Sometimes it just pays to look around. Before heading out for a waterfall, Google Maps can provide insight into the terrain, the stream and the trail. But sometimes the best surprises are revealed when you switch to the satellite view. This was the case when a visit to Burnt Taynard Shoals was being planned.
The satellite view clearly showed the Shoals in the general area around the bridge over Little River and even the parking areas. It also showed a feature about 1000 feet downstream from the bridge that was not mentioned in any of the write-ups describing the Shoals.
There, in a bend in the river was another possible shoal area stretching the entire 100 foot width of the river. What was even more interesting was that the whitewater was contained in an short, even line across the river – evidence of a possible waterfall. The satellite shot also showed trails in the woods heading downstream. Perhaps this undocumented water feature had easy access.
Directions to the trail head are the same as for Burnt Tanyard Shoals, in fact, if you’re over at the Shoals, you can just walk under the bridge and find the downstream trails. Take SC 28 out of Seneca toward Walhalla, but at about the 6 mile mark, you’ll run into SC 11 at West Union. Right on SC 11 for a bit over 2 miles where you will take Country Junction Road (Old SC 11) as it turns off to the right. At 2 miles, you will cross SC 183 at which point, the road becomes Burnt Tanyard Road. Follow Burnt Tanyard about 3 miles until you cross the Little River bridge. Park on the right just past the bridge. You’ll see the downstream trails immediately on your right.
This area is also heavily used by the locals, just not as much as the Shoals on the other side of the bridge. There are multiple trails just past the bridge but these begin to consolidate about 500 feet downstream. The river will make a left turn then a hard right turn. You are wanting to get to the middle of this hard right turn.
The trail follows the river around the left turn then begins to parallel a small stream which takes you away from the river. Cross this stream and continue to make your way around to the right. You’ll hear the water and, at the top of the bend, you’ll find a spur trail to take you down to the rocks.
What’s you’ll see is a true waterfall – 100 feet across with a tiered drop of about 10 feet over a distance of only about 15 feet. What makes it really nice is that there is water flow over the rock face from shore to shore. There is a small sandy beach on the opposite shore and the trail indicates this area is used for recreation. There are a couple of flows that could probably be navigated by kayak.
As the river exits the falls, it slams into a rock bluff that forces it back to the right. The presence of this bluff also limits access to the river and the falls on the outside of the bend. Another 1000 yards downstream, the river runs over some small shoals then a quarter of a mile later, enters the backwaters of Lake Keowee.
As noted early, this is an undocumented and, therefore, unnamed waterfall that is being designated as Little River Falls. It is a most pleasant surprise that is well worth the easy walk to visit.