In the description of the location of Shunkawauken Falls are details you will never find anywhere else: “Falls may be viewed from the Food Lion parking lot.”
Named for a Native American Chief, Shunkawauken Falls stands at the very top of White Oak Mountain which looms over the town of Columbus, NC. The face of White Oak is almost a sheer 1500 foot drop from a small plateau at the top of the mountain. Horse Creek makes this drop with innumerable tumbles along the way but the major cascades are at the very top.
To find Shukawauken Falls, take I-26 West from Spartanburg toward Asheville. After you cross into NC, take the first exit, #67, to Columbus. Take NC 108 (not US 74) at the exit and proceed toward town. You will shortly see a Food Lion on your left. Pull in here and you will have a grand view of White Oak Mountain. Locate a large, white house at the top. Just below and to the right, you can see the waterfall.
Continue on NC 108 toward town a short distance to Houston Road. You’ll see Columbus Baptist Church on your left. Turn left onto Houston and continue for 0.5 miles to where Skyuka Road forks to the left. Take the right fork to stay on Houston. In 0.5 miles, you will find White Oak Mountain Road on your left. Turn here and continue up the twisty and steep road for 2.0 miles. The waterfall is roadside at that point. Continue past the waterfall, turn around and you will be able to use a small pullout on the right side just before the falls.
The first thing that strikes you about Shukawauken is that it appears to be more than 150’ as listed in the guides. Plus, there is another 50’ after Horse Creek crosses under the road. The cascade comes in 3 sections. The first is a small plunge off a “mushroom cap” rock ledge at the very top. Second comes the largest section probably 70-80 feet tall, sort of a combination steep tier and plunge. Thirdly is a smaller, similar combination cascade that brings Horse Creek down to the culvert and under the road. On the over side of the road is another 50’ set of drops and tumbles.
While it is easy to become enamored with the waterfall, don’t ignore the extraordinary views available from White Oak Mountain. This is such an easy waterfall to find and get to, save some time next time you’re buzzing up I-26 to Asheville to stop off in Columbus and see this beauty.