Day 39: Andrew Pickens Ranger District of Sumter National Forest

Road Miles: 17.7

Total: 4116.4

Trail Miles: 6.3

Total: 114.9

Site: Andrew Pickens Ranger District, Sumter National Forest

After a great night of sleep and a leisurely morning, I backtracked about a mile down the road to the Opossum Creek Falls trailhead. I parked next to a couple of cars and spent several minutes wandering around looking for the trail before realizing that it was actually about 50 yards further down the road, helpfully marked by a bunch of sticks and branches on the side of the road. 

This trail is about 4.4 miles round-trip, marked with white blazes. The Sumter NF guide (PDF) indicates that the trip is around two hours each way, but I made the whole trip in that time. The falls themselves are lovely, without about a 125-150 foot drop over two tiers. I saw a few other people on this trail, mostly on the return. I observed that they were generally older, and moving fairly slowly, so maybe that’s how the guide came up with its time estimate.

I got back to the van around 1p and was starving, so I headed back toward Long Creek, where I figured I’d suffer through another fried chicken sandwich because they are cheap and filling. En route, I noticed that Chattooga Belle Farm, which I’d passed the previous evening, was open, so I stopped to check it out. This place is a find! It’s been open for a little over a year, and while they do have a seasonal restaurant that was open when I arrived, it was a little pricier than I could afford. However, the farm store has a small selection of ready-to-eat items, including apple cider donuts that only cost $0.75! So, I ate three of those for lunch instead. I also picked up a grip of Pink Lady apples, which they sell for only a buck a pound. Pink Ladies! For a BUCK a POUND! I love South Carolina!! 

Amply stuffed with apple-based items, I jumped over to the tasting room at the farm’s distillery around the corner. They offer free tastings, and at the time I visited, they had three brandies, two whiskies, a moonshine made from muscadine, and a vodka made from apples, all charcoal-filtered. I sampled, um… *several* and they are putting out some great spirits here! I ended up buying a mason jar of the “MuscaShine” because it’s the least expensive and sure seemed to offer the most bang for the buck, good news for my wallet.

I briefly dropped back by the General Store in Long Creek to pick up a couple of re-supply items and use the wifi, then continued on to Brasstown Falls. The guide wasn’t very clear about how to arrive at the trailhead, and there’s no cell service out there, so I ended up parked almost a half mile from it. However, the actual trail is only a little over a half-mile each way to the first falls, and I was excited to be outside walking, so I didn’t really care. The trail is an easy, yellow-blazed, out & back round-trip to the middle of these multi-tiered falls. From those, you can walk up- or downstream to explore the other tiers which range from 20-40 feet. There are a few primitive campsites adjacent to the trail; they were all full when I visited. The easiest-to-access middle fall was the only one where I saw other people. The top fall seemed to have the longest drop. However, getting up close to them required a log walk over the creek. The lower fall was also a little harder to reach, with a bit of off-trail scrambling.

After exploring and chilling at the upper and lower falls for a delightful while, I hiked back out to the van and drove to a wide spot at the end of a forest road on the way to the Riley Moore Falls I was planning to hit the next morning. I watched the sun set through the trees as I snacked on apples washed down with a nip of ‘shine. The fireflies began to pop back up, doing their little pheromone boogies, and soon enough, it was lights out.