From US 64 in Highlands, head east on Horse Cove Road (Main Street) and descend into Horse Cove. Horse Cove Road ends at 4.55 miles where Whiteside Cove Road (SR 1606) turns left and Bull Pen Road (FR 1178) goes straight. Go straight on the unpaved Bull Pen Road. At 3 miles, you’ll come to a bridge over the Chattooga River. Park on the left before crossing the bridge. If there isn’t room, you’ll have to turn around and go back up the hill to the wide spot and park there. Parking is not allowed along the side of the road near the bridge. Potholes Falls is directly under the bridge.
If you’ve never been to this spot on the Chattooga River, you may wonder how a 10-foot waterfall can receive such high beauty and photo ratings. In fact, I came close to giving it a beauty rating of 8 and a photo rating of 10. No, it’s not high, but it’s really cool. You can view and photograph it easily from the bridge. But to take full advantage of the photo opportunities, you’ll want to climb down to river level. Cross the bridge and take the scramble path on the right. Don’t take the one right by the bridge. Go a few feet beyond the bridge and take the second one.
The climb to the base requires some scrambling and rhododendron grabbing, plus some rockhopping once you get down. You can also reach the top of the falls, which requires only a short and easy walk down from the parking area. I recommend checking out both spots if you’re up to it. You’ll have a great view of the bridge from above the falls. Called Iron Bridge or Bull Pen Bridge by locals, it’s a popular landmark.
A hiking trail leads upstream from the parking area. It follows the river-right side and leads to an upper trailhead on Whiteside Cove Road. The trail passes several scenic cascades but no real waterfalls. You’ll see a neat section of the river called the Narrows, where the river squeezes between rocks, but no waterfalls are there. The trail crosses Norton Mill Creek on a scenic metal footbridge. One reference I have says the small cascades here are called Norton Mill Creek Falls, but that’s really stretching the definition of a waterfall.