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Foothills Trail (SC), March 16-18, 2008
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Shawn Basil
(Bearpaw) - F

Locale: Southeast
Foothills Trail (SC), March 16-18, 2008 on 03/23/2008 12:50:43 MDT Print View

It’s sometimes amazing to me how much plans can change. Originally, I had planned to spend the full 9 days of Spring Break thru-hiking the Bartram Trail in Georgia and North Carolina. But in dealing with major weather systems and changing goals and interests, I section hiked the first 30 miles of the Foothills Trail (in South and North Carolina) instead.

I began the walk early in the afternoon sun on Sunday, March 16, at Oconee State Park, after leaving my truck at Table Rock State Park on the other end of the trail.

Oconee Trailhead

The Foothills Trail proved to offer incredibly gentle grades, making 800-foot ascents pass by with little more effort than a level walk. I attribute this to excellent route selection and impressive efforts from trail builders in side-hill cuts, sometimes through thick rhododendron growth.

Sidehill through rhododendron

The trail itself crossed SC-107 several times in its first several miles, but eventually it settled alongside the Chattooga River.


I found a number of excellent campsites along the way the first day, but eventually settled in alongside the Chattooga on a gravel bar for a camp underneath the sky and stars. My first day of 11 ½ miles was behind me.

Cowboy Camp

That night, I suffered from a significant migraine headache that kept me up from 3 am until about 4:30. I also had to contend with some pretty significant chafing to my hips. I can only figure this happened due to weight I have lost combined with my shorts’ waistband and belt sliding under my hip belt. I have never before had this issue and it caught me by surprise. However, choosing to sleep in until 8:30 Monday morning helped me rest up for a better day.

I headed out around 10 am and enjoyed lunch at the base of King Creek Falls, an incredible cascade which offered fantastic energy from the wind, mist and chill it offered in the Springtime warmth.

King Creek Falls
King Creek Falls


The afternoon included a surprisingly easy 1200-foot ascent over Medlin Mountain. While the views atop will be gone in a few weeks when the trees bloom again, they were appreciated very much.

A 5 o’clock arrival (after about 12 miles) left me with plenty of time to enjoy camp that evening.

Lunar Solo

The next day dawned with a feeling of dread however. The sun of Sunday and scattered clouds of Monday gave way to heavy overcast and occasional mist. My hips were still quite sore, and as I hiked, I saw NO wildlife any where, a sure sign that a heavy weather system was inbound. At this point, I decided I should consider hitchhiking out to my truck once I reached NC-281 near Whitewater Falls.

I begin an ascent up Round Mountain, this time a bit steeper than previous days, but still mellower than most portions of the AT. Near the summit, I crossed into North Carolina.


Just past the border, I encountered the remains of an old lean-to some one had built.


As I continued east, I enjoyed a series of benches, some of which offered excellent views down to Lake Jocassee.

Lake Jocassee

Finally, I reached the road crossing at NC-281 and I continued on the .8 miles to the viewing platform at Whitewater Falls, a 411-foot beauty that should not be missed.

Whitewater Falls

The mist had turned to light rain at this point, and definitely decided to spend the rest of my Spring Break enjoying myself, away from the severe weather which was to descend on the region. I walked the ½-mile paved walkway back to NC-281 and stuck out my thumb. 45 minutes later, I caught the first of two rides that shuttled me back to my truck and headed home.

For a much more detailed account with more pictures, you can see my trail journal here:

Bill Reynolds
(billreyn1) - M

Locale: North East Georgia Mountains
Foothills Trail on 03/23/2008 14:11:23 MDT Print View

Great pics and a great trail. I've sectioned hiked most of it but hope to thru hike it this Summer. Too bad the weather came in on you. You would've enjoyed Hilliard Falls and Laurel Creek Falls.

Matt Brodhead
(mattbrodhead) - F

Locale: Michigan
Foothills Trail (SC), March 16-18, 2008 on 03/23/2008 14:58:38 MDT Print View

Nice waterfalls! Sounds like a great trip.

Shawn Basil
(Bearpaw) - F

Locale: Southeast
Foothills Trail (SC), March 16-18, 2008 on 03/23/2008 15:53:31 MDT Print View

I intend to return and finish it when summer vacation begins in late May. I'll also probably do the Bartram Trail at that time.


Locale: Greater Gila
re: foothills trail report on 03/23/2008 16:25:44 MDT Print View

Thanks for the trip report. I'm planning on doing a thru-hike in 3 weeks and it was great to see what condition part of the trail was in. That part of the country is so beautiful, and will be a nice change of scenery from where I am now, Atlanta. Enjoy your next hike.

Joe DeLoss
(GoingGrindel) - F

Locale: Sunny Central Ohio
Re: re: foothills trail report on 03/24/2008 06:30:51 MDT Print View

I've hiked this trail on two different occasions and have enjoyed it each time. The scenery is unbeatable for this side of the Mississippi.

The first time I hiked it, I used the guidebook put out by the Foothills Trail Conference. If you're looking for a good resource, I'd recommend it. The trail is not tough to follow, but it gave me some great information for side hikes and has good maps and elevation profiles.

Enjoy the hike!

Charles Reneau
(charley289) - F

Locale: Cascades and Oregon Coast Range
Just missed each other! on 03/24/2008 18:00:53 MDT Print View

Apparently, we were within miles of each other on last Sunday! I left the Oconee SP trailhead just hours before you did. What a coincidence. It's a shame you missed the rest of the trail- seeing Lake Jocassee at such low water levels was truly interesting.
Nice sleeping pad, by the way :)

Edited by charley289 on 03/24/2008 18:02:48 MDT.

Shawn Basil
(Bearpaw) - F

Locale: Southeast
Just missed you. on 03/30/2008 10:21:59 MDT Print View

Yes, the lady at Oconee mentioned someone else had gotten a permit that same morning when I got mine.

I figured if I didn't catch up the first day, I wasn't likely to see you. Still, I'm glad you made it through the nastier weather with no real issues. I was content to save the rest of the trip for better weather when I could have great views and less chafing. Of course for me, it's less than a five hour drive to hike the FHT again. So it's not such an issue.

Congratulations on your hike.


Edited by Bearpaw on 03/30/2008 10:22:36 MDT.

John Paul Reid
(Reid) - F

Locale: SouthEast
FTC on 03/12/2009 21:25:54 MDT Print View

I started at Table rock last april and made it too fish hatchery rd before I ditched. I am going back to finish it next weekend, this is definetly a winter trail.

Mike Feldman
(harpin) - F
Foothills trail 2009-govt retirement celebration on 03/20/2009 08:59:14 MDT Print View

Have small w/shuttle help from Foothills trail guru Heyward Douglas begin early Monday a.m. 3/30/09 we are covering leisuely 33 mile section of FT also w/4.5 mile spur trail( round trip) first day( Eastatoe Gorge Narrows n back)end early a.m. Thursday, 4/2 at Whitewater Falls! Looks from weather reports low 20s to low 30s at night, with possibly little snow. With weather and scenery 37 miles mainly Monday, Tuesday, Wed, will be for our little group, perfect. Oh Tuesday nite(on leave)3/31 I retire from 23.5 year federal law enforcement career, a great last field day, sort of speak.