Outdoor

Marie McAden

SOUTH CAROLINA INSIDER

 

Oconee weekend package includes ranger-guided waterfall tour

Posted 10/23/2013 12:08:00 PM

Need another reason to make it up to the mountains for a fall leaf-peeping getaway? If the beautiful autumn colors aren’t enough, how about a ranger-guided day trip to four stunning waterfalls?

The Oct. 28-30 fall falls tour is part of a package deal that includes two nights in one of Oconee State Park’s historic CCC-built cabins. Bring your spouse, sibling or friend and it’s just $100 per person double occupancy. If you prefer a cabin to yourself, it’s $150.

Here’s the itinerary:

Day 1: Check-in is at 4 p.m., but come early and spend the afternoon hiking on one of the park’s half-dozen trails. I suggest Hidden Falls, an easy-to-moderate two-mile, out-and-back trek to a beautiful cascade in a lush upcountry forest. It’s a great warm-up for what’s to come.

Day 2: Hop aboard a park van at 8:30 a.m. for an all-day waterfall tour with Park Ranger Jeff Atkins. The day’s schedule will include stops to Yellow Branch Falls, Brasstown Falls, Reedy Branch Falls and Bull Sluice, the signature rapid on Section III of the National Wild & Scenic Chattooga River

All four of these falls are awesome and no more than moderately difficult. Distances range from a 300-yard walk to the Bull Sluice rapids to three miles roundtrip to Yellow Branch Falls.

Around noon, the group will stop in the historic town of Walhalla for lunch. Pack your own or grab a bite at one of the local restaurants. The choice is yours.

Day 3: Check-out is at 10 a.m. Before you head home, enjoy some of Oconee State Park’s other amenities. Rent a canoe and paddle around the centerpiece lake, take a leisurely hike on a nature trail or play a round of carpet golf. Whatever you choose to do, it will be against a backdrop of trees ablaze in color. Savor the spectacle!

For $50 more, you can extend your vacay for another night. Better yet, stay a fourth night and pay just $25, plus taxes and fees.

If you can’t get away in October, the park will be offering the same package again Dec. 31-Jan. 2. Reservations for either excursion must be made at least a week in advance.

Space is limited to just 10 people on each tour, so make your reservations ASAP. Call Oconee State Park at (864) 638-5353 or email Oconee@scprt.com.