Ahhh Labor Day weekend…you are my favorite. Maybe because every year I need a break immediately after the start of school (don’t judge – y’all know back to school shopping, homework, carpooling, and scheduling insanity is stressful!). Or it could be because Labor Day weekend is the last big summer hurrah:  the pool is still open, football has started, the grill is hot and drinks are flowing. And this year the weather just so happened to be perfect.

So what did we do? Well, a little bit of everything actually. We hit up the Bacon Labor Day festival in Travelers Rest (OMG so much fun!). Listened to Music in the Woods at Paris Mountain State Park. Celebrated birthdays. And of course, we went on an epic adventure.

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Issaqueena Falls and Stumphouse Tunnel

Walhalla, SC | Sumter National Forest

This place is full of legends, history, and stunning sights.  From the deep, dark railroad tunnel to the gorgeous 200′ waterfall – adventure is everywhere you turn.  And while you can park your car and walk literally just a few feet to both the waterfall & tunnel, there are plenty of opportunities to get a hike in.  Trust me, I am still sore and it’s been 2 days.

DSC_0453 (2)The legend of Issaqueena Falls is quite fascinating.  Short story – there was an Indian maiden (Issaqueena) who had a thing for an English settler. When she warned him of an impending Indian attack, she of course had to flee, and found the perfect hiding spot behind the waterfall.  Pretty neat to ponder while you are behind the falls yourself.  BUT – be careful getting there.  It’s quite treacherous if you ask me.  As you walk in from the parking lot, go down the left side of the falls to get there (although you can probably get to it from the other side as well – we didn’t try).  Be sure to also climb down (again – carefully!) to view the waterfall from the rocks below.  It’s pretty steep, lemme tell ya, but we managed and it was well worth it.

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Issaqueena Falls

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Issaqueena Falls

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Behind Issaqueena Falls

And HOLD ON!  Our adventure is not over.  After hiking (climbing) up and down both sides of the waterfall, we made our way over to Stumphouse Tunnel.  You can walk but we drove.  It’s just up the mountain a little ways after the waterfall.

Here we also climbed the trail that goes up and over the railroad tunnel, which is a great work out (so steep!), but the tunnel itself is pretty spectacular.  The “tunnel to nowhere” is exactly that – construction on it came to a halt during the Civil War, leaving just a big hole in a mountain that’s quite exciting to explore.  TAKE A FLASHLIGHT though.  Of course (OF COURSE) we did not (why would we plan for anything in life), but it’s kinda dark so a flashlight would be handy.  I felt quite inadequate as I tripped by many folks with their fancy headlamp gear.

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Just a quick note – it does get crowded, especially on the weekends, holidays, summertime, pretty days…not to scare you away though.  It was a great adventure full of history, legends, and steeeeeep hikes.  Until next Tuesday, happy trails!

2 Comments on “Tuesday Trail Tips: Issaqueena Falls & Stumphouse Tunnel

  1. Do you mean the left side of the waterfall if you are facing the falls? The trail to the bottom goes down to the right of the waterfall from the observation deck, and it’s not an official trail. People have died climbing down, and the trail itself is covered in poison ivy… Not worth it imo, especially since most of the view of the falls is blocked by foliage during the summer.

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    • If you want to get behind the waterfall you can go in to the left as you enter from the parking lot. To get down to the bottom of the falls we went to the right, past the observation deck and down the “trail”. And I do agree – no view is worth dying for, so if you aren’t comfortable or don’t feel as though it is safe do NOT do it! There have been quite a few times I have chosen not to continue when on a trail.

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