50 miles of the best hiking trails in the
State of South Carolina. There is also access to the 80-mile
Foothills Trail. The trails can be accessed via either Jones
Gap State Park or Caesars Head State Park. A rough trail map
of the area can be found on www.sctrails.net , but I would
recommend stopping by the Caesars Head Park Store and purchasing
a trail map for $2.10. You can also purchase the same map
at Jones Gap, but the Jones Gap park office is rarely open.
of October, 2003, there is now a $2.00/person fee to enter
Jones Gap State Park.
(3) miles of paved roads that finish up this loop can be avoided
by taking two cars and parking one at each parking area.
This is a very strenuous hike and only recommended
for the experienced hiker. For a less strenuous hike to the
falls, you can park at the Falls Creek eastern trailhead and
hike 1.5 miles to the falls. This 3.0 mile out-and-back hike
rates a 7.0/10 on the difficulty scale, with about a 700-ft
climb from the trailhead to the base of the falls.
Route and Mileage:
at Jones Gap State Park
Rock Trail - 4.4 miles
Creek Trail - 1.7 miles
Creek Road - 0.5 miles
Road - 0.7 miles
Gap Road - 1.8 miles
at Jones Gap State Park
Mileage = 9.1 miles
- Out and Back side trip Symmes Chapel (aka Pretty
junction of the Hospital Rock Trail & Cleveland Connector
Connector to Dirt Road (CCC Road) - 0.5 Miles (At the end
of the Cleveland Connector Turn Left at the Dirt Road)
(CCC Road) to Paved Road - 1.4 miles (At the end of the Dirt
Road, Turn Left onto the paved Camp Greenville Road)
Road to Symmes Chapel - 0.2 miles
to Hospital Rock Trail the same way - 2.1 miles
Total = 4.2 miles ( for a total hike of 13.3 miles)
out at the Hospital Rock trailhead, just north of the fishpond.
Remember to fill out a hiker registration form and place the
designated copy in the box at the trailhead. As you look up,
you will see the impressive sight of Cleveland Cliffs up ahead.
Be prepared, the Hospital Rock trail will take you to the
top, a climb of almost 1700ft during the first 2.2 miles.
This is definitely one of the most difficult climbs in the
State of South Carolina. The good news is that this climb
scares away most of the "tourists" making this an
excellent hike if you are looking for some solitude.
starts off easy, passing a few campsites while following and
crossing over a small cascading stream. It doesn't stay easy
for long! After crossing under some power lines, the trail
heads steeply uphill, scrambling over and around huge boulders
and tree roots as it takes you up the side of Cleveland Cliffs.
About half way up, you pass by Hospital Rock, a huge boulder
that forms an impressive cave. This is a good place to take
a break because the next mile is killer!
I am sure
that the numerous switchbacks help out a bit, but this climb
is pure torture. You will probably need to stop to catch your
breath a few times during the climb and enjoy some nice views
down into Jones Gap to the south. Near the top of the climb
the trail follows and crosses over a small stream. After 2.2
miles of hiking, you reach a well-marked trail junction. Here
you can turn right and continue on the Hospital Rock Trail,
or do the optional out-and-back side trip to Symmes Chapel
by turning left and taking the Cleveland Connector.