Foothills Trail, South Carolina

6:05 p.m. on January 16, 2015 (EST)
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So after much discussion we've decided to scrap plans for an Everglades trip and instead, brave the winter weather and hike a portion of the Foothills Trail in SC. Since the Foothills are at a lower elevation than much of the mountain of North GA or the AT, we're hoping for milder weather. 

For anyone who has experience on this trail, I'd love a little feedback.  

We plan to spend 2-3 nights on the trail and have a goal of roughly 25-30 miles but cannot decide on which section to tackle.  We were planning on starting at Table Rock but it seems as if trailheads are lacking midway through the trail leaving us nowhere to get off without either cutting our hike short or tacking on more miles than we have time for.  I'm also curious of the water situation in mid-February.  I know water is plentiful in the spring but wasnt sure if temps were low enough to freeze over any of the water sources in the winter. 

Either way, we're excited to get out in the woods for a few days.  We're warm blooded Floridians with limited (well, none really) winter hiking experience. 

Any tips from those familiar with this trail are appreciated!

~ Jamie

10:12 p.m. on January 16, 2015 (EST)
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Hi Jamie

I have hiked the Foothills trail. I would recommend the Jocassee Gorges section. Pronounced Joe-cassy.

Do you have the Foothills trail guide & map yet?

Water is not a problem, it rarely gets cold enough to freeze the fast flowing streams of the Blue Ridge Escarpment. You should bring a reliable stove though just in case.

Do not, however, underestimate the possibility of winter storms in this part of the Blue Ridge. Cold air masses originating at much higher elevations have been know to roll over the ridge (bringing cold wind, rain, sleet, snow,) and down the escarpment catching hikers unprepared. When this happens it's like being on a mountaintop. 

Edit: I wanted to ad some info. Here are a couple links.

http://www.learnnc.org/lp/editions/cede_jocassee/908 A short primer on Jocassee.

http://appvoices.org/2007/04/10/2758/ A primer on cold air damming.

8:38 p.m. on January 21, 2015 (EST)
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Thanks, Mike!

9:18 p.m. on January 21, 2015 (EST)
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I hope you have a great time where ever you go!

3:27 p.m. on February 1, 2015 (EST)
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Mike, we've decided to hike a 32 mile section encompassing the Jocassee Gorge region from Laurel Valley to Bad Creek Access.  We can't wait!  Will post a TR when we get back.  Thanks again for the tips and the educational lessons !

10:20 p.m. on February 1, 2015 (EST)
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Good for you!

I'm sure you will love it.

4:50 p.m. on February 4, 2015 (EST)
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where did you find the info on the foothills trail, jamie. i think that sounds alot like somewhere me and my brother may want to go.

9:16 a.m. on February 5, 2015 (EST)
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jp...this website has lots of useful information, although, I'll admit that I hate their maps. 

http://www.foothillstrail.org/

12:57 p.m. on February 8, 2015 (EST)
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There aren't really any good maps of the foothillls trail that I have found on the web, but the one available for purchase from the foothills organization is pretty detailed. I haven't bought the trail guide (prefer to have a little discovery in my trips) so can't help there. The Pisgah NF map from National Geographic also has a large portion of the trail on it. Most of the Table Rock through gorges area, but drops off to the west and south.

10:44 a.m. on February 13, 2015 (EST)
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Hi FlipNC,

The official Foothills Trail map & guide book are a very nice set to own if someone finds they like the area and wish to plan more trips.

I bought the set up front since I was planning a thru hike, but I think someone can do section hikes, and 180's using the information available online. Although, I agree with you that the web maps are not great.

Thanks for the info on the Pisgah NF map.

11:13 a.m. on February 15, 2015 (EST)
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Mike

In your opinion is the trail guide necessary to complete a thru hike? I am debating buying that for my thru this year. I usually tend to just go with maps, as I prefer to discover what is on the trail before reading about it. I waver back and forth on that because you might miss some something interesting without it...

There is another Nat. Geographic map that covers the rest of the trail. The NG maps don't replace the Foothills one because they don't have the details on access. The pocket profile from Foothills is really nice.

7:00 p.m. on February 15, 2015 (EST)
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FlipNC said:

Mike

In your opinion is the trail guide necessary to complete a thru hike? I am debating buying that for my thru this year. I usually tend to just go with maps, as I prefer to discover what is on the trail before reading about it. I waver back and forth on that because you might miss some something interesting without it...

There is another Nat. Geographic map that covers the rest of the trail. The NG maps don't replace the Foothills one because they don't have the details on access. The pocket profile from Foothills is really nice.

 Sure, I would think you can thru hike it without the guide book fairly well, especially for someone familiar with hiking marked trail systems.

There are a few nice spur trails with waterfalls & stuff, but I only did one of those myself because of time limits.

Thanks for the map & profile info.

September 17, 2019
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