Perhaps no other trail in South Carolina provides such an extraordinary backcountry experience as the difficult. Foothills Trail in the northwest corner of the state. Although 80 miles long, only the first 28 miles of the Foothills Trail from Oconee State Park to Upper Whitewater Falls was designated a National Recreation Trail in 1979. By snaking along the Blue Ridge Escarpment, this trail and its many connectors provide almost 200 miles of hiking, most of it the rugged Appalachian greenbelt variety. The trail is accessible only to hikers, although vehicular access is available to many points along the main trail which, depending where you start, is either 80 or 85 miles long. Even so, considering numerous spur trails and connectors, an ambitious backpacker could hike the backcountry for more than a week.
This trail includes spur and loop trails linking Oconee State Park with Table Rock State Park via Whitewater Falls (the highest waterfall in the east). A detailed guide for the trail is for sale at the Stumphouse Ranger Station on Hwy. 28. A free brochure is also available from Duke Power's Oconee Nuclear Station.
The areas surrounding the trail vary widely from beautiful state parks (Oconee and Table Rock) to National Forest lands (Whitewater Falls) to Duke Power Crescent Land. A variety of other recreational opportunities exist in the area, from camping in the forest and State parks, to fishing and swimming on the rivers and lakes.
The Foothills Trail runs through four distinct boundary areas (national forest, wild and scenic river, wilderness, and state park) so camping regulations vary for different segments. Primitive camping is allowed at various places along the trail and there are campsites available at Burrell's Ford Campground, Cherry Hill Recreation Area, and other nearby state parks. Services are available at Walhalla, Seneca and Clemson.
Directions: From Walhalla, Take Hwy. 28 north to 107 then north of the Ranger Station for about 10 miles. You will arrive at Winding Stairs Road. At the parking pull of, enter the trail at the stairs (to go east) or across the highway (to go west). Many access points to this trail exist.
Distance: about 100 miles
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Sumter National Forest, South Carolina
Review by Wildernet Copyright © 2010 Wildernet.com all rights reserved.
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