Please also note that while we all love our furry friends, dogs are not permitted on group hikes.
Saturday, January 16 — 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 ! !
Saturday, February 20 — Eastatoee Gorge and the Narrows
Join Bill Bostwick, DNR wildlife technician and former teacher, for a 5.5-mile (round-trip) hike to the Narrows of Eastatoee Gorge. On the 2.7 mile hike to the viewing platform for the Narrows, Bill will identify winter trees of the Eastatoee Creek Heritage Preserve, and discuss the situation with Eastern hemlocks affected by the hemlock woolly adelgid. Meet at 9:00 a.m. at Holly Springs Country Store ( to carpool ), or 9:30 a.m. at the Laurel Valley parking lot. Bring lunch, snacks, water, and appropriate clothing and footwear. A camera is recommended.
Saturday, March 19 — 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 third 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, 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, March 26 – Lake Jocassee Boat Hike/Tour
Brooks Wade of Jocassee Lake Tours will captain the boat for the drop-off, pick-up, and tour. Shuttle up, shuttle back, and pick your hike. Choose either the challenging 5.8-mile hike from the Canebrake Access to the Laurel Fork Access (which includes Heartbreak Ridge) or the bit less rigorous 3.9-mile hike from Rock Creek to the Laurel Fork Access. Each hike will include a leisurely 2-hour tour of Lake Jocassee on the return leg of the lake shuttle. There is a charge of $35 per person, which will be paid at the time of the hike. Meet at Devils Fork boat ramp at 9:00 a.m.
Saturday, April 16 — 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 U.S. Forest Service 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-mile outing. Hikers may return to the Upper Whitewater Falls parking area after lunch if they like. Meet at 9:30 a.m. at the Upper Whitewater Falls parking lot on NC 281. (U.S. Forest Service parking fee will be required.) Bring lunch, snacks, water and appropriate clothing and footwear. You may want to bring a camera as well!
Saturday, April 23 — FTC Spring Picnic
The 2016 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 backpacking in Sequoia National Park will be given.
Saturday,May 7 — 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 14 — Gorges Gratitude Day
This FREE family-friendly, fun day is from 10:00 a.m. to 7 p.m. Held annually at the Gorges State Park Visitor Center, the event includes exhibitors, food, special programs, and live music. The FREE event is proudly sponsored by the Friends of Gorges State Park. Hikes within the park, including to the Foothills Trail, are an option as well.
Saturday, 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.
Saturday, June 4 — 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 available in the park led by FTC members.
Saturday, August 13 ( may be a day earlier or later ) – Sassafras Mountain Astronomy Outing
Join knowledgeable local astronomers at the peak of Sassafras Mountain for some superb viewing of the constellations and the Perseid Meteor Shower. 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! Meeting time to be announced.
Saturday, September 17 — Waterfalls of the Auger Hole Road
Waterfalls of the Auger Hole Road. (Limited to 15 ) Join Steve Pagano, Gorges State Park manager, for a 2-mile, strenuous hike/bushwhack to three falls along the Auger Hole Road in the interior of Gorges State Park. The adventure will begin with a 4×4 ride down the Auger Hole Road from the Frozen Creek access near Rosman, N.C. You will then venture down to Double Drop, Maple Spring, and Auger Fork Falls. Meet at the Frozen Creek access parking lot at 9:30 a.m. (3 miles south of US 64). Bring water, lunch ( and/or snacks ), and proper footwear and clothing. A camera is recommended.
Saturday, September 24 — Hawk Watch at Sassafras Mountain
Join Tom Pray, a Master Naturalist and birder, 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 will probably be finished by then too. Meet at Holly Springs Country Store at 9:30 a.m. ( to carpool ) or the Sassafras Mountain parking lot at 10:00 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.
Saturday, October 1 — Rainbow Falls at Jones Gap
Hike leader to-be-determined. This hike will take you to the base of the Mountain Bridge Rainbow Falls, which plunges 80-plus feet in one straight, free-falling drop! The mottled rock face that surrounds the falls also adds considerable beauty and interest to the view. This 5-mile roundtrip hike is fairly steep with a 1,200-foot elevation gain and is strenuous. Meet at Jones Gap State Park at 9:30 a.m. Bring water, lunch ( and /or snacks ), and proper footwear and clothing. A camera is recommended.
Saturday, October 22 — 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. Meet at the Issaqueena Falls parking lot at 9:30 a.m. Bring lunch, snacks and plenty of water.
Friday – Sunday , Nov 4–6 — FTC Annual Meeting at Oconee State Park.
Saturday, December 10 (may be a day earlier or later) — Sassafras Mountain Astronomy Outing.
Join knowledgeable local astronomers at the peak of Sassafras Mountain for some superb viewing of the constellations and the Geminid Meteor Shower. 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! Warm clothing may be necessary. Meeting time to be announced
For more information, write firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.foothillstrail.org.