Although Vaughn’s Cascade is on one of the two creeks formed by the catchment basin bounded by Hogback Mountain, Vaughn’s Gap, and Rocky Spur, the waterfall is not on Vaughn Creek, a stream that does not even flow from the basin.
Two unnamed streams drain the basin into two ponds that once were water reservoirs for the town of Landrum, SC. Known as the Blue Wall Preserve, this 500 acre preserve is managed by The Nature Conservancy. Section 2 of the Blue Wall Passage of The Palmetto Trail runs through the property and is used to access the waterfall.
From the intersection of SC 11 and SC 14, take 14 north for 2 miles to Belue Mill Road. Left on Belue Mill Road for 1.5 miles to Jamison Mill Road. Left on Jamison Mill for ¾ of a mile to Oak Grove Road. Left on Oak Grove for ¼ mile to Lake Road. Right on Lake for 1.2 miles to Lakeshore Road. Right on Lakeshore for 0.4 miles to Dug Hill Road. Left on Dug Hill for 0.2 miles to Pennell Road. Left on Pennell and take an immediate left into the parking area.
From the parking area walk around the gate and down the paved road for 0.2 miles to the crossing over Vaughn Creek. Just past the deteriorated bridge is the original parking area and the Blue Wall Preserve sign. From this point on, the road is unpaved.
Beyond the sign is a decorative stone gate followed by a kiosk. Your next landmark is a fork in the road with a gate on the left fork. Go around this gate and proceed up the trail. In less than a half mile you’ll encounter the first pond. Follow the trail to the right of the pond for about 0.4 miles to the second pond. Stay to the right of the second pond, also. In about 100 yards you will cross a small concrete bridge then, immediately on your left is Vaughn’s Cascade.
Standing in at about 25 feet tall, it is almost a waterslide over what appears to be just one big slab of granite with just a few tiny tiers to interrupt the water flow before it reaches the sandy bottom of the falls. There is no true base pool. What makes this cascade unique and beautiful is the water flow – it serpentines back and forth across the rock face. The entire flow moves from side to side producing a most unusual and pleasing sight.
To the left, you may see a faint trail heading up to the top of the falls. If you take this, you will find about a 40-foot approach run along the same granite slab before the stream gets to the brink of the falls.
Getting to the trail head may sound a little complicated but it really isn’t. The route is easily followed. Likewise, the trail is easy, wide with only shallow inclines. Vaughn’s Cascade is worth the visit.
And, once you’ve completed the hike, head back to the intersection of Hwy 11 and Hwy 14, where you will find The Junction. Stop in and have some good home cooking.