Chattooga River Trail is a 8 mile heavily trafficked out and back trail located near Mountain Rest, South Carolina that features a waterfall and is rated as moderate. The trail offers a number of activity options and is accessible year-round. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

Length8.0 miElevation gain547 ftRoute typeOut & back
Dogs on leashKid friendlyBackpackingCampingFishingHikingNature tripsWalkingRunningForestRiverViewsWaterfallWildflowersWildlifeBlowdown
Description
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Getting There

This trail reaches the popular Ellicott's Rock. This wilderness area spans over 9,000 acres. It offers great hiking, primitive camping, and fishing. You can hike to where N.C., S.C. & GA meet on the Chattooga River.

Parking available for two vehicles

From main intersection of U.S. Hwy-64/ N.C. Hwy-28 in Highlands, NC drive through main street until the road turns into Horse Cove Road (just past Mtn. Fresh Grocery on your Right). Drive for 4.5 miles until you come to a fork in the road at a Brown mileage sign. Take the Right onto "Bull Pen Rd." for 2 miles to the entrance to Ellicott Rock Wilderness and the trailhead.

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Reviews (106)
Photos (408)
Activities (105)
Completed (291)
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Tim Gould
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We used to backpack this Trail all the time back in the day. the hike from B-Ford to the campsites above the state line in the middle of the night is awesome... you should try that sometime. This trail was always a favorite because of the giant brown trout that live in the upper reaches. Missed it for a while, but now I live in Washington State. Happy Hiking. Be safe.

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Joanne Bednar
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Hiking

A little muddy in spots but you can’t beat hiking along the beautiful Chatooga! Last mile near Ellicott has some tricky spots but it’s doable. Take your time and be careful. Not sure if we saw the rock or not but tried to at least get to the state line before turning back LOL. The falls were great!

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Melissa Melton
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Hiking

Excellent hike. Not many people. Will definitely be back to camp.

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Leon McDowell
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Road biking
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Justin OHare
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Hiking

Very fun! Easy trail, but there are some down trees, and you might get your feet a little wet.

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maggie shepard
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BackpackingBridge outGreat!Over grown

went for a 3 day backpacking trip. trail is 95% shaded. 2nd bridge had fallen due to heavy rains after hurricane delta. 5 or 6 great camping spots along the river. very peaceful, not very populated at all, just what we needed!

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Mike Newberry
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Hiking
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Amy Cook
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Hiking
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Jack Hooper
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Hiking

Most gorgeous trail in the southeast.

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Michelle Hott
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Hiking
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Sabrina Mergenthaler
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MuddyRocky

nice trail running along the river. busy busy busy with hikers and campers and families throughout. i think i saw ellicott rock. lots of downed trees to climb over or go around. none too difficult. there's a tree fallen on the bridge to cross the river. seems still sturdy.

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Diana Hester
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BackpackingBlowdownBugsMuddyOver grown

Was an okay a long the river trail a lot of over grown and tress down wasn’t able to see the rock.

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Will Hester
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HikingBlowdownBridge outOver grownWashed out
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Olivia Mead
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Hiking

Beautiful river views - great for fishing and camping but the trail is pretty measly and overgrown if you’re looking for a long hike.

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Howard Chalmers
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HikingBlowdown

Still a great trail through the Ellicott Rock Wilderness, but there is a ton of blowdown, I assume from the storms earlier this year.

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Sierra Weiss
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Hiking

Good hike, seems more of a trail to get to a spot to either fish or camp, versus a hike to see something. Easy and nice!

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Tim Newman
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Backpacking

I backpacked for one night on the Chatooga river trail. In on a Saturday and out on Sunday. Others parked their cars right on the road by the trailhead, ,I parked in the Burrels Ford parking lot about half a mile from the trailhead and about 100ft elev higher than the trailhead. That's a pretty steep hike back up to the lot after hiking out. On my trip, I only had to climb over 2 downed trees and they were easy. The crossing at bad creek wasn't difficult. I put on my sandals to cross on the way in, but on the way out I did it in my boots. It was a beautiful hike. Saw 4 other people over my 2 days.

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Alex Whitaker
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HikingBlowdown

Beautiful hike on the Chattooga nearly the whole way. Couldn’t find Ellicott Rock but it’s on an island in the river. There’s a yellow marker on the right of the trail which might indicate where it is. We also saw a sign on the other side. It’s about 3.5 miles in. A few trees down but nice trail.

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Zachary James
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HikingBlowdownMuddyRocky

Great trail to hike. Enjoyed the hike with my family and is certainly on the easier end of a moderate hike. There is some elevation change but the transitions are mostly subtle. There are a few places along the trail that require some work. There are quite a few (10-12) trees down across the trail. Most require you to scramble over or under. A few actually have cutouts in them to help give you footing or give you an easier climb over. There are several water crossings. Some are just small runoffs and just wet your shoes (wear appropriate footwear) while others require you to walk across rocks. There is one with an awesome log bridge and another (very close to Ellicott and Commissioners Rocks) that is just a single board across a culvert. One thing that may have recently changed that is NOT reflected in the other reviews is the difficulty of finding Ellicott and Commissioners Rocks. One of the trees that was previously standing on the trail just above the rocks has fallen! This is the tree shown in the photos with the NC Game Lands diamond-shaped tags. It's laying on the side of the bank partially submerged in the river now. You can still see the tags on the tree if you look closely but it's quickly being covered by brush in the area. The only marker still at the rocks is the tree just before this with the SCGS small metal disc nailed into it. This disc is about the size of a quarter so it's hard to spot if you're not looking. Someone has carved into the tree just before this with an arrow pointing down to the rocks on the bank below. THIS IS WHERE THE ROCKS ARE. You can see the top of both Ellicott and Commissioners Rocks from here (see pictures I uploaded). You have to climb down the bank (not the easiest but definitely doable in several locations in this area) to reach the rocks. Water level was at average height on our visit and both were accessible but another 1'-2' of water would've made Commissioners Rock inaccessible and Ellicott Rock very tough to get over to. Check the water levels before you visit if seeing these rocks is a must! If you reach the open camping area carved out of the brush by the river just after crossing the SC/NC State Line, you've passed the rocks. Be aware on this trail for critters as well. We saw two ribbon snakes, a black racer, and an infamous (venomous) Copperhead. These were all seen within .2 miles of the rocks and were right along (and even in the middle of) the trail. This was also in 45-50 degree weather near very cold water in the morning to midday. Parking is no problem. There are several areas off of Burrells Ford road to park near the SC/GA bridge on both sides as well as at the Burrells Ford campground parking lot. Plan for 4-5 hours to hike out, stop at several great riverside overlooks, a few drink/snack breaks, find and view the rocks, and the hike back. I also recommend visiting Spoonauger Falls which is only a .1 mile hike that turns off the trail just after the you begin the hike from the Burrells Ford Rd. trail head. There is a sign clearly marking this trail as well. Be prepared for slippery conditions on many of the rocks you cross, muddy areas on the trail, and many roots and rocks sticking up out of the ground that are sometimes covered by leaves. As long as you have the right footwear and are ready to see some cool history from the early 1800s, you'll love this great riverside hike!

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