Yellow Branch Falls

Sumter National Forest, South Carolina, USA

About Yellow Branch Falls

Hiking Distance: 3.4 miles round trip
Suggested Time: 2 hours

Date first visited: 2012-10-15
Date last visited: 2012-10-15

Waterfall Latitude: 34.7955
Waterfall Longitude: -83.13423

Waterfall Safety and Common Sense

Yellow Branch Falls seemed to be almost like a virtual twin to the nearby Issaqueena Falls.

After all, they both possessed similar “character” (as Julie likes to say), and they were similar in size where I believe Yellow Branch Falls is said to be 40-50ft or so with a width of about 75ft.

Yellow_Branch_Falls_049_20121015 - Yellow Branch Falls in pretty low flow during our Autumn visit
Yellow Branch Falls in pretty low flow during our Autumn visit

However, unlike Issaqueena Falls, we had to earn our visit to Yellow Branch Falls with a bit of a 3-mile out-and-back hike.

While we didn’t have to do any scrambling for the waterfall, we did have to spend a little over two hours at a leisurely pace (which included taking photos along the way).

Indeed, the hike was mostly gentle in terms of the net elevation loss from the trailhead to the falls.

Plus, the nice Fall colors decorating the tall trees surrounding the trail further kept us occupied throughout our time on the hike.

Julie and I did spot a snake during our hike, which attested to how naturesque the relatively quiet experience was.

Yellow_Branch_Falls_004_20121015 - One of the unbridged stream crossings on the hike to Yellow Branch Falls
One of the unbridged stream crossings on the hike to Yellow Branch Falls

Anyways, I counted around 3 or 4 stream crossings throughout the hike, but I don’t recall if any of them were bridged.

Overall, we found that hiking to this waterfall was very much like a back-to-Nature experience as it was just us and the tranquil surroundings.

Perhaps the only thing that disturbed the peace was the presence of loud gunshots echoing and piercing through the tranquility during our visit.

We suspect that it was probably due to hunting, but since we’re not familiar with the hunting laws in Upcountry South Carolina, we’re not sure how commonplace it is to be within earshot of hunting activity on this trail.

Yellow_Branch_Falls_009_20121015 - Pretty Autumn colors starting to reveal themselves on the hike to Yellow Branch Falls
Pretty Autumn colors starting to reveal themselves on the hike to Yellow Branch Falls

Like with Issaqueena Falls, we happend to see this waterfall with pretty low flow, and I’d imagine its best volume comes during the Spring or right after a storm.

That said, we had to cross the shallow stream one last time in front of the falls to get the full frontal views you see on this page, but the low flow made that crossing a piece of cake.


Yellow Branch Falls resides in the Sumter National Forest near Walhalla, South Carolina. It is administered by the USDA Forest Service. For information or inquiries about the area as well as current conditions, visit their website or Facebook page.

Yellow_Branch_Falls_003_20121015 - Julie starting on the official trail to Yellow Branch Falls
Yellow_Branch_Falls_005_20121015 - Julie continuing on the fairly long trail to Yellow Branch Falls, but we were pre-occupied with the presence of the Autumn colors (though the gunshots echoing in the background were unnerving)
Yellow_Branch_Falls_011_20121015 - Julie almost making it down to the Yellow Branch Falls, but we had to negotiate one last stream crossing in order to get the most satisfying views of it
Yellow_Branch_Falls_014_20121015 - Finally making it to the front of the Yellow Branch Falls
Yellow_Branch_Falls_031_20121015 - Looking right up towards the top of the Yellow Branch Falls with a hint of Fall colors above it
Yellow_Branch_Falls_039_20121015 - Julie checking out Yellow Branch Falls to give you an idea of the size of the waterfall
Yellow_Branch_Falls_048_20121015 - Contextual look at the Yellow Branch Falls, which we appreciated as we started to make our way back to the trailhead
Yellow_Branch_Falls_054_20121015 - Julie traversing an unbridged stream crossing on the way back to the Yellow Branch Falls trailhead
Yellow_Branch_Falls_056_20121015 - On the return hike to the Yellow Branch Falls Trailhead, we somehow went back along this paved road to recover our car instead of going back on the exact trail, but we're not sure exactly where we had deviated from our original route

We happened to come to the trailhead for Yellow Branch Falls from Issaqueena Falls.

It was only a few minutes drive from there as we rejoined the SC28, then headed south (back towards Walhalla) for about a mile before turning right onto a short road leading to the car park for the Yellow Branch Picnic Area.

Yellow_Branch_Falls_001_20121015 - The Yellow Branch Falls trailhead and parking area
The Yellow Branch Falls trailhead and parking area

Similarly, if you’re coming up from Walhalla (the nearest town to Yellow Branch Falls), you can follow the same directions as that for Issaqueena Falls (we’ll punt you to that page for exact directions).

Except instead of driving north some 5.4 miles on SC28, you only have to go about 4.1 miles on it and look for the signposted “Yellow Branch Picnic Area” sign on your left.

For context, Walhalla was 26 miles (over 30-45 minutes drive) northeast of Toccoa, Georgia, 45 miles (an hour drive) west of Greenville, 93 miles (about 2 hours drive) south of Asheville, North Carolina, and 120 miles (about 2 hours drive) northeast of Atlanta, Georgia.

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Right to left sweep of the falls starting downstream and then ending at the top of the falls all as seen from close to its base

Fixated on the scenic uppermost part of the falls

Slow top down sweep of the falls from a more distant vantage point

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Tagged with: sumter, national forest, walhalla, greenville, south carolina, waterfall, upcountry, issaqueena falls

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Johnny Cheng

About Johnny Cheng

Johnny Cheng is the founder of the World of Waterfalls and author of the award-winning A Guide to New Zealand Waterfalls. Over the last 2 decades, he has visited thousands of waterfalls in over 40 countries around the world and nearly 40 states in the USA.
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