National Recreation Trail


(Oconee County)


Perhaps no other trail in South Carolina provides such anPicure of Trail 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.

Length: 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.

Difficulty: Moderate to Strenuous

Dog Friendly: Yes

Fees: Parking/Entrance to State Parks and U.S. Forest Service parking area at Whitewater Falls

Directions: 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.

Camping: 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.

Information: Foothills Trail Conference, P.O. Box 3041, Greenville, SC 29602 / (864) 467-9537

Oconee State Park, 624 State Park Road, Mountain Rest, SC 29664 / (864) 638-5353


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 South Carolina State Trails Program
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Updated: August 8, 2006
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