The Whitewater River features two large cascades as it flows from the mountains of North Carolina into Lake Jocassee. Upper Whitewater Falls is on the NC side of the border and the Lower Whitewater Falls is on the SC side. Both the upper and lower falls feature scenic overlooks that can be accessed by car. That’s why I’ve categorized these as attractions as well as a waterfall hikes. But in order to really take in the falls from the best vantage points, you’ll need to do some hiking.
Both of the cascades are on the Foothills Trail and are linked. So you could park in one place and hike to both attractions in the same day. But if you want to specifically take in the lower falls, navigate to the map point below and follow the instructions. The parking area is near Duke Power’s Bad Creek Hydroelectric Station. The entry gate is open during daylight hours. It opens automatically to allow you to exit in the dark in case your 3.8 mile out-and-back hike takes longer than expected.
Pull into the station and follow the signs for the Foothills Trail. You’ll drive a couple of miles and park at the flat area at the end of the road. Do not block any gates. There’s a public phone and a portable toilet in the lot. Hunting is not allowed in the area, so it’s jam-packed with wildlife.
The trail signage can be a little confusing. The signs seem to indicate you’ll follow white and yellow blazes, but you won’t. You will follow the blue blazes from the parking lot to the lower falls overlook.
The 1.9 mile (each way) trail is pretty easy with a few moderate sections of elevation. You will cross the river on two bridges. After that, you’ll cross a gravel road and continue downhill to the viewing platform.
Follow the blue blazes back to the parking lot. There is water along the trail, but you don’t have to get wet. It’s a really nice little day hike and it can get crowded in the afternoons during the warmer times of the year.
If you’re here in the summer, make sure to bring some insect repellant. You will encounter flying, biting insects by the river.