Turtle Rock Falls, NC

Located inside the Green River Gamelands, in Saluda, this ~18-ft waterfall is easily one of the most scenic of the area. The rocky cove setting and the cascading intricacies of its structure not only offers great photo opportunities, but it’s also relatively straight forward to reach and moderate in difficulty – making it a great afternoon jaunt!

The ~0.8 mile round trip hike gains and losses around 430-ft in elevation, as it follows a tributary of the Green River up the back end of Piney Mountain. I first visited it with 20 minutes left before sunset, as I was in the area from another adventure and hungry for more. I saw a surge of pictures from Turtle Rock Falls coming out of the local waterfalling community around that time and decided to jump on the bandwagon.

While not a complicated hike, there is a bit of small creek rock hopping and the trail is faint in places with Stinging Nettle, making it a bit difficult to follow closely at times. As always, plan accordingly.

Parking:

From I-26, take exit 59 towards Saluda (the same exit for the Bradley waterfalls as well). After the exit, you want to head east on Holbert Cove Rd (take a left if coming from I-26 E, take a right if coming from I-26 W). After turning east from the exit, take the next left onto Green River Cove Rd. The initial part of the road is steep and windy with hairpin turns, but eventually levels out as you reach the valley floor. Drive 7.8 miles down and park at a small pull out on your left at (35* 18.1667′ N, 82* 15.7786′ W).

Or you can click here for an approximate Google Map waypoint.

Once Parked:

You’ll have to back track on the road about 50-ft, as the parking is just beyond the tributary. On the river right side, where the creek meets the road, is a small but noticeable spur trail heading upstream. Follow that old grade for about 0.2 miles, then it’ll cross the creek before continuing upstream for another 0.2 miles on river left until it reaches Turtle Rock Falls. (35* 18.0194′ N, 82* 15.4684′ W)

The trail is faint in places, and you may lose sight of it for a few yards here or there. But the creek is low flow and the ultimate goal is to just head upstream. Once I got within eye sight of the waterfall, the last dozen yards or so I walked on the creek bed, river left side. There is Stinging Nettle all around the creek bed at the falls, I’d advise covering your legs.

I found the path to be more discernible as I was coming back out the trail to the road again. You can also continue further upstream for about another 0.4 miles, on river left, to Rainy Falls at (35* 17.1854′ N, 82* 15.1828′ W) – but I have yet to visit it and don’t have much more beta than that. From what I’ve heard, that section of the hike is a bit more complicated but not too unmanageable. It might be worth it for the more enthusiastic waterfallers out there.

Turtle Rock Falls
(35* 18.0194′ N, 82* 15.4684′ W)
Pan of Turtle Rock Falls, at dusk.
Turtle Rock Falls

A downloadable Gaia GPS track can be found here.