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The Blue Ridge Escarpment

The Blue Ridge Escarpment is the area between the Blue Ridge Mountains and the Piedmont of South Carolina, North Carolina and Northeast Georgia where a sudden change in elevation occurs with a vertical drop from around 1,300 to 2,500 feet.

The northern area of the Escarpment general runs along the Eastern Continental Divide, which separates river systems that flow west and on to the Gulf of Mexico and east to the Atlantic.

The Blue Ridge Escarpment is the result of major tectonic uplift and then millions of years of old forest growth along with wind and water erosion forming all the streams and waterfalls of the area.


The Escarpment has a major impact on weather in the area and thus tourist! The areas highest rainfall is generally found in Sapphire Valley Resort’s neighbor of Brevard and Transylvania County.


Historic Escarpment rainfall occurred in 1916. On August 13, 1916 after severe flooding, which deluged the Toxaway River with 24 inches of rain in 24 hours, the dam, which had not been engineered with a water level control, gave way under the stress and sent more than 5 billion gallons of water crashing over the falls into South Carolina. The only casualty of this disaster was the death of a mule. Toxaway Falls still shows the trauma of the dam burst, its granite rock is exposed for a great distance down the falls. [Learn More at The History of Sapphire Valley Website]

Our area waterfalls are a product of the Escarpment including the much-visited Whitewater Falls which drops 411 feet in North Carolina and 400 feet in South Carolina, making it the highest waterfall east of the Rocky Mountains. 


Where to experience The Blue Ridge Escarpment

The escarpment is experienced every time you drive ‘off the mountain’ and down into these areas. It is particularly visible driving south on Highway 176 out of Rosman and 276 out of Brevard. The number of switchbacks required to negotiate the elevation drop can a bit scary!

Gorges State Park:
Gorges Start Park is only 15 minutes from Sapphire Valley is located on the edge of the escarpment before it cascades down to the South Carolina piedmont. “Gorges State Park is set in the midst of plunging waterfalls, rugged river gorges, sheer rock wall…” Source: https://www.ncparks.gov/gorges-state-park/home At Gorges you will be immersed in a high ‘rain forest’ of the upper escarpment.



The Overlook and Whiteside Mountain

The overlook on Highway 64 between Highlands and Cashiers provides a dramatic view and example of the escarpment falling off to the lower valleys and eventually the piedmont areas of North and South Carolina! It is a bit dangerous to view the lower valleys from this location (on the highway)  so we recommend a visit to Whiteside Mountain itself. There is a parking lot and a 2 mile loop trail that takes you to the top of the 750’ sheer rock face. For more information on the Whiteside Mountain Trail and videos, Visit [https://highsouthadventures.com/blue-ridge-high-south.html]


Blueridge Escarpment

Image: Courtesy Town of Highlands web cam. Whiteside Mountain

The Overlook and Whiteside Mountain

The overlook on Highway 64 between Highlands and Cashiers provides a dramatic view and example of the escarpment falling off to the lower valleys and eventually the piedmont areas of North and South Carolina! It is a bit dangerous to view the lower valleys from this location (on the highway) so we recommend a visit to Whiteside Mountain itself. There is a parking lot and a 2 mile loop trail that takes you to the top of the 750’ sheer rock face. For more information on the Whiteside Mountain Trail and videos, Visit [https://highsouthadventures.com/blue-ridge-high-south.html]

Caesar’s Head State Park


To see the escarpment’s dramatic elevation drop very up close and personal on the edge of the escarpment, a quick trip to Caesar’s Head State Park is a must! Ceasar’s Head is a 1 hour drive from Sapphire Valley and worth the trip through Brevard, North Carolina.  

High South Adventures

High South Adventures

HIgh South Adventures is part of The High South Media Network! Our other sites:
SapphireValleyResort.com
SkiSapphireValley.com
HighSouthRentals.com

The High South Media Network covers news, events, vacation rentals and recreational opportunities all around the Blue Ridge and Smoky Mountains.

Contact Us

P.O. Box 1386

Cashiers, NC 28717

828-619-0097