Marie McAden



Jumping Off Rock

Posted 5/17/2010 1:55:00 PM
Jumping Off Rock has long been touted as the “hallmark view” of the Jocassee Gorges. The rocky cliff, where peregrine falcons have been nesting the last two years, offers a breathtaking panorama of Lake Jocassee and the surrounding mountains.

So why is this exceptionally scenic photo spot the most overlooked overlook in South Carolina?

I found out this weekend when I headed up to the 33,000-acre Jim Timmerman Natural Resources Area at Jocassee Gorges in northern Pickens County. While the rugged terrain is as beautiful as any you will see in the Blue Ridge Escarpment, it’s not for sissy sedans.

Even in a sturdy SUV, the ride was rough—and oh, so exhilarating! We soon learned a visit to Jumping Off Rock is as much about getting there as what you find when you do get there.

The fun begins on Horse Pasture Road, a primitive gravel drive that ascends steeply to the 2,000-foot high rock overlook. Although the S.C. Department of Natural Resources has done much to improve the trek up the mountain, it’s still slow-going on this twisty, bumpy road.

The better to enjoy the scenery.

Along the way are several small waterfalls and six other overlooks, all with spectacular views. We stopped eight miles up the road at the North Carolina Overlook to have lunch on a stone bench erected by the S.C. Bear Hunters’ Association.

Another couple miles and we had reached Jumping Off Rock. What makes the view from this precipice so extraordinary is the lack of development anywhere in sight. It’s just mountains, trees and the gorgeous crystal clear waters of Lake Jocassee.

When planning your visit to Jumping Off Rock, be aware Horse Pasture Road is closed to cars from May 10 to Sept. 15 and from Jan. 1 to March 20. You can hike, bike or horseback ride up to the overlook, but then you’d miss all the dizzying turns and bouncy fun of this wild ride.

Want to learn more about the Jocassee Gorges? Call the Department of Natural Resources at (864) 654-1671 or visit www.dnr.sc.gov.