Foothills National Recreation Trail: Rocky Bottom to Table Rock State Park is a 12.5 mile lightly trafficked point-to-point trail located near Pickens, SC that features a great forest setting and is rated as difficult. The trail is primarily used for hiking, trail running, camping, and backpacking and is accessible year-round.
Directions from Walhalla: Take Hwy. 28 north to 107 then north of the Ranger Station for about 10 miles. You will arrive at Winding Stairs Road. At the parking pull of, enter the trail at the stairs (to go east) or across the highway (to go west). Many access points to this trail exist.
Hiked the full length in sections starting at Oconee County State Park and ending at Table Rock State Park beginning the first Tuesday in March and once a week until April 29. We planned our directions based on difficulty noted in official FT guide book which you can pick up at any of the state parks along Rt. 11. There were 4 of us, a few had hiked the trails before. We joined the Foothills Trail Conference so we could register as having completed the trail. We shuttled using our cars and a boat to Lake Jocassee trail heads. Great views. Saw spring arrive all along trail. Amazing wildflowers and waterfalls. Cooler temps. Rescheduled once due to rain. All experienced women hikers ranging in age from 60 to 67. We found the section distances longer by sometimes 2 or 3 miles than noted in the guide and were told this is due to some rerouting of the trail over the years. Lots of water crossings and some very steep ascents and descents but doable. Best to go online and contact someone for trail conditions at Foothills Trail Conference. Members maintain the trail . We had a very challenging experience the day after bad weather in early March from Cheohee to Burrell's Ford with over 50 trail obstructions/washouts. We reported it and the amazing volunteers cleared it all by the weekend. Other than that the trail was excellently maintained. Possible bear, wild hogs, timber rattlers and copperheads along this trail.. Are planning to repeat in the future. I have hiked or backpacked in all 50 states and this is one of the best hikes on the east coast. If out of state, take a few days to see local towns, Clemsn and Greenville. Clemson has a beautiful botanical garden, Greenville had a beautiful city park along the Swamp Rabbit Trail, a paved trail, connecting it to Lake Conestee Park at one end and Travelers Rest at the other and there is also great hiking along the nearby Blue Ride Parkway.
Adding to my earlier post: we did not carry 6 days of food...arranged to re supply on trail days 3 and 5...
Where do I begin?! 5 of us hiked from Oconee to Table Rock over 6 days 5 nights and it was unforgettable. It was end of December 2015 and the weather was unseasonably warm. Began with our awesome shuttle drivers Hayword and Taz who dropped us off at Oconee. Hayward is on the trail conference. They were both so sweet and caring. Anyway we averaged about 12-13 miles per day. Terrain was moderate and very well maintained except where Mother Nature had shown her wrath and the trail crews hadn't gotten there yet for "repairs". Well marked fresh white blazes. Lots and lots of creek and some river crossings sometimes over two planks sometimes over a modern day bridge. We had two days of nonstop downpour so there was plenty of water on the trail for filtering every mile. Lots of very nice camping spots along the way that didn't look overrun like a lot of popular backwoods spots. We used the December 2015 trail guide. Beautiful views of blue mountains all around. Sometimes pine trails sometimes rhododendrons. Barely any people on the trail at all until our last day at Table Rock. Beware the 4ish miles from Pinnacle Mtn down to Table Rock were really tough in terms of all downhill--not scrambling but steep enough that it could hurt bad knees and the last 2 miles down felt like 10. But it was freaking awesome!! Besides 2 days of downpour, we had gorgeous 50 degree sunny/partially sunny weather the entire time. If it had been colder when it rained we would have been in trouble. Ice, snow, wind seem like could be potential issues. Importantly even though we had record rainfall the trail was barely muddy because the base is clay which doesn't absorb the water and isn't slippery so the trails were wet but not muddy and only slippery on piles of leaves, roots and rocks. Also there was a 4 mile stretch along the Chattooga River that we bushwhacked because the river covered portions of the trail waist deep. A trail runner walked through to her waist but we had packs and couldn't hold them over our heads or afford to get wet through. All in all a tough but incredible trail. If I do it again I'd probably go down to 10 miles per day over 6 nights 7 days--my legs and feet hurt!!
great hiking weather your out for a day or a weekend!
I did the entire foothills trail about 3.5 years ago. Overall a good experience. I really enjoyed the section along the chattooga. The section around lake jocasse is deceiving. The topo map doesn't do it justice at a glance. Although the hills aren't big (a few hundred feet probably) but they are STEEP and relentless...one after another. We did it in 4 nights/5 days. I would have enjoyed an extra day to shave a few miles off each day.
Did a 20 mile section years ago near the chattoogga river and just recently hiked from 178 at laurel valley to Sassafras summit, camping at chimneytop gap.. intense terrain, well marked... watch out for hunters
Did this trail once from 10/13/2009-10/17/2009, then again from 10/13/2011-10/19/2011. I must say this is an awesome trail. Strenuous at times, but beautiful nonetheless. Spending a week on the trail is never bad.