Foothills Trail Conference 2017 Outings
Saturday, January 21 — Sassafras Mountain Astronomy Outing and Night Hike – Join knowledgeable local astronomers at the peak of Sassafras Mountain for some superb viewing of the planets and constellations. The clearing of trees on the summit has produced a spot that is excellent for viewing hawk migration AND astronomical observation! Binoculars and telescopes and a headlamp or flashlight are highly recommended, and a chair and blanket might be helpful. When everyone has had their quota of star watching, those who want to may hike with headlamps down to Chimneytop Gap, with the possibility of encountering an owl or two. Meet at Holly Springs Country Store at 5:00 to carpool, OR you may wish to get to Sassafras earlier and take in the sunset!
Saturday, February 18 — Sassafras to Table Rock Winter Views. Join Heyward Douglass, FTC Executive Director, on one of the most spectacular sections of the Foothills Trail. In winter, with foliage gone, the enormous boulders below Pinnacle Mountain and Table Rock can be fully appreciated, and the views from Drawbar Cliffs and Pinnacle Overlook (also called Bald Knob) are incomparable. This 9-mile hike is strenuous because of its length and the fact that it descends 2,500 ft. from Pinnacle Mountain. It will require a shuttle, so meet at Table Rock Nature Center parking lot at 8:30 a.m. Bring lunch, snacks, water, appropriate clothing and footwear, and consider bringing hiking poles or a hiking stick. A camera is recommended. After the hike, those who want to may slip over to Aunt Sue’s for hot chocolate ! ! Depending on the status of fire recovery and rehab efforts, this hike may have to be modified somewhat.
Saturday, March 11 — Roundtop Mountain Overlook. Join Rocky Nation, FTC Board member and Anderson University biology professor, on a strenuous 6-mile loop hike to a rock outcrop on Roundtop Mountain in Jocassee Gorges near Sassafras Mountain. Highlights include a look at the largest known stand of Carolina Hemlocks in the state and outstanding views along the Blue Ridge Escarpment into the heart of the Jocassee Gorges! This strenuous hike involves a cross-country portion with no trail, as well as a short stretch of rock-scrambling down a steep slope with the aid of fixed ropes. Wear sturdy boots and appropriate clothing, and bring plenty of water, snacks, and lunch. Meet at 8:30 am at Holly Springs Store to carpool – or – at 9:00 am at lower parking lot of Camp McCall ( 108 Ambassador Rd., Sunset, SC ).
Saturday, March 18 — BellFest at Devils Fork State Park. Join Foothills Trail Conference members, Master Naturalists and others to celebrate the Jocassee Gorges’ most famous harbinger of spring, the flower of the rare and beautiful Oconee Bell, during the forth annual BellFest at Devils Fork State Park on Lake Jocassee in northern Oconee County. Highlights of BellFest, to be held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., will include guided wildflower walks with Upstate Master Naturalists, live bluegrass music, guided boat tours of Lake Jocassee, guided woodland songbird tours, speakers, book signings by local authors, and good food. A silent auction is planned, in addition to many other events. BellFest is a spring benefit for Friends of Jocassee, a nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving, protecting and promoting the natural and cultural resources of the Jocassee area, and the recreational opportunities it provides. BellFest is sponsored by the Friends of Jocassee, Duke Energy, S.C. State Park Service, S.C. Department of Natural Resources, Upstate Master Naturalist Association, Clemson Extension Service and the Foothills Trail Conference. Admission to BellFest is free after paying the admission fee at Devils Fork State Park. For more information, call Devils Fork State Park at (864) 944-2639.
Saturday, April 1 – Lake Jocassee Boat Tour / Hike. For those section hikers that need to accomplish the less-accessible parts of the Jocassee Gorges, this is the way to do a part of it –from the Horsepasture River to Bad Creek. This 8.5 mile hike is challenging partly due to the mileage, as well as the terrain! Brooks Wade of Jocassee Lake Tours will captain the boat for the tour and dropoff at the Horsepasture River access! Bring lunch, snacks, water, and appropriate clothing and footwear. There is a charge of $ 20 per person, which will be paid at the time of the hike. Meet at Devils Fork boat ramp at 9:00 a.m. If you can help with an earlier placement of shuttle vehicles at Bad Creek, please indicate so when you register. This hike is limited to 14 people.
Saturday, April 15 — Whitewater Falls Wildflower Walk . Led by Gary Kauffman, U.S. Forest Service botanist and ecologist, this annual rite of spring always has an enormous display of wildflowers that are easily photographed. The walk will begin at the NC 281 parking lot and proceed slowly to the Whitewater River. After lunch at the bridge, a stroll to the Bad Creek parking lot, mostly easy, and much of it along the Whitewater River, will complete the 3.5-mile outing. Hikers may return to the parking area after lunch if they like. Meet at 9:30 a.m. at the gravel parking lot on NC 281 just south of the Forest Service parking lot. ( No parking fee will be required.) Bring lunch, snacks, water and appropriate clothing and footwear. You may want to bring a camera as well! Depending on the status of fire recovery and rehab efforts, this hike may have to be modified somewhat.
Saturday, April 22 — FTC Spring Picnic . The 2017 Foothills Trail Conference Spring Picnic will be held at Table Rock State Park, at the White Oak Shelter, beginning at 2 p.m. The meal will be served around 4:30 p.m. The FTC will provide drinks, hot dogs and hamburgers. We ask that members bring a potluck dish to share. Entrance fee to the park is waived for FTC members. Please notify the gate attendant. A presentation on the Birds of Ecuador and the Andes Moutains will be given.
Saturday, May 6 — Sassafras to Chimneytop Gap. Led by Greg Lucas, FTC board member, and Heyward Douglass, FTC executive director, this 2.7-mile, family-friendly hike will take in the superb views from the top of Sassafras Mountain (Elevation 3,553 feet) before descending to Chimneytop Gap. In addition to seeing new facilities at the top of Sassafras, spring wildflowers, such as pink lady’s slippers, and migrating birds will still be in abundance. Meet at Holly Springs Country Store at 9:00 a.m. to carpool to Sassafras Mountain. Bring water, lunch and/or a snack, appropriate clothing and footwear. Camera and binoculars are recommended.
Saturday, May 6 — Spring Family Overnight . This family-friendly overnight is intended for parents and their kids. Join Park Superintendent, Steve Pagano, on this one-night, backpack camping trip. The adventure will start at 9:00 am at the Grassy Ridge parking area in Gorges State Park. After a short, 3/4 mile hike to the Raymond Fisher Campsites, families will set up camp and settle in. Later that afternoon a hike to the Horsepasture River will allow seeing 3 waterfalls: Rainbow, Turtleback, and Drift. That evening there will be a campfire complete with makings for “ s’mores “, as well as good story telling. A campsite reservation will be part of the outing reservation. Each campsite is equipped with a tent pad, table, fire ring, lantern hook, and outhouse nearby. Each family will be responsible for their own gear and food. Space is limited to the first 16 people. For additional information please call Steve at (828) 966-9099 ext 201.
(Sunday) *, May 21 — Rainbow Falls at Gorges State Park. Join Steve Pagano, Gorges State Park manager and FTC board chairman, for a late-spring hike. The hike is 4 miles, moderate-to-strenuous, and traverses an area with beautiful mountaintop views, stream crossings, and three unique waterfalls (Drift, Turtleback, and Rainbow). Meet at Grassy Ridge parking lot at 9:30 a.m. Bring extra water, lunch and snacks, water shoes for stream crossings, hiking poles, and appropriate clothing and footwear. * Note : This is a Sunday hike!
Saturday, June 3 — National Trails Day Hike(s ). ( Open to the public ) Details TBA. Various hikes to different locations in Table Rock State Park. There will be a variety of hikes from easy to moderately strenuous which will be led by FTC members.
Saturday, August 12 – East Fork Trail to Burrell’s Ford. Join Becky Weedman, FTC Board member, on a 4.3-mile hike from the Wallhalla Fish Hatchery to Burrell’s Ford. After a brief tour of the fish hatchery, the hike will proceed along the East Fork River to the Chattooga River, then down the Chattooga River Trail to Burrell’s Ford. A short side trail will allow seeing Spoonauger Falls also. This is an easy-to-moderate hike. Meet at the Burrell’s Ford parking area at 9:30 am and shuttle to the Fish Hatchery. Bring plenty of water, snacks and lunch, and proper footwear and clothing.
Saturday, September 16 — Lower Whitewater Falls. Hike leader to be determined. This 400 foot waterfall is viewed from a platform that looks across the Whitewater gorge, and is considered by many to be just as beautiful as the upper falls. Beginning at the Bad Creek access, this 3.5-mile roundtrip hike is an easy-to-moderate one, and includes crossing the Whitewater River on two iron bridges. Bring water, lunch ( and/or snacks ), and proper footwear and clothing. A camera is recommended. Meet at 9:30 am at the Bad Creek access parking lot for the Foothills Trail, which is part of the Duke Energy Bad Creek Hydro facility located on SC Hwy 130 – 10 miles above SC Hwy 11.
Saturday, September 23 — Hawk Watch at Sassafras Mountain. Hike leader to-be- determined. Enjoy the view at the highest point in South Carolina while local birders identify and count the birds of prey as they soar past on their southward migration. Here is your chance to see hundreds (if not thousands) of hawks, falcons, and eagles from the premier viewing spot along the Appalachian Mountains at the peak of the Foothills Trail! The new observation platform being planned by DNR should be finished by then too. Meet at Holly Springs Country Store at 10:00 a.m. ( to carpool ) or the Sassafras Mountain parking lot at 10:30 a.m. Be sure to bring binoculars and your camera. Stay as long as you like for the hawk watching, and hiking on portions of the Foothills Trail nearby is optional. Bring water, snacks / lunch, and proper footwear and clothing. A lounge chair is also recommended.
Friday – Sunday, Oct 6 – 8 — A Fall Family Camping Adventure. Similar to the May camping adventure, but longer. Plans TBA.
Saturday, October 7 — Blue Ridge Railroad Tunnel and Issaqueena Falls. Join Richard Cain, retired teacher, local naturalist and historian, on an easy hike of about 5 miles on the historic Blue Ridge Railroad path. There will also be time to explore the Stumphouse Tunnel and to see Issaqueena Falls. Fall color should be starting up at this time too ! Meet at the Issaqueena Falls parking lot at 9:30 a.m. Bring lunch, snacks and plenty of water, with proper footwear and clothing.
Saturday, October 21 — Jumping Off Rock. Hike leader to-be-determined. This drive will take you to the best view of Lake Jocassee and the Jocassee Gorges area! Some fall color will also be present. Meet at Holly Springs Country Store at 9:00 a.m. to set up shuttle. Bring water, lunch ( and /or snacks ), and proper footwear and clothing. A camera and binoculars are highly recommended.
Friday – Sunday , Nov 3 – 5 — FTC Annual Meeting at Table Rock State Park.
Saturday, December 9 — Sassafras Mountain Astronomy Outing. Join knowledgeable local astronomers at the peak of Sassafras Mountain for some superb viewing of the constellations and planets. The clearing of trees on the summit has produced a spot that is excellent for viewing hawk migration AND astronomical observation! The new observation platform should be finished by this time. Binoculars and telescopes and a headlamp or flashlight are highly recommended, and a light chair might also be useful. Warm clothing may be necessary. Meeting time to be announced.
For more information, email [email protected] or visit www.foothillstrail.org.