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. Starting with the 1.2 mile
Foothills Access Trail in Oconee State Park, only the
first 28 miles of the Foothills Trail from the 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.
The National Recreation Trail portion is 28 miles long one way,
although the portion from Oconee State Park to Table Rock State Park
(the entire Foothills Trail) is approximately 80 miles
To the southern trailhead: From Walhalla, drive northwest on SC 28 for
8.4 miles and bear right onto SC 107. The entrance to
Oconee State Park is 2.5 miles on the right. After the Fee Station
turn right and drive to a small parking area just beyond the entrance
to Cabin Area 14-20. The trailhead for the Foothills Access Trail is at the Foothills Trail sign.
To the northern trailhead: From
the junction of SC28 and SC 11 at Walhalla, drive north on SC 11 north
for approximately 13 miles and turn left onto SC 130. Drive 10.5 and
enter North Carolina. Watch for a sign directing you to Whitewater
Falls and turn right to the parking area. From the restroom area, go
south on a spur trail to the Foothills Trails and turn right.
There are several access points on
SC 107, including the Sloan Picnic Area, and off SC 107 at Burrell’s
Ford Campground on Forest Service Road 708.
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.
Contact the Foothills Trail
Conference, P.O. Box 3041, Greenville, SC 29602,
Park, 624 State Park Road, Mountain Rest, SC, 29664,