From the spring picnic and annual meeting to regular group outings and trail maintenance activities, there are a variety of events throughout the year just for members of the Foothills Trail Conservancy. Participants must be members of the Foothills Trail Conservancy or their guest. Notifications will be sent through the FTC’s online registration system. Please sign up to receive outing notification by providing your e-mail address to the Foothills Trail Conservancy mailing list on our Web site www.foothillstrail.org. Questions should be sent to FTC through the email address [email protected]. The number of registrants per hike is at the discretion of the hike leader and will sometimes be limited. Registration is available on a first-come, first-served basis. You will be asked to fill out an Acknowledgement of Risk form prior to your hike. The Foothills Trail Conservancy does not permit dogs on group hikes.
If you are interested in helping maintain the Foothills Trail view the schedule at the link below and email Maintenance Coordinator, Andrew Gleason at [email protected] View or download our 2020 Trail Maintenance Schedule
Foothills Trail Conservancy 2020 Outings
Participants must be members of the Foothills Trail Conservancy or their guest. Notifications will be sent through the FTC’s online registration system about 30 days prior to each hike. Please sign up to receive outing notifications by providing your e-mail address to the Foothills Trail Conservancy mailing list on our Web site www.foothillstrail.org. Questions should be sent to FTC through the email address [email protected]. The number of registrants per hike is at the discretion of the hike leader and will sometimes be limited. Registration is available on a first-come, first-serve basis. You will be asked to fill out an Acknowledgement of Risk form prior to your hike. The Foothills Trail Conservancy does not permit dogs on group hikes.
Saturday, January 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 9.5-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. Before the hike a short tour of the new observation tower will be possible. After the hike, those who want to may slip over to Aunt Sue’s for hot chocolate ! !
Saturday, February 15 — Virginia Hawkins Falls/Beech Bottom Falls – Join ( hike leader to-be-determined ) on an easy 2.5 mile hike to the tranquil Virginia Hawkins Falls located on Laurel Fork Creek. This 30-ft waterfall is named after long-time FTC Secretary, Virginia Hawkins. Meet at Holly Springs Country Store at 8:30 am to carpool, or at Laurel Valley parking area at 9:00 am. Bring snacks, water, appropriate clothing and footwear. A camera is recommended. 9:00 – 1:00 pm. Then drive up to Chimneytop Gap to hike down to Beechbottom Falls. (Hike leader to-be-determined.) This waterfall, which has gone by several names in the past, is at the end of a newly-constructed 1.5-mile trail courtesy of SCDNR. There is a new viewing platform as well, and it affords a great view of this 60-ft waterfall. A camera is recommended, of course. 1:30 – 3:30
Saturday, March 7 — Geology Hike. Join FTC Board Member and Furman Professor, Bill Ranson, on an informative hike to explore the geology of a portion of the Foothills Trail. Dr. Ranson has been collaborating with two SCDNR geologists to produce a Guide to the Geology of the Foothills Trail, and he will have information about how / when to obtain a copy of this new publication. Information about which part of the Trail will be explored and where and when to meet will be provided later. Bring snacks, lunch, water, appropriate clothing and footwear.
Saturday, March 14 — 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 sixth 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 Conservancy. 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 21 – Hilliard Falls Hike/ Jocassee Boat Tour. ( Hike leader to-be-determined ). 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 bridge to Hilliard Falls to Bad Creek– a somewhat strenuous 9.2-mile hike that will include the spur to Hilliard Falls. Brooks Wade of Jocassee Lake Tours will captain the boat for the tour, Bring lunch, snacks, water, and appropriate clothing and footwear. 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. A shuttle will be necessary earlier in order to leave vehicles at the Bad Creek parking lot. This hike is limited to 14 people.
Saturday, April 18 — FTC Spring Picnic . The 2020 Foothills Trail Conservancy Spring Picnic will be held at Gorges State Park, at the Whitepines 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. There is no entrance fee to the park. Following the meal a presentation will be given. The presentation will be described when the announcement is emailed to the membership.
Saturday, April 25 — Whitewater Falls Wildflower Walk . Led by Gary Kauffman, USFS 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 USFS parking lot and proceed slowly down 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 up to the parking area after lunch if they like. Meet at 9:00 a.m. at the USFS parking lot on NC 281 ( No parking fee will be required.) Bring lunch, snacks, water and appropriate clothing and footwear. You may want to bring a camera as well!
Saturday, May 9 — 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 the new tower at the top of Sassafras, spring wildflowers and migrating birds will still be in abundance. Meet at Holly Springs Country Store at 8:00 a.m. to carpool to Sassafras Mountain ( or be there by 8:30 ). Bring water, lunch and/or a snack, appropriate clothing and footwear. Camera and binoculars are recommended.
Saturday, May 16 — Rainbow Falls at Gorges State Park. Join Rob McGraw, Gorges State Park manager and FTC board member, 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 6 — National Trails Day Hike(s ).( Open to the public ) Details TBA. Various hikes to different locations on or near the Foothills Trail will take place. There will be a variety of hikes from easy to moderately strenuous which will be led by FTC members.
Saturday, August 15 – Big Bend Trail. Join Andrew Gleason, FTC Board member and Trail Captain, on a 4.3-mile+ hike from Cherry Hill campground to the Chattooga River. Three newly rebuilt bridges will be crossed along the way. After reaching the river, the hike will proceed to a couple of viewpoints along the Chattooga River, then return to Cherry Hill. This is an easy-to-moderate hike. Meet at the Cherry Hill Campground entrance at 9:30 am. Bring plenty of water, snacks and lunch, and proper footwear and clothing.
Saturday, September 5 – Lake Jocassee Tour, Hike, Swim. Join ( hike leader to-be-determined ), on a hike at the upper end of Lake Jocassee. The boat will proceed up the lake to Rock Creek, and the group will hike the Foothills Trail to Laurel Fork, a distance of about 5 miles.. On the return several waterfalls will be visited and an opportunity for some swimming and rock jumping ! Meet at the Devils Fork boat ramp at 9:00 a.m. Bring snacks, lunch, water and appropriate footwear and clothing. There is a charge of $45 per person, to be paid at the time of the hike. This is limited to 14 people. Return to the dock ca. 4:00 p.m.
Saturday, September 19 — Sassafras Mountain Astronomy Outing and Night Hike ——– Join knowledgeable local astronomers at the peak of Sassafras Mountain for some superb viewing of the planets, constellations, and satellites! The new observation platform 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, October 10 — Ellicott Rock – Join Rocky Nation, FTC Board Member and Anderson University professor, on a moderate hike of 7.2 miles to Ellicott Rock, which manages to be elusive to a good many hikers !! This historic landmark is a little tricky to find, but it is a very interesting situation and story. A camera is recommended. Meet at . at 9:00 a.m. at the Oconee Co. Library parking lot in Walhalla ( to carpool ), or on Bull Pen Rd at the Bad Creek Trail access parking area( there is a USFS kiosk at Fowler Cr. ) at 9:30. Bring snacks, lunch, and plenty to drink. 9:00 am – 2:30 pm.
Friday – Sunday , Nov 6 – 8 — FTC Annual Meeting at Oconee State Park.
Saturday, December 5 — Sassafras Mountain Astronomy Outing. Join knowledgeable local astronomers at the peak of Sassafras Mountain for some superb viewing of the constellations, planets, and satellites! The construction of the tower at the summit has produced a spot that is excellent for viewing hawk migration AND astronomical observation! The top of the tower provides a large, open, tremendous viewing area ! ! 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]