Tuesday, September 6, 2016

A waterslide at Long Shoals Wayside Park

Just because the Greenville County waterparks close after Labor Day weekend doesn’t mean you still can’t get some end-of-summer water slide action in! There are a few more weeks of hot days ahead of us here in the Upstate, plenty of time to enjoy this local spot with waterplay for all ages – Long Shoals Wayside Park.

One of two points of access to the creek from the parking area

Little Eastatoe Creek flows parallel to the Cherokee Foothill Scenic Highway (Highway 11) before flowing into Eastatoe Creek in the Jocassee Gorges Management Area. Eastatoe forms in the NC and SC foothills, flowing through the scenic “Narrows” with spectacular waterfalls (such as Twin Falls, also known as Eastatoe Falls) on it and its many tributaries along its way to Lake Keowee. Meanwhile, the headwaters of smaller Little Eastatoe are near Mosley Gap, near the intersection of Highway 11 with 178. Shortly before entering the Jocassee Gorges area, Little Eastatoe flows around a bend and through Long Shoals Wayside Park.

This easy-to-miss, 10-acre park just west of Sunset, SC doesn’t have splash pads, tubing or the crowds that you’ll find at local waterparks; instead, it has a long, old-fashioned natural water slide. The smooth, slippery rock is perfect for a run down Little Eastatoe Creek, with its 140-foot smooth slab of algae-covered rock providing a gentle slide that ends in a plunge into a shallow pool at the base. The natural water slide is similar to the famous Sliding Rock in Pisgah National Forest NC, but there are no lifeguards on duty and the park amenities are much more primitive.

One of two picnic tables with the parking lot visible through the trees

In addition to a parking area, there is a small picnic area with bear-proof garbage canisters. We enjoyed a picnic at one of the tables before heading down to the creek, carefully avoiding the poison ivy so prevalent in this area. In my opinion the primitive toilet wasn’t usable, not for its intended use, nor for changing into swimsuits – take care of that at home. The steps and trail down to the creek are short, but steep; exercise caution with small children and after rainy weather. And of course the conditions of Eastatoe Creek vary widely. Higher water levels, debris or many other factors will influence safety; use your best judgement, do not leave children unattended, and understand that there is inherent risk in using a natural slide.

The roadside park is managed by the Andrew Pickens chapter of the Cherokee Foothills Scenic By-Ways Association in partnership with the SC Forestry Commission, SC DNR, SC DoT, the Pickens County Council and Partners for Trout. As a result of this partnership, the cool, clear waters of Little Eastatoe are stocked with 9 to 12-inch brook, brown and rainbow trout, making this also a popular fishing spot with local anglers; you’ll see some smaller trout swimming the pool below the slide. At this point the creek is shallow with a sandy ‘beach’ area, which is well-suited to younger children. We easily spent a couple of hours in the warm summer sun, playing in the creek and taking turns sliding the slide. Although there isn’t much in the way of amenities at this little park, in my opinion the natural waterslide, the scenic beauty of the Jocassee Gorges area and the convenient location to Greenville (just a 45-minute drive!) make this a hidden treasure of Upstate SC.

Below the slide, a beach area perfect for younger children

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