Foothills Trail Rocky Bottom to Jones Gap State Park

Rocky Bottom, South Carolina

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This challenging and long parcel of the Foothills Trail offers many rewards to those who traverse it. Leave Rocky Bottom and begin the ascent of Sassafras Mountain, highest point in South Carolina. Pass by a large rock house to reach Chimneytop Gap. Keep climbing to make Sassafras Mountain and some views. Here, the Foothills Trail splits. The traditional route leaves south for Table Rock State Park, 9 miles distant. The alternative route, which this guidebook follows, stays in the high country, tracing the North Carolina–South Carolina state line along the Blue Ridge. Top out on pine-studded Slicking Mountain and leave the state line at Gum Gap, then enter Mountain Bridge Wilderness Area, which encompasses portions of South Carolina’s Caesars Head and Jones Gap State Parks. Descend into the perched Matthews Creek valley, nearing Raven Cliff Falls. Gain views from very edge of the Blue Ridge before descending into the Middle Saluda River watershed, which some argue to be the most beautiful in the Palmetto State. (They will get no argument from me.) Pass more waterfalls along an historic toll road built in the 1850s before reaching trail’s end at Jones Gap State Park.
Long Trails of the Southeast

DESCRIPTION FROM:

Long Trails of the Southeast

by Johnny Molloy (Menasha Ridge Press)

This challenging and long parcel of the Foothills Trail offers many rewards to those who traverse it. Leave Rocky Bottom and begin the ascent of Sassafras Mountain, highest point in South Carolina. Pass by a large rock house to reach Chimneytop Gap. Keep climbing to make Sassafras Mountain and some views. Here, the Foothills Trail splits. The traditional route leaves south for Table Rock State Park, 9 miles distant. The alternative route, which this guidebook follows, stays in the high country, tracing the North Carolina–South Carolina state line along the Blue Ridge.

Top out on pine-studded Slicking Mountain and leave the state line at Gum Gap, then enter Mountain Bridge Wilderness Area, which encompasses portions of South Carolina’s Caesars Head and Jones Gap State Parks. Descend into the perched Matthews Creek valley, nearing Raven Cliff Falls. Gain views from very edge of the Blue Ridge before descending into the Middle Saluda River watershed, which some argue to be the most beautiful in the Palmetto State. (They will get no argument from me.) Pass more waterfalls along an historic toll road built in the 1850s before reaching trail’s end at Jones Gap State Park.

©  Johnny Molloy/Menasha Ridge Press. All Rights Reserved.

Activity Type: Hiking
Nearby City: Rocky Bottom
Distance: 24.4
Trail Type: Shuttle
Skill Level: Difficult
Season: Year-round; best during late spring, early summer, and fall
Trailhead Elevation: 1,620 feet
Top Elevation: 3,554 feet
Driving Directions: Directions to Foothills Trail: Rocky Bottom to Jones Gap State Park

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May 2018