Foothills Trail

Sumter National Forest, South Carolina

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Foothills Trail is a hiking trail in South Carolina and North Carolina. It is within Toxaway Gamelands, Ellicott Rock Wilderness, and Sumter National Forest. It is 28.6 miles long and begins at 3,137 feet altitude. Traveling the entire trail is 57.7 miles with a total elevation gain of 15,680 feet. Sloan Bridge and other parkings, Whitewater Falls Viewing Platform, Whitewater Falls Overlook, and another viewpoint, the Winchester Cemetery (elevation 2,123 feet) grave yard, Medlin Mountain (elevation 3,130 feet), and the Nantahala National Forest can be seen along the trail. There is also a camp site along the trail.
Distance: mi Elevation: ft
Foothills Trail is a hiking trail in South Carolina and North Carolina. It is within Toxaway Gamelands, Ellicott Rock Wilderness, and Sumter National Forest. It is 28.6 miles long and begins at 3,137 feet altitude. Traveling the entire trail is 57.7 miles with a total elevation gain of 15,680 feet. Sloan Bridge and other parkings, Whitewater Falls Viewing Platform, Whitewater Falls Overlook, and another viewpoint, the Winchester Cemetery (elevation 2,123 feet) grave yard, Medlin Mountain (elevation 3,130 feet), and the Nantahala National Forest can be seen along the trail. There is also a camp site along the trail. This trail connects with the following: Station Mountain Road, Foothills Trail, Sloan Bridge to Whitewater Falls and Round Mountain Loop Trail.
Activity Type: Backpacking, Hiking, Trail Running, Walking
Nearby City: Sumter National Forest
Distance: 28.6
Elevation Gain: 15,680 feet
Trailhead Elevation: 3,137 feet
Top Elevation: 3,253 feet
Driving Directions: Directions to Foothills Trail
Parks: Ellicott Rock Wilderness
Elevation Min/Max: 1133/3253 ft
Elevation Start/End: 3137/3164 ft
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100 Classic Hikes in North Carolina

100 Classic Hikes in North Carolina

The Foothills Trail was conceived in the early 1970s as a way to link existing trails along the Carolinas’ border to create one long ramble, from Table Rock State Park on the northeast to Oconee State Park on the southwest. The result is a 76-mile hike that passes through seven state parks and two national forests and takes in ten significant waterfalls.

It’s a good weeklong backpack trip or, if approached by section, can be consumed in day trips. The governing Foothills Trail Conference has divided the trail into thirteen sections ranging in length from 1.4 miles to 16.4 miles. One of the more popular sections is A8, which takes in the spectacular Upper Falls, a 411-foot drop promoted as the highest waterfall east of the Rocky Mountains.

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Hiking South Carolina

Hiking South Carolina

A challenging three-day journey around the north end of Lake Jocassee. Scenic waterfalls, steep-sided river gorges, lush vegetation, and solitude are among the attractions of the Jocassee Gorges. The Blue Ridge Escarpment, called the Blue Wall by the Cherokees, jags its way across the area, creating a land of waterfalls and river gorges as streams from the north plunge over the escarpment in their rush to Lake Jocassee and lower-lying lands in South Carolina.

The Jocassee Gorges receive abundant rainfall (more than 80 inches annually in some areas), and they offer great biodiversity, including a host of rare mosses and ferns, the endemic and rare Oconee bell, the rare showy orchis, and many other wildflower species.

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Hiking South Carolina

Hiking South Carolina

A long 3-day backpacking trip, offering waterfalls and the majestic beauty of the Whitewater and Chattooga rivers. This segment of the Foothills Trail is described east to west, beginning at the northeastern Bad Creek Trailhead. There are advantages and disadvantages to going in either direction.

The east-to-west route involves an 1,100-foot ascent to the top of Upper Whitewater Falls in the first 2.5 miles of the hike. Much of the rest of the hike, however, is a long, gradual, 1,400-foot descent, with numerous ups and downs along the way. The east-to-west route can be eased by beginning at the parking lot for Upper Whitewater Falls, but there is great beauty in the section along the Whitewater River that would be bypassed. The west-to-east route involves a long ascent, followed by a short, steep descent.

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Long Trails of the Southeast

Long Trails of the Southeast

This slice of the Foothills Trail is composed of several diverse landscapes. Leave Burrells Ford and ascend Medlin Mountain on the edge of the Ellicott Rock Wilderness. The Medlin Mountain section of the Foothills Trail is part of an excellent loop within the Ellicott Wilderness, so it can be somewhat busy. Crest Medlin Mountain and descend into the rugged East Fork Chattooga River Valley, with its waterfalls choked in dense woods and rhododendron, to meet the highway. Here, trail traffic slackens considerably as the trail crosses quiet Chattooga Ridge and enters North Carolina near Round Mountain, which offers good high-country camping.

Work around the side of Grassy Knob and gain views before toiling on a rough path to reach Whitewater Gorge. Your entrance begins with the roar of Whitewater Falls, then gets even more raucous deep in the gorge, with its rugged array of big boulders, cascades, and tall trees. The trail winds along the steep sides of the gorge before opening up in “The Hemlocks,” a shady wooded flat where a homesite once stood. Here, a side trail leads right, to the Bad Creek Access, as well as an old growth forest along Coon Branch.

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Recent Trail Reviews

5/23/2008
0

Great trip! We did it in May, so the foliage obscured any mountaintop views, but the water scenery was amazing. Several waterfalls and rivers provided a ton of great pictures. The trail was strenuous in places with several long, steep ascents and equally long, steep descents. Bring an extra set of lungs and legs! The campsites and water sources are plentiful and high in quality, but always plan carefully. The only reason I gave it four stars is due to the numerous blowdowns and deadfalls which obscured the trail. Some serious maintenance is required here. Otherwise, it was an amazing trip which I would gladly repeat.


3/26/2007
0

I really enjoyed this section of trail! The climb to Upper Whitewater is a little tough, but not unbearable. The Foothills Trail book will tell you about a camping site along a spur trail between the falls and Sloan Bridge...not a great idea to go there. The campsite is fine, but you have to walk a bit out of your way to get there, and adding extra mileage is always a little frustrating. Great section of trail though!


10/11/2005
0

Good moderate trail with very few people there while we were there.


8/18/2000
0

There are a few step descents and ascents on this section of the Foothills trail. The trail meets Lake Jocassee only two times, but there is an opportunity to swim at both locations. The second time the trail meets the lake, there is a waterfall that can be reached (the top) via a trail. The trail also crosses the river leading into the lake on a large bridge.



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May 2018