Looking for a new place to fish, swim, or just take a stroll? Allow us to introduce you to Cedar Falls Park in Fountain Inn, SC. The falls offer a nice change of pace to the usual hustle and bustle of parks like Falls Park or Cleveland Park. Not only is this a great place to spend some time outdoors, it is also a short drive from Happy Cow Creamery! Learn all about Cedar Falls Park in this week’s Fresh Air Friday.
Fresh Air Friday: Cedar Falls Park
Tips To Breathe In
- Difficulty: A walk in the park
- Price: Free
- Wheelchair/Stroller Accessible?: There are paved trails
- Pet-friendly?: On a leash under owner control at all times
- Parking: Two parking areas
- Hours/Seasonal: Dawn to dusk
- Amenities: Restrooms, playground, volleyball, and a picnic shelter
- Nearby?: Happy Cow Creamery
- Fact 1: The Cherokee Indians had a town in Eastatoe about 30 miles away while the Catawba Tribe were based in what is now Charlotte. Both agreed to share this land for hunting camps after they made peace following a battle around 1600.
- Fact 2: The second dam at Cedar Falls generated electricity until the 1940s when the Fork Shoals Mill began buying its electricity from Duke Power.
- Fact 3: Fork Shoals Baptist Church was organized in the 1780’s and has stood in its current location since 1888.
When you say the words “Reedy River” to most Upstate residents, they will likely imagine scenes like Falls Park, Cleveland Park, and the Swamp Rabbit Trail. Most of us would probably not give much thought to where the river goes or what it becomes too far south of Greenville. That is, in fact, a shame as one of the Upstate’s hidden gems is a park on the banks of the Reedy River just a little over a 30-minute drive from Downtown Greenville.
Cedar Falls Park is technically located in Fountain Inn but, depending on which way you go, it might as well be Pelzer as it is just a few miles past Happy Cow Creamery (more on them later) and Highway 25. Regardless, the park showcases the Reedy River at its finest as it expands to over 200’ across and sends its waters barreling over rocks and the remnants of man-made dams that once tried to harness its energy. For those accustomed to the narrow form the river takes closer to town, your first look at the falls can be a potentially breathtaking experience.
History is All Around Us
While the park itself was only developed by Greenville County Rec in 2011, the land here is rich in Upstate history. It is believed to have been fertile hunting grounds for the Cherokee Indians for the few hundred years prior to the arrival of European settlers. In the late 1780s, the town of Fork Shoals was founded in the area and saw rapid growth as for quite some time which led to the two dam projects we still see in the river today.
The first dam was constructed in the early 1800s by Hudson Berry who wanted to power a water wheel for his textile, grist and saw mills, as well as his cotton gin. Roughly 100 years later a much larger dam was built across the entire river in order to provide electricity for the Fork Shoals Mill and a local doctor’s home and medical clinic roughly a mile away. Remnants of both of these projects still stand today giving visitors to the site a unique and inspiring reminder of the ingenuity of those that came before us.
What to Expect
Today the park features not only the falls but all the amenities one would expect to find at such a destination. Both hiking and paved trails meander through and around the 95-acre park, offering much to do along the way. Hiking trails offer wonderful views of the river and the woods that surround it while paved trails serve as perfect walking paths for those with families or limited mobility. Children will love the expansive playground and huge playfield near the upper parking area and there is even a volleyball court for those feeling a little more active and competitive on their adventure.
As mentioned previously, the park is only a couple miles away from Happy Cow Creamery, a worthy destination in its own right. There is something nourishing about a farm where the animals are genuinely happy, just as the name suggests. Plus, their farm store may be small but there are plenty of gems to be found, not the least of which is their outstanding array of cheeses.
The whole area is more than worth the drive, especially if you have never seen the Reedy River at its most impressive. Cedar Falls Park provides a great opportunity to do something different with the family or on your own while taking in a great bit of Upstate history in the process.
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