Our stop at Devils Fork State Park was just a whim. We were headed to Fort Benning, GA and needed a stop enroute to break it into a two day drive. Devils Fork was in just the right place! Located in the foothills of the Great Smokey Mountains, Devils Fork offers the only public access to the largely undeveloped, 7,500 acre Lake Jocassee. The water is crystal clear and a haven for SCUBA divers and fishermen. Jocassee is the only lake in South Carolina offering both trophy trout and a smallmouth bass. Our campsite was on a point next to a cove with a nice beach. It was a very nice setting. The turns on the campground road were a bit tight for a long trailer like ours, but it worked out fine.
Around Lake Jocassee (from the South Carolina/Georgia line eastward to Jones Gap State Park), a series of steep-sided gorges carrying surging mountain rivers and streams down to the Piedmont has cut the generally uniform sloping face of the Blue Ridge Escarpment. These gorges together are known as the Jocassee Gorges. The Jocassee Gorges are home to a large number of waterfalls. A guide with directions to each of the falls was available from the park visitor center.
However, before we could really enjoy the area we had some repairs to make to the trailer. When we stopped for lunch on the way to the park we noticed some water dripping from under the trailer. We were afraid we had a leak in one of the holding tanks. When we got settled in I removed the fabric covering the bottom of the trailer and found no sign of leaks, but the insulation was soaked. After further investigation I found that water from leaky faucets had pooled in the outdoor faucet compartment, and had leaked into the insulation. After I made sure the compartment was properly sealed, I replaced the damaged insulation and we were good to go.
We drove to visit the Whitewater Falls and missed the turn and ended up at Gorges State Park in North Carolina. What a fortunate mistake! Thanks to a unique partnership of industry, the environmental community and the state of North Carolina, 10,000 acres of the Jocassee Gorges in Transylvania County were placed in public ownership, and the transaction created a 2,900-acre game land managed by the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission. Last October Gorges State Park opened its new 7,100 square-foot Visitor Center that was designed and built to national green building standards.
After a short stop in the Visitor Center to find out how we missed Whitewater Falls, we hiked three miles, round trip, to Rainbow Falls. The route was challenging, but not extreme. We met a young family on the trail with two little girls and wondered how they would hold up. However, when we saw them farther down the trail on our return trip, close to the falls, they seemed to be doing just fine. Going just a little bit farther on the trail beyond Rainbow Falls took us to the river above the falls and a wide expanse of rock that gives you access to the river. The view from there was terrific!
On our way back to Devils Fork, we stopped at the Upper Whitewater Falls and we were not disappointed. It is a short walk from the parking lot to the falls and there is a viewing platform that gives you an awesome view of the falls. We managed to arrive in this area at just the right time as the fall colors were at their peak and beautiful!
The next day I finished up the work on the trailer and we went kayaking on Lake Jocassee. It was great to see some of the homes and lodges along the lake shore. As we paddled along the shore we passed several coves that offered a shelter from the wind. After a lunch on shore, we paddled passed a group of SCUBA divers from Asheville who had traveled there to dive just because of the water clarity.
That night we packed up and got an early start the next morning for our drive to the Home of the Infantry – Fort Benning, GA.