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Chattooga River Trail

MODERATE 51 reviews

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.

Distance: 8.0 miles Elevation Gain: 547 feet Route Type: Out & Back

dogs on leash

kid friendly

backpacking

camping

fishing

hiking

nature trips

walking

running

forest

river

views

waterfall

wild flowers

wildlife

blowdown

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.

hiking
blowdown
12 days ago

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.

hiking
blowdown
muddy
rocky
24 days ago

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!

backpacking
1 month ago

First real backpacking experience for my teenage son and I and it’s great.

hiking
2 months ago

Yellowjacket nest in the middle of the trail! Coming in from the south, it is after three sets of orange flagging - possibly pink tagging very near the spot. Large nest, could step directly into it as it is on the backside of a root. I've got a waypoint in my recording - exercise caution! Ellicott Rock can be rather easily missed. Do your research, know what you are looking for, check out previous recordings, and keep a lookout for the silver tag. A very cool historic site!! Make sure to stop by Spoonauger Falls on the way back.

hiking
3 months ago

Easiest moderate I’ve ever done. It’s wet, slippery in some places and shady. Don’t know how you can miss Ellicott Rock, it’s the size of a dump truck sitting in the middle of the Chattooga.

hiking
4 months ago

This is a great trail for beginners. Not a lot of elevation and steep climbs. Make sure you wear shoes with good traction. The water was clear and beautiful even though it had rained earlier in the week and the week prior. There were a lot of spiders(on the trail and campsite). There were very few bugs or mosquitoes. I didn’t even use bug spray. The weather could not have been any nicer. It was sunny but the canopy provided a bunch of shade. The temperature was perfect. It must have been in the 70’s during the days and dry and dipped down in the 50’s-60’s during the evening. We hiked out and could not find Ellicott’s Rock. Maybe next time. Plenty of campsites along the river. Large sites available too for large tents.

hiking
5 months ago

I love this trail. we were never able to locate Ellicott's Rock but still it's a beautiful trail!!

hiking
muddy
over grown
9 months ago

The trail was nice enough but pretty muddy with a lot of ankle-twisting roots. Had to duck/crawl under so very many rhododendron that created a canopy over the trail at times. Some water crossings required wet feet. Most of the camp sites were huge, open, and showed evidence of heavy use but were nice, nonetheless. I found a site that with a bit more seclusion that served me nicely. It had great water access but too fast to take a dip and cool off. Tons of fishermen but I didn't see any other hikers with packs nor anyone setting up camp (save for one camp that I saw on my way back out. Still too early for ticks and bugs. The trail doesn't appear to have a clear terminus at the northern end (or I just didn't reach it). I think I overshot my intended end-point and the trail became increasingly difficult with obstacles difficult to navigate with a full pack until I gave up on the slow and annoying progress and went back to the campsite I wanted to stay at, anyway. This was my first trip after moving across the country a year ago and some naturing was sorely needed. the trail did the trick, but also left me wanting for a little more.

hiking
blowdown
muddy
rocky
scramble
10 months ago

Lots of trees blown down, and lots of places to jump water sources.

hiking
Sun Nov 18 2018

Awesome trail.. plan to get your feet wet.. with rain the past 4 days, we could not find the rock due to high and fast water. maybe next time. the trail is awesome, and the scenery is better. You can see and hear the river most of the way.

hiking
Mon Jun 04 2018

We did this trail this on June 3. It's a beautiful walk along the Chattooga river. I love this river and enjoy being in this area. Unfortunately, there is a lot of brush on the river side of the river so you can't see the river the whole time but there are definitely places to get to the river and enjoy the view. I didn't feel the trail was strenuous but you will be tired when you get back to the car. I expect the view may be better in cooler weather. Never the less, I enjoyed the hike very much. We did find Ellicott Rock without much trouble. Use the recordings logged on this page and it will take you right to the spot. The water was up a good two feet while we were there. When you get to the spot on the trail the rock will be directly below you (heading north it will be on your left) at the water's edge. It was partially submerged when we were there so we didn't climb down to it. The water was moving a little too fast for comfort. The pink ribbon marking the spot is not there but there were several items tied in the overhanging trees marking the spot. This is a very good walk and took us over 4 hours. You can park in the parking area at Burrells Ford or you can drive a bit further down the road to the trailhead and park on the side of the road. The foot-traffic was light particularly after the first two miles. This place is crawling with critters. We saw 4 snakes (2 Ring Necks, 1 Rat Snake and 1 Copperhead), lots of lizards, snails, butterflies, beautiful flowers, a gazillion millipedes and so on. Your feet WILL get wet and muddy. as there are several water crossings. On a hot day it is a much appreciated cool-off though. We went through over 3 liters of water on this day. Luckily we brought our Sawyer squeeze-type system and didn't have to carry so much water weight. There were several beautiful areas around to take a snack, a dip or rest break. The river is amazing. The trail was not really marked - no blazes but it was easy to follow. There were only a time or two where we took 10 seconds or so to figure out where the trail cut through a large open area. There are a lot of dead and down trees on this trail. Some old and some freshly fallen. Some have fallen from the trail taking a chunk of the trail with it. Some areas are very rooty and you have to watch your footing. In places the bushes crowd the trail making for a tight walk. There were gnats galore and lots of mosquitoes so bring your bug repellent if you are bothered by them. I brought a small towel and ended up fanning my head the whole time to keep the mosquitoes out of my face and the gnats out of my nose and mouth. I would definitely do this hike again.

hiking
blowdown
Fri Jun 01 2018

Completed this trail in May 18. It was a very peaceful easy hike that was not too busy. Camped 2 nights with plenty of spots. The trail was in good shape, but we nor anyone else could find the "rock". River is beautiful and great to cool off in. Brought fly rod but no fish landed. Others were catching fish on spinning rods with some artificial baits I did not know of or have. If you want to catch fish do some research as I did not. Overall nice relaxing, easy walk. Bugs weren't terrible for late spring and really no wildlife seen. Great for families or beginners.

Mon Jun 12 2017

Trail was difficult to follow but worth every minute!

camping
Mon Jun 12 2017

We just backpacked and camped there this weekend. We really enjoyed it! The trail does have a number of downed trees, some small and some not so small, across the trail. It was a little over 3 miles from parking just beyond the trailhead to the camping spots along the river. The first 1 mile in is mostly uphill and the last 2 miles are mostly down hill. Obviously the hike out is more challenging. There are 2 very nice camp spots by the river. Ellicott Rock is actually a little further down the trail- marked by a pink ribbon on the right. We thought the marker was out on the island, but now I believe the rock is directly below the ribbon, on the bank (after looking at another post on here). I think we were standing in it . We did not hike further down the trail. The first 3 miles do not have nice camp sites, besides the 2 on the river. I'm not sure what else is down stream. Bring a fishing pole - lots of fish in the river! Great hike and camping- would definitely do it again!

hiking
Mon May 29 2017

This is a great day-hike trail. It has a bit of an anticlimactic finish, but the views along the flower lined river are great the whole trail. Be prepared, though. The trail gets a bit narrow after the bridge. It also has quite a few downed trees and some slippery spots after some rain.

hiking
Sat Apr 29 2017

My favorite section of this trail by far. Stays w/ the river all the way w/ some great swimming holes. Not a lot of trash or people to run into and not very strenuous. Check out spoon auger falls at burrell's ford on the way back to finish the trip.

backpacking
Sun Apr 16 2017

Enjoyable hike, for camping and fishing. high traffic through burrells Ford area but get more than a mile out the traffic thins and you can enjoy the trail more. backpacked for about 3-4 hours, stopping to fish along the way.

Sat Feb 18 2017

Once you understand this rock, etched by the foremost topographer of his time, your excitement will match its historical significance. It's difficult to find, as it mark's the undoing of Georgia and both Carolinas. A war was fought and people died over its disputed location. The hike follows the mighty Chattooga River upstream. The rock is on the south bank facing the river. A treasured hike. Feel the history.

hiking
Fri Oct 16 2015

Trail is rather uneventful - pleasant walk in the woods, lots of rhododendron for shade in warmer months, not much of a view unless leaves have fallen. The elevation is noteworthy, but the switchbacks are so gradual, it isn't bothersome. A few trees down that required some navigating. Despite not being blazed, was easy to follow down to the river. Some sections were quite muddy - had a hard rain night before... When you reach "river level", decent campsite in front of you. Recommend looking at pics of the rocks so you can recognize them ahead of time. Saw some coyote & fox scat.

Sat Aug 01 2015

The trail condition was rugged as it is poorly maintained. Bring a machete! The rocks are very hard to find.

hiking
Sun Feb 08 2015

The trail itself is easy and follows an old forest service road. There are a lot of obstacles that makes it feel like an obstacle course at times, but it is still passable. There are no blazes that mark the trail but keep your eyes open for pink or orange tape on some trees. Commissioner Rock and Ellicott Rock are very tricky to find.

hiking
Wed Apr 10 2013

Fantastic trail for a light overnighter. Beautiful views and great opportunities for fish for a meal on the Chattooga River!

hiking
3 days ago

recorded Chattooga River Trail

hiking
3 days ago

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