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Mountain Bridge Wilderness Area

Jones Gap State Park



Hospital Rock - Falls Creek Falls Loop
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 roads.

Notes: 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.

As of October, 2003, there is now a $2.00/person fee to enter Jones Gap State Park.

The (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.

Hike Route and Mileage:

Start at Jones Gap State Park

Hospital Rock Trail - 4.4 miles

Falls Creek Trail - 1.7 miles

Falls Creek Road - 0.5 miles

Duckworth Road - 0.7 miles

Jones Gap Road - 1.8 miles

Finish at Jones Gap State Park

Total Mileage = 9.1 miles

Option - Out and Back side trip Symmes Chapel (aka Pretty Place):

From the junction of the Hospital Rock Trail & Cleveland Connector

Cleveland Connector to Dirt Road (CCC Road) - 0.5 Miles (At the end of the Cleveland Connector Turn Left at the Dirt Road)

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)

Camp Greenville Road to Symmes Chapel - 0.2 miles

Return to Hospital Rock Trail the same way - 2.1 miles

Option Total = 4.2 miles ( for a total hike of 13.3 miles)

Hike Description:

Start 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.

The trail 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.


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