Fulfill Your Hiking Dream! Here to help fellow hikers by offering wisdom, ideas, and lessons learned from a two-time AT North and South, Long Trail, Foothills Trail, Allegheny Trail, Colorado Trail, Florida Trail, Shenandoah Nat'l Park 500 miler completions. Former Ridgerunner, Author, and now Speaker
I have just come off an interesting adventure thru hiking
the Foothills Trail. This unique 77 mile long trail straddles the North
Carolina / South Carolina border in what could be called the foothills of mountains
that extend into the Nantahala region and the Smokies. The trail runs from Table
Rock State Park to Oconee State Park, both in South Carolina, with other spur
trails off this trail. It also
traverses the highest peak in South Carolina –
Sassafras Mountain. And for those looking for an even greater adventure, you
could begin at Table Rock on this trail, hike to the Chatooga Trail and from
there to the Bartram Trail all the way to the AT just north of NOC.
First off, in planning, etc., I highly recommend the
guidebook put out by the Foothills Trail Conference. They also have a map, but
I found it hard to read and rather useless. The guidebook, however is a handy
piece to have while you’re hiking. It is very thorough, contains maps and mini
maps of each section, and will guide you from point A to point B (though it is
only written in one direction – Table Rock to Oconee. I saw no advantage one
way or the other with starting at either point. But I liked starting at Table
Rock as I got the uphill climbs on bare rock out of the way and did not have to
read the guidebook backwards, which to me is bothersome). I carried the
guidebook the whole way and referred to it many times.
The Foothills Trail is abundant in water, waterfalls, established,
campsites, bridges, and steps. I was amazed at the trail work that has gone into
this. The trail leading uphill often had wooden steps built in. The intricate bridges
crossing the waterways were amazing. The trail is easy to follow using the
Stairs and Railings
white blazes and signage, and coupled with the guidebook, you can’t get lost.
I hiked this trail in early September and with that, it was humid
and warm. I was constantly wet. Probably the best time to hike this trail would
be spring, with the abundance of rhododendron and with better temperatures. I
did not see one person hiking this trail when I was out. In all I saw maybe six
people. A family on Sassafras, and two kids swimming near Toxaway. Other than
that, I was alone. I managed to dodge most of the thunderstorm activity though
I did have one all night rain. What I could not dodge was the thousand upon
thousands of spider webs, stretching even over vast logging roads (!). Since no
one had likely been on the trail for weeks, the spider webs were everywhere!
One cannot get squeamish then picking webs and spiders off glasses, gear, and
clothes. It came with the territory. I did end up with a hornet bite on day
four. It became infected when I got off, so be sure you do First Aid out there
and carry an adequate kit.
There is no resupply on this trail, so I carried food for
six days. It was pretty heavy, but I figured out where to put the food in my
pack so it worked out good. There is one place on the trail where you can dump
your garbage – at Whitewater Falls area (which the falls is seen by a side
trail). Since the weather was warm though I went with summer gear. Some stuff I
could have left home, like any kind of jacket, and rain gear. I just let the rain
cool me as I was constantly hot, sweaty, and yeah, smelly.
The great beauty and tame terrain of this trail make it a
nice adventure. Yes there are some steep areas, but not too bad. The campsites
are everywhere as is water. It makes for a simple but rewarding thru hike.