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 [email protected]  View or download our 2021 Trail Maintenance Schedule

Foothills Trail Conservancy 2021 Outings

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 9.5-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. Due to Covid-19 this hike is limited to 12 people.  8:30 am – 4:30 pm

Saturday, February 20 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, 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. Due to Covid-19 these hikes are limited to 12 people.  1:30 pm – 3:30 pm

Saturday, March 20  — Oconee Bells at Devils Fork State Park. Join fellow FTC members to celebrate the Jocassee Gorges’ most famous harbinger of spring, the flower of the rare and beautiful Oconee Bell, at Devils Fork State Park on Lake Jocassee in northern Oconee County. The Friends of Jocassee public event, BellFest, has been cancelled due to Covid-19, but you may enjoy the blooming flowers on your own. The highlight of this outing is a 1-mile wildflower walk on the Oconee Bell Trail with markers that identify plants along the trail ( a brochure is also available ). There are places along the Oconee Bell Trail that are conveniently set up for photography to limit trampling of the plants. Please be mindful of others on the trail and practice social distancing.  9:00 am – 12:00 pm.

Saturday, March 20Hilliard Falls Hike/ Jocassee Boat Tour. Join Rocky Nation, FTC Board member on a scenic boat tour and rewarding hike. For those section hikers that need to accomplish the less-accessible parts of the Jocassee Gorges, this is the way to do a portion of it – from the Horsepasture River bridge to Hilliard Falls to Bad Creek– a 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 12 people.  9:00 am –  4:30 pm.

Saturday, March 27  —  Geology Hike.  Join FTC Board Member and retired 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 SCDNR personnel 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 beautiful new publication. This hike will take place at Table Rock State Park. Meet at the Trailhead / Nature Center parking area at 9:00 am. Bring snacks, lunch, water, appropriate clothing and footwear. Due to Covid-19 this hike is limited to 12 people. 9:00 am – 2:00 pm.

Saturday, April 10 FTC Spring Picnic . The 2021 Foothills Trail Conservancy 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.  Social distancing will be observed and masks will be required in the shelter. The FTC will individually provide cups of ice. We ask that members bring a meal and drinks for themselves or their group. Following the meal a presentation will be given. The presentation will be described when the announcement is emailed to the membership. There is no entrance fee to the park. 2:00 pm – 6:00 pm.

Saturday, April 24 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!  Social distancing will be practiced and masks are recommended. Due to Covid-19 this hike will be limited to 12 people.

Saturday, May 8 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 at Sassafras by 8:30 ). Bring water, lunch and/or a snack, appropriate clothing and footwear. Camera and binoculars are recommended. Due to Covid-19 this hike will be limited to 12 people.

CANCELLED – Saturday, May 15 Rainbow Falls at Gorges State Park. Join Steve Pagano, retired 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. Due to Covid-19 this hike will be limited to 12 people.  9:30 am – 2:30 pm.

Saturday, June 5 — National Trails Day is June 5.  Instead of led hikes the FTC will have a booth at the Nature Center / Trailhead parking area at Table Rock State Park.  Information about the Foothills Trail ( including our Guidebooks and Map ), how and why to join the Conservancy,  maintenance volunteer opportunities, backpacking on the Trail, and other events throughout the year will be available.  The booth will be open from 9:00 am to 3:00 pm. Come by and help answer questions and support the Conservancy in its effort to make the public aware of our wonderful trail and other trails in the area.

Saturday, August 21 –  Big Bend Trail.  Join Andrew Gleason, FTC Board member and Trail Captain, on a 4.3-mile+ hike beginning at Big Bend Rd. After reaching the river, the hike will proceed along the Chattooga ( wading is optional ) to the Big Bend Trail and up to Cherry Hill campground.  Three newly rebuilt bridges will be crossed along the way  This is a 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. A camera is recommended.  9:30 am – 2:30 pm.

Saturday, September 11–   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 3 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 8:00 a.m. Bring snacks, lunch, water and appropriate footwear and clothing.  There is a charge of $55 per person, to be paid at the time of registration by calling Jocassee Lake Tours at 864-280-5501. This is limited to 14 people.  Return to the dock ca. 2:00 p.m.

Saturday, September 18 Postponed until October 16th due to a cloudy/rainy forecast –  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 5:30 pm to carpool, OR you may wish to get to Sassafras earlier and take in the sunset ! !  5:30 pm – 9:00 pm.

Saturday, October 9Ellicott Rock  –  Join ( Hike leader to be announced ), 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 am2:30 pm.

Friday – Sunday , Nov 5 – 7  —  FTC Annual Meeting at Table Rock State Park. A variety of hikes of various lengths will be offered on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.

CANCELLED – Saturday, December 4  — 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 will probably be necessary. Meeting time to be announced.

For more information, email [email protected]