Laurel Fork Heritage Preserve/Wildlife Management Area

Property Location

Sunset, SC 29685

Latitude: 35.05  Longitude:-82.848
Acreage: 1361
County: Pickens
Game Zone: 1


Property Type: Heritage Preserve / WMA Other

Hours of Operation

The area is open during daylight hours year-round.


Activities / Facilities

Biking Primitive Camping Driving Equestrian Fishing Hunting Nature Viewing Hiking Important Bird Area

Property Description

Photograph of Virginia Hawk Falls

Laurel Fork Heritage Preserve covers 1,361 acres in Pickens County. This mountain property features cove hardwoods, upland mixed hardwoods, a stand of very large tulip poplars and pine ridges. The tract protects the headwaters of Laurel Fork creek but the property does not extend to the well-known Laurel Fork Falls which lies within the "Jocassee Gorges." Laurel Fork Heritage Preserve is bisected by the Foothills Trail, where backpacking and primitive camping are allowed. A small waterfall, Virginia Hawkins Falls, lies just off the Foothills Trail near the western boundary of the preserve. The preserve lies within the Jocassee Gorges, and some management is done in conjunction with Jocassee Gorges. Hunting is allowed in accordance with regulations for Game Zone 1 of the Franklin Gravely Wildlife Management Area. Fishing, with a valid SC Fishing license, is permitted, but most fishing opportunities are downstream of the preserve where Laurel Fork becomes a larger stream.

Jocassee Gorges roads that enter or border the preserve include Horsepasture, Canebreak, Laurel Fork and Standing Rock Road. Canebreak and Horsepastrue Roads are green-gated, which means they are open seasonally where they pass through the preserve. For current gate opening dates and special notices regarding the roads, please check the Jim Timmerman Natural Resource Area at Jocassee Gorges link. Motorized vehicles and ATVS are allowed when green-gated roads are open, as specified by regulation for the Jocassee Gorges. Horses and mountain bikes are allowed on all roads unless posted otherwise within the Jocassee Gorges. Only foot traffic is allowed on the Foothills Trail.

The preserve protects six species of regional or state concern. Of those, lettuce-leaf saxifrage requires moist rock and seepage slopes; bristle fern demands shaded crevices and grottoes in sandy or acidic rocks; and Dutchman's pipe grows in rich woods, coves and stream banks. Two uncommon mammalian inhabitants of the area are the Appalachian cottontail and the eastern woodrat.