Wildcat Wayside, now with improvements

Last Sunday was a perfect day to explore waterfalls after the heavy rains of the previous day. For this adventure I chose Wildcat Wayside, located off of U.S. 276 and S.C. 11 near Cleveland, SC. I've been there before several times through the years, the last time in December 2012. Every time I've visited in the past, I haven't seen much water flowing over the waterfalls. This time I knew I wouldn't be disappointed.

The first thing I noticed was the boiled peanut vendor taking up too much space in the parking area.
The second thing I noticed was a prominently placed sign naming the park, the first of several changes I would notice this visit.
Lower Wildcat Falls is right at the roadside, and the rains of the previous day helped with the water flow.
This is a photo from December 2012 showing how little water normally flows:
Sstone steps head up to the middle falls. At the top are two memorials to people who died from slipping and falling from the upper falls.
The trail crosses over the top of the middle falls.
The trees and even the rocks are now helpfully blazed with yellow.
The remains of the CCC built picnic shelter now features a nice display about its history.
Every time I come by here I've wondered what the shelter looked like, and now I know.

Further down is the beginning of a loop. The loop trail was already there when I last visited, but the sign was new to me.
The walk to the upper falls takes only a few minutes. They've added signs warning about the dangers of climbing this waterfall. Previous signs I've seen were taken. Let's see how long these last.
Several streams and creeks had to be crossed on the way to the falls, no big deal when you're wearing sandals.

The upper falls looked fantastic this day.
This is what the falls looked like back in December 2012, it's normal water flow:
Arriving back the the roadside, I then heading down a trail that's been blocked off for a few years now.
A tricky bridge over a small stream is the only part requiring caution.
The trail gradually rises while approaching a rather rocky area.
Aging graffiti from a few years ago is still there, but fading.
    Further on and up, the trail becomes indistinct and ends near Slickum Creek.
The area is mossy and rocky.
I also found the remains of two campfires that have been there a few years now.

And what looks like where the water pump, described in the sign at the picnic shelter, used to be located.
Upper, Middle, and Lower New Millennium Falls are located nearby on Slickum Creek. I passed up the chance to visit them again for a new trail I noticed had been staked out during my last visit.

The trail, blazed green, was mostly well marked except for the part where it came within sight of U.S. 276/S.C. 11. I walked along the roadside until I crossed a culvert over Slickum Creek and headed down another trail. Down this trail are two waterfalls. The first one, Last Falls on Slickum, is very near the roadside.
The trail continues on a short distance to the second waterfall, staying close to the creek bank. If you're not careful, you could end up getting dunked. This waterfall is named Sweet Thing on Slickum, and this one is a sweet thing:
I also stopped by River Falls to take a photo of the River Falls Fire Department building, or at least where the building used to stand. The site is located at the intersection of River Falls Road and Gap Creek Road.
The building was condemned a few years ago and only a few months later, the roof collapsed. The old building has been demolished, and a new building is going to be built on the same spot.

I also briefly looked around for any signs of the Swamp Rabbit railroad, now I know it passed through here. I didn't look hard though because this area was developed in the late 1940s and most obvious traces likely disappeared then.

I've uploaded my photos from this visit to Wildcat Wayside from Wildcat Wayside - Jan 2014 at Flickr, and Wildcat Wayside - Jan 2014 at Google Photos.

OpenStreetMap shows the trails, but does not currently render the locations of the waterfalls even though they've been added.

Comments

  1. I've never seen the Upper Falls so full! Looks like we'll have to head back sometime soon, maybe even try the Sweet Thing on Slickum hike. How many miles would you say it is round trip?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The Slickum hike is about 1/4 mile round trip, and the Wildcat Wayside loop trail is almost a mile round trip.

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