Falls and Cascades along

the Rim of the Gap Trail

 

 
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The 4.3-mile Rim of the Gap Trail runs between Caesars Head and Jones Gap state parks in the Mountain Bridge Wilderness in northern Greenville County, SC. There are numerous small waterfalls and cascades along this very wet and - at times - narrow trail. There is so much water that much of this north-facing trail is closed during the coldest days of winter due to ice build-up. The trail is rated very strenuous because, depending on which direction you hike it in, you either lose or gain 1,400 feet in elevation. Plus, there are numerous stream crossing - several of which are cable-aided and some of which you will think should have cables to hang on to. I will describe it from west to east, meaning you are going downhill from Caesars Head towards Jones Gap. From the Caesars Head store/office, cross US 276 and hike the Frank Coggins Trail (#15 - purple blaze) for .8 mile to where it intersects the Rim of the Gap Trail (#6 - yellow blaze) and the Naturaland Trust Trail (#14 - pink blaze). Just before this intersection, you will cross a bridge atop Cliff Falls, the largest of the cascades - which is pictured above during a mild winter freeze. Turn left after crossing the bridge to join the Rim of the Gap Trail. The trail descends to a crossing of the lower cascades of Cliff Falls. At this point you can see the upper section of the falls that the trail crossed at the bridge. About .7 mile down Rim of the Gap (1.5 miles total) is "Sluice of the Rim" where the trail crosses in the spray of this falls. Another .8 mile along the trail (2.3 miles total) is the appropriately named "Drooling Lips" cascade. Another .1 mile (2.4 miles total) is Weight Watchers Rock, a large boulder balanced atop other boulders with enough room for a packless hiker to squeeze through. If squeezing through several tons of gneiss is not your idea of fun, there is a bypass trail around the rock. Numerous more cascades abound along the trail, some of which are pictured below. After 2 miles (2.8 miles total), Rim of the Gap intersects the John Sloan Trail (#21 - pink blaze). The trail's footing gets easier but its steepness increases as its descends toward Jones Gap. Before hiking Rim of the Gap, stop in at the Caesars Head store/office to purchase a trail map and to check on trail conditions. Purchase a copy of the "Mountain Bridge Trails" guidebook to get more-detailed descriptions of the 50-mile trail network in the Mountain Bridge Wilderness.


Upper section of Cliff Falls



Lower cascade of Cliff Falls



Sluice of the Rim



Drooling Lips from the front



Drooling Lips from the side



Cascade along the trail



Cascade along the trail



Cascade along the trail


Directions: Caesars Head State Park is on US 276 in northern Greenville County, SC about one hour from Greenville. Check with the park rangers for trail conditions. During winter, trails may be icy and some may be closed. Remember to register at the trailhead.



All photos Allen Easler.