Outdoor

Marie McAden

SOUTH CAROLINA INSIDER

 

An easy walk through an Appalachian cove forest takes you to Station Cove Falls

Posted 4/16/2012 10:53:00 AM

You don’t need to hike through rugged mountain terrain to enjoy a great view of Station Cove Falls, a 60-foot cascade near Oconee Station State Historic Site in Walhalla.

The three-quarter mile trail to the falls is easy and pleasurable, passing through a beautiful Appalachian cove forest that becomes a wildflower wonderland in the spring. This time of year, you may see trillium, mayapple, pink lady’s slipper orchids, bloodroot and redbud.

It’s the kind of trail that’s perfect for a family outing, even if you’re traveling with small children. What kid wouldn’t love hopping across rocks to traverse Station Creek? At the base of the falls, they can dip their feet in the cool creek waters.

The trail begins at a parking area .3 miles past Oconee Station State Historic Site. The lot can only accommodate four or five cars, but there’s plenty of additional parking in the park’s picnic area.

When we visited the area earlier this month, we opted to walk the three-quarter mile nature trail through the park that comes out on the road across from the Station Cove Falls Trail parking area.

If you’re really ambitious, you can hike the 3.2-mile Oconee Passage of the Palmetto Trail that begins at Oconee State Park. Whichever route you choose, you’ll end up at the falls, formed from headwaters atop Station Mountain.

But don’t rush to get there — the journey is as appealing as the destination. As you make your way along the trail, you’ll pass above a beaver-enhanced wetland, along the side of a wooded slope dominated by oaks and hickories and across several small streams.

At the end of the trail, you’ll come to one of the most botanically diverse habitats in the Eastern United States — the cove forest. More than 250 species of plants have been identified here, including 14 rare plants.

The constant spray from the waterfall tumbling over rocks and boulders has created a habitat for a variety of species, including ferns, mosses liverworts, salamanders, crayfish and aquatic insects.

Spend some time here and enjoy this fascinating forest environment and, of course, the beautiful falls.