Cedar Mountain, NC
Jones Gap Falls
The 5.3-mile Jones Gap Trail follows an old toll road that was built by Solomon Jones in 1840 and was in use until 1910. The trail, a spur of the 80-mile long Foothills Trail, runs from US 276 above Caesars Head in the west to Jones Gap State Park in the east. The scenery, supplied by the Middle Saluda River and numerous streams, is quite beautiful. The trail drops 1,600 feet in elevation from west to east and makes for a pleasant and fairly easy day hike if you can arrange for a shuttle at Jones Gap. Numerous loop opportunties abound as well if you are a one-car hiker. Consult a copy of the Mountain Bridge Wilderness trail guide produced by the Naturaland Trust for details. The Mountain Bridge is an incredible 40,000 acre wilderness in northwestern South Carolina that encompasses Caesars Head and Jones Gap state parks as well as the Watson, Ashmore and Chandler Heritage Preserves. Numerous hiking trails traverse the Mountain Bridge.
Toll Road Falls
Lower tier of Dargans Cascade
Upper tier of Dargans Cascade
Directions: From Caesars Head State Park on US 276 in northern Greenville County, you have two options. Drive one mile north to the Raven Cliff Falls parking lot on the right and hike the Tom Miller Trail for .7 mile down to the Jones Gap Trail. You can also go another mile more up US 276 to a small trailhead parking area on the right to start the Jones Gap Trail from its western end.
From Travelers Rest, SC, take US 276 toward Table Rock State Park, Marietta and Cleveland. North of the town of Marietta, US 276 and SC 11 will intersect and join together for a few miles. These combined roads will pass through the town of Cleveland. After a couple miles, look for a woodcarving shop on the left and a F-Mart convenience store on the right. Turn right onto River Falls Road. There should be a sign directing you to Jones Gap State Park. Follow River Falls Road and the park signs for about four miles to Jones Gap State Park. Park in the lot, follow a short path up the hill into the woods, cross the Middle Saluda on a metal footbridge and enter the park. An old trout pond from the Cleveland Fish Hatchery is on the right, the park bathroom is the near building on the right, and the park office/education center is the far building on the right. The Jones Gap Trail starts at the bulletin board at the wooden vehicle bridge (about 100 yards upstream of the metal bridge).
No matter which end you start from, be sure to register at the trail head. From the western end, it will be 1.3 miles to Dargans Cascade, 3.4 miles to Toll Road Falls, 3.8 miles to Ben's Sluice and 4.2 miles to Jones Gap Falls. From the eastern end, it will be 4 miles to Dargans Cascade, 1.9 miles to Toll Road Falls, 1.5 miles to Ben's Sluice and 1.1 miles to Jones Gap Falls.
All photos © Allen Easler.