While most guides will identify Big Bend Trail as the route to Big Bend Falls, there are actually 2 other viable routes to this waterfall: Via Burrells’ Ford and via Licklog Falls.
At 30 feet, this is the largest waterfall on the Chattooga, and since the Chattooga is our largest mountain river, you’ll be looking at more water volume than you’ll see anywhere around.
The key to using any of the 3 ways in is the Chattooga Trail which parallels the river for 15.5 miles. Coming in from the south, the trail will take you by Pigpen Falls and Licklog Falls. These waterfalls are located right where the Foothills Trail joins up with the Chattooga Trail. There, within about 100 yards, you’ll find 5 waterfalls – both levels of Pigpen Falls and the 3 sections of Licklog Falls, the last of which dives straight into the Chattooga River.
To get to Big Bend Falls, simply hop on the Chattooga Trail at Pigpen Falls, head upstream on the Chattooga, and don’t hop off for about 4.6 miles. You will be about 120 feet above the river when you get to the falls. Depending on foilage, you may not be able to see the waterfall, but you’ll definitely be able to hear it. About 20 yards past the scramble trail down to the river, the trail starts uphill via a series of switchbacks. The first turn involves some ledge steps followed by a run of wooden steps. If you see these features, you’ve gone too far.
To get to the waterfall, use the scramble trail down about 100 feet to a large tree that stands about 15 feet above the river bed. Use the roots and trees provided to get down to this tree. If you go to the right of the tree, you can get to the middle of the waterfall but it’s not a good place for photos. Going to the left, you’ll find a niche in the rock which will allow you to climb down to the river bed. From there you can get some good pictures. The best shots will come from the Georgia side of the river, but unless you’re willing to wade waist-deep, be satisfied with camera work from the SC side.
Big Bend comes in 2 sections. The top section of 15 feet is a set of ledges followed by a 15 foot plunge.
As with the run from Burrell’s Ford, the trail generally follows the river but will cut off some points so this hike won’t be as flat as you think it is. But it usually is within sight and sound of the Chattooga making this long hike a pleasant one.