Updated: Nov 4, 2021
The Appalachian Mountains have beckoned to the spirit of the outdoor traveler for decades. The ridges of blue, lofty views, and cool mountain air offer a sense of adventure that cannot be replicated elsewhere. However, there is a section of the Appalachian chain that many folks are unaware even exists. This section is the Blue Ridge Escarpment, also known as the Blue Wall.
So, what exactly is The Blue Wall?
In Lake Hartwell Country (the Northwest corner of South Carolina), the Blue Ridge Escarpment can be seen from all corners of our region. The Escarpment refers to a geographical phenomenon that occurs in our region of the Southern Appalachian Mountains. Unlike most of the Appalachian chain, which resembles layers of blue waves, the mountains in this area plummet over 2,000 ft. in less than half a mile into the piedmont below. This creates an awe-inspiring sight: a magnificent wall of blue that is unique to the South Carolina Upstate. Because of the grandiose appearance of these mountains rising dramatically against the sky, the Cherokee Tribe that once lived in this area called the Blue Ridge Escarpment "The Blue Wall".
Below is a view of The Blue Wall from the top of Glassy Mountain in Pickens, SC. (Read more about scenic overlooks in our area here.) Notice how the landscape changes drastically from rolling hills to grandiose mountains. This phenomenon can only be seen in the upstate of South Carolina.
This drastic change in elevation also results in something that visitors from around the country come to see... waterfalls! There are over 300 waterfalls in Oconee County alone. Below, you'll see just a few of our favorites. You can read more about the waterfalls in our region here.
Waterfalls from the top left to bottom right: Fall Creek Falls, Long Creek Falls, Spoonauger Falls, Yellow Branch Falls, Twin Falls, Opossum Creek Falls, King Creek Falls, Riley Moore Falls, and Issaqueena Falls.
Hundreds of waterfalls aren't the only breathtaking scenes that are created by The Blue Wall. This drastic change in elevation creates several unique geological features in the Upstate, including cliffs that drop off at nearly 300 ft, and incredibly deep gorges. The best place to see these gorges are none other than the Jocassee Gorges, which are so deep that micro weather patterns are created within them, resulting in incredible biodiversity of flora and fauna. These gorges are also a temperate rainforest, one of only 2 in the Lower 48 of the United States.
In the Jocassee Gorges, you can find the highest diversity of salamanders in the world as well as an incredibly rare flower called the Oconee Bell. This delicate, white flower only grows in the Southern Appalachian Mountains near the border of Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina. However, most of its habitat is in South Carolina in the Jocassee Gorges. You can see them bloom from mid-March through April.
Lake Hartwell Country is the land By the Blue Wall. It's magnificent beauty can be seen from the winding roads of Highway 11, to the main street of Pickens, to the back porch of Chattooga Belle Farm, all the way down to Big Water Marina in the southernmost parts of our region. To read more about The Blue Wall, click here.
Check out our interview with local expert and historian, Dennis Chastain, as he explains in detail why the Blue Wall is such a magnificent facet to the upstate of South Carolina:
We hope to see you soon in Lake Hartwell Country and help you experience all of the incredible activities that the land By the Blue Wall has to offer! For more information, take a look around our website or keep up with us on Facebook and Instagram. You can also stop by our visitor center in Pendleton! We'll see y'all soon!