Horsepasture River

Location: 45 miles southwest of Asheville, North Carolina
Features: Creek, Waterfalls, Mountains

The most beautiful mountain regions of the south can be found at the border of North and South Carolina between Asheville, N.C. and Greenville, S.C...well, at least from my point of view. This area offers beautiful forests, big streams and creeks with many cascading and plunging waterfalls plus high and rugged mountains.
There are a lot of streams which can be hiked, one of them is Horsepasture River. The entrypoint to the trail is close to Highway 64 on the road to White Falls, one of the biggest falls of the south.

panoramic view
views along Highway 64

Shortly after the trailhead is the first attraction, Rainbow Falls, one of the highest waterfalls I have seen in that area.

Rainbow Falls
Rainbow Falls

After you have passed a campsite, you now have two options to continue: along the river or on the trail. The first choice is a real pain, although you get to see more waterfalls. There is no trail along the river, so you have to find your way through thick and dense vegetation, where plants and trees cut your skin. You even have to cross the river twice, since the left side of the river gets very steep and it's not advisable to continue on that side. The waterfalls you'll see if you take that way are not as dramatic as Rainbow Falls, so I would recommend to choose the second option: the real trail. Simply continue the small path through the campsite (always stay left on any fork) uphill until you get to a gravel road. Take a right there and take the next trail to your right down to the river again. It's not an easy hike either, since it's a really strenous climb uphill plus you have to do it again on your way back.

Horsepasture River
impressions along the river

Anyway...both options will finally bring you to the top of Windy Falls, a quite powerful waterfall on a sheer cliff. From that cliff you'll also have nice views of the mountains.

view from top of Windy Falls
views from the cliff

To get to the bottom of Windy Falls you kind of have to climb, because there is no trail down. The only way is at the left of the falls (if you stand on top). Always stay a couple of yards away from the falls until you find a short drop to the entrance of a small cave (it's actually more a huge crack than a cave). If you cross that cave you'll stand at the bottom of Windy Falls. It took me quite a long time to find that way and the key feature is that short drop (a height of about 1-2 yards). Once you managed it, the rest is no problem. By the's a big advantage to be tall for that short climb...

Windy Falls
Windy Falls

Home - Attractions and Hikes of the south

Other Attractions:

Amilacola Falls SP / Atlanta / Black Rock Mountain SP / Blue Ridge Mountains / Boone Hall Plantation / Caesars Head SP / Middle Saluda River / Charleston / Chimney Rock / Gulf of Mexico / Horsepasture River / Magnolia Gardens / Oak Alley Plantation / Panther Creek Recreation Area / Providence Canyon / Savannah / Great Smokey Mountains NP / George L. Smith SP / Tallulah Gorge SP / Toccoa Falls / Wakulla Springs SP

General Information