South Carolina

Oconee County

Winding Stairs Trail

Trail past the stunning Miuka Falls

A 75-foot waterfall tucked away along this moderate, 3.5-mile trail helps make the Winding Stairs Trail one of the finest beginner trails in northwest South Carolina. If you start at the northern trailhead in the Cherry Hill Recreation Area, this meandering path is an easy hike because it drops 1,100 feet over its length. If you are looking for a more demanding hike, start at the southern trailhead on Tamassee Road (FS 710). Either way, this is a great hike for beginners. Follow rust colored blazes through a hardwood forest, encounter a multitude of wildflowers, and cross small creeks, all within sight or hearing of the West Fork of Townes Creek. The forest is mainly oak with an understory of buckberry and blueberry; fall colors here are particularly striking. Deep Ochre, red, and yellow fill the woods and provide a gorgeous habitat for thrushes, warblers, and indigo buntings in addition to deer and wild hogs. You will eventually enter a dry, open pine grove that gives way to a smaller path that leads to Miuka Falls. Oddly, just before the switchback to the falls, the Winding Stairs Trail makes its sole departure from Townes Creek, possibly the only point you won't hear the water. The path to the falls is not totally obvious, especially in winter and early spring, so keep your eyes opened. Continuing from Miuka falls, you eventually come to the southern trailhead on Tamassee Road.

Length: 3.5 miles

Difficulty: 3

Location: 34.8655, -83.1107

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