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.
Foothills Trail Conservancy 2018 Outings
Saturday, January 27 — Chattooga Belle Farm Astronomy Outing ——– Join some knowledgeable local astronomers at Chattooga Belle Farm for some superb viewing of the planets, constellations, satellites, and perhaps the Int’l Space Station. Binoculars and telescopes and a headlamp or flashlight are highly recommended, and a chair and blanket might be necessary. Meet at 5:00 pm at the Long Creek Volunteer Fire Station at the corner of US76 and Damascus Church Rd. at Long Creek, SC. Chattooga Belle Farm is located about 1 mile down Damascus Church Rd. on the right.
Saturday, February 17 — 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, March 10 –— Lower Whitewater Falls . Join Rocky Nation, FTC Board member and Anderson University biology professor on a 3.5-mile hike that is an easy-to-moderate one. 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, the hike 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, March 17 — 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 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 24 – Petroglyph Hike. Join Gene Johnston, Master Naturalist, avid hiker, and petroglyph lover, on a hike to see the unique petroglyph site just below the Foothills Trail near Pinnacle Mtn. Gene will describe the recent archeological study about the petroglyphs that was conducted recently at this spot and nearby. Carpooling will be necessary due to the rough road leading to the beginning of the hike. The hike itself will only be about 15-20 minutes one-way. This will be limited to 15 people. Meet at the Holly Springs Country Store at 9am to carpool to the “trailhead”. Bring lunch, snacks, water and camera.
Saturday, April 7 – Lake Jocassee Boat Tour / Hike. 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 to Canebrake. This 7.8-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, dropoff at the Horsepasture River access, and pickup at the Canebrake access ! 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. This hike is limited to 14 people.
Saturday, April 14 — FTC Spring Picnic . The 2018 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. 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. Following the meal a presentation will be given. The presentation will be described when the announcement is emailed to the membership.
Saturday, April 21 — 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 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 5 — 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 ( or near it ! ) of Sassafras Mountain (Elevation 3,553 feet) before descending to Chimneytop Gap. In addition to seeing the 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 19 — 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 2 — 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 18 – 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. 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 at 9:30 am. Bring plenty of water, snacks and lunch, and proper footwear and clothing.
Saturday, September 1 – Lake Jocassee Tour, Hike, Swim. Join Dan Whitten, FTC Board member and Master Naturalist, 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. A ripe Pawpaw might be found along the way. 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 15 — 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 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, September 22 — 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 and umbrella are also recommended.
Saturday, October 6 – Long Creek Falls Hike and Picnic. Join Becky Gilstrap, FTC Board member and Trail Captain, on an easy-to-moderate 3-mile hike to the beautiful Long Creek Falls, a 50-ft falls which empties into the Chattooga River. Meet at 8:30 a.m. at the Long Creek Fire Station at the corner of US76 and Damascus Church Rd. at Long Creek, SC. Bring water and snacks, and proper footwear and clothing. A camera is recommended. Following the hike the group will gather at Chattooga Belle Farm for a lunch / picnic. Hikers may bring their own picnic or order food from Belle’s Bistro at CBF.
Saturday, October 13 – 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 , November 2 – 4 – FTC Annual Meeting at Oconee State Park. Registration information, schedule & details to come!
Saturday, December 8 — 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 will 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.