Foothills Trail Through Hike

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Oconee State Park

Foothills Trail Through Hike is a 77 mile moderately trafficked point-to-point trail located near Mountain Rest, South Carolina that features a lake and is rated as difficult. The trail is primarily used for hiking, camping, and backpacking and is best used from March until November.

Distance: 77.0 miles Elevation Gain: 18,274 feet Route Type: Point to Point









The only way to appreciate the numerous washes, gorges, rivers and mountains is to set foot on this trail from start to finish. This is no walk in the woods and planning should be taken seriously. There are numerous bail out points making it accessible in case of emergencies. This trip will test your backpacking skills and it is worth every minute of it.

off trail
20 days ago

What an awesome trail! First of all, I’d have to say that the trail was one of the best maintained trails I’ve hiked in the southeast, though they were a few large blow downs that we had to navigate around. We got picked up by “Taz” (great guy). We got a late start on May 1 and didn’t get to Table Rock until 6pm. With 5 days of food, Our goal was to do it in as many days. We ended up doing it in 4 day. We pushed ourselves, but t was well worth it. What really helped was that the trail was truly well maintained, with very few hiccups. Traveling from E to W made the last part of the trail a breeze.

3 months ago

We are locals to the area and have hiked several legs of this trail over the years. Yesterday we hiked the spur trail from Caesar’s head to sassafras. We were pleasantly surprised with snow when we started our trip which just added to the amazing scenery. This trail is not for the beginner! It is 14.2 miles with a lot of elevation change and ends with a half mile accent to sassafras. The views,falls, creeks, rock formations make it worth the effort. Start early, wear appropriate clothing, pack food and water and enjoy.

4 months ago

Great trail, poor weather. We (gf and myself) hiked NE bound from Oconee SP to Table Rock SP. The trail is very well maintained by rangers and volunteers throughout. Trail paths are very well marked with white blazes. The trail is not riddled with magnificent mountaintop vistas, but then again, this is the foothills hike. Lush forests, green canopies, crystal clear streams, waterfalls, and rewarding climbs are just a few of the scenes you can expect to witness. Vista views are present and gorgeous at the Table Rock/Pinnacle Mountain descent. There are a few miles in the Gorges Area with bridges and stairs coated in algae or similar slimy accumulations which make passing a bit precarious. In addition, crossing the Whitewater River takes some considerable effort. The bridge does not completely extend from one shore to the other and forces hikers to shimmy across a large 10’ boulder before tossing their pack onto the bridge over a 2-3’ gap giving way to the torrent below. We started the day prior to a winter storm blowing in and felt the repercussions, facing 4+ days of persistent rain, whipping wind, and temperatures in the 30/40’s. On day 4 all of our belongings were sopping wet, and the food that we had would not last the duration of the trip. Luckily, we were able to reach out to a true trail angel- “Taz” - from the Foothills Conservancy website. This godsend of a man picked us up, fed us, allowed us the use of his shower and washer/dryer, and took us to Dollar General for a resupply. That small reprieve renewed our spirits and allowed us to complete the journey. While I do wish the weather had been sunnier, I truly enjoyed the experience and would consider hiking the reverse in future years.

bridge out
4 months ago

Oconnee to Sassafras, late January. Made good 12 mile days, 5d 6n. 22f and 18f first nights, then warmed to above freezing. This pacing let us enjoy nice camping along many of the beautiful river junctions, excepting one night at Coley high up with amazing vista and stars. Setup camp just before rain fell near Toxaway bridge, on the lake. Rained hard from 8pm to 12pm the next afternoon. Might be a factor of the valley there to consider, with the high and long eastern ridge not allowing the sun to dissipate the clouds until it was straight up. However this half day of hiking dropped us right into Laurel Fork Falls that night, camping right on top. Be very careful here! Due to rain and other variables we left the next day on Mt Sassy where we'd left a car already. Overall very beautiful winter hike. Gorgeous rivers and falls. Super abundant water sources and camp sites. Provided a nice blend of challenge and ease. Highly recommend the guide by Scott Lynch, which made planning mileage very simple.

4 months ago

Great trail and it gives all the experience of the best of the Foothills mountains. It goes through some super remote places and I've been out on the trail for days, not seeing another person the entire time. It has lots of big climbs and drops so I wouldn't over estimate your miles if you aren't in decent shape or don't plan on waking up early. One super important detail for trip planning is that in certain sections it's very tough to find campsites. From upper whitewater to Laurel valley falls and then from 178 to Sassafras I would only plan on camping at established sites that you know are there. I've made the mistake of planning for a certain amount of miles and not for a campsite and had to walk an extra 45 min just to find a site.

5 months ago

Wonderful well maintained trail. Plenty of clear, beautiful water consisting of streams, rivers, springs. Lots of up and downs. Feels remote most of time. We saw a bear. You must hang bear bag all year round; the bears do not hibernate here. We were out for 9 nights and ten days. We took our sweet time to go down spur trails to see the many waterfalls and we bathed in some to quell the hikers stench. In early December, we saw only 4 other backpackers along the 77 miles we hiked. We had beautiful weather the first 6 days, high 50’s highland high 30’s low. Then 3 days rain followed by cold front and a last cold sunny day. All in all not bad weather. The Foothills Trail conservancy as done a wonderful job keeping this trail in beautiful shape. Thank you to all of the trail maintainers for keeping the trail clear of tree falls and thanks to the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts for the improved camp sites and resting benches.

over grown
8 months ago

This was day one of a through hike. The foliage was pretty high but over all good.

Sun May 19 2019

We started at Table Rock, wanting to hit the worst of the elevation in the first days. We left mid-day Friday and pounded out 17.5 miles before dark. The first part of the trail out of Table Rock was shaded and cool with plenty of water but with the climb comes more heat and sun and less water. The new lookout platform on Pinnacle is worth a quick stop for sure. We camped in Laurel Valley the first night at a makeshift site on the side of the trail. The second day we did about 21 miles and made it in and out of Gorges and to Bearcamp Creek. Heartbreak Ridge is the least of your worries! Budget some time to relax by the lake and cool your feet in the Toxaway River. Day 3 was 22 miles to Burrell's Ford campground (0.3mi detour off trail; bear hangs and toilets present) after a lovely walk along the Whitewater River (and a perhaps slightly less lovely climb out of the valley). This left us about 17 miles for the last day -- the first section of this was along the Chattooga where there are many idyllic campsites worth a stop. The last section into Oconee was the least pleasant of the hike, being dry and hot with some areas of significant prior fire damage. Upon completion we realized we had left our car in the wrong lot (we dropped off at night and so did not know exactly where to drop the car) and had an extra mile to our car -- be sure you part at the trail terminus for sure! This was very doable as a 3.5 day hike but 4-5 days likely makes more sense and would give you a bit more time to enjoy the lovely campsites and water sources all along the trail. The trail is very well marked and easy to follow but you can get maps and books that outline the trail in detail and are great for planning and emergency use. Water is never an issue and we rarely carried more than a liter at a time (some of the higher elevation points lack water sources so a carry what you are comfortable with); likewise, most campsites are near water. This hike has a lot of elevation and you will be benefited if you do a shakedown of your gear before you leave -- just bring what you really need and keep it as light as you can. We left Table rock with 30 pounds between the two of us, and 13 of that was food and water. If you can keep your pack light you will be able to cover more ground with less fatigue. With less gear you can shed the lead weighted boots and trade them in for a nice light pair of trail runners -- they will give you a whole new appreciation for hiking. I should also put a plug in for using hiking poles -- really help on the climbs on this trail. As other reviews note, there are plenty of road crossings and access points so you can do this trail all at once or in sections as you see fit. The Chattooga section, in particular is prime for some R&R by the river with beach and woods based sites. We saw a huge amount of wildlife -- birds, amphibians, and reptiles mostly. Sadly no bears on our trip but they are around so hang or cannister your food. I did not mark water sources (they are everywhere) but I tried to mark as many sites as I could -- see my recording. The boy scouts have done an admirable job improving many sites, particularly between Table Rock and the whitewater river area. Finally, a plug for the foothills trail conservancy ( which has done an amazing job with this trail and the surrounding environs. They have trail maps and resources on their site to help you plan. Join and submit your hike to them you can become a member of the Order of the Peregrine! Enjoy.

Thu May 02 2019

Started 3 years ago with some friends and did the first 50 miles from table rock to a big waterfall. Gearing up to do the last 20 or so miles this weekend. I'm looking forward to getting back out in it and enjoy all the beautiful sights nature has to offer. The trail is tough and very challenging at times, but there are plenty of water sources along the way. My favorite memory is of the minnows nibbling my toes as I soothed them in many of the ice cold streams along the trail.

Mon Apr 29 2019

This trail is beautiful and amazing just make sure you check conditions as they have had record breaking rain in both 2018 and 2019.

Fri Apr 19 2019

What a great trail! Lots of everything. Did it in five days.

Mon Jan 07 2019

Fantastic trail. Did an overnighter with my daughter, then 12. Went from Upper Whitewater Falls to Burrell's Ford Rd. Highly recommended.

Fri Oct 26 2018

We just went got back from what we thought would be a thru hike but weather was about to set in and I am more of a fair weather hiker. Overall the trip was great. We went from Oconee and made it to upper whitewater fall. Called Jim Simpson who was a saint and took us back to our car. Definitely will do this hike again and try to finish it. My hats off to all those people who maintain the trail. Overall it was in good condition

Mon Oct 15 2018

Just got back from another church hike. Hiked from whitewater falls to Oconee Park. Trails in perfect condition.

Wed Aug 08 2018

I took the trail from Table Rock to Laurel Valley yesterday morning 8-3-18 during the rain. The Creeks and Falls along the trail were raging but awesome to see and hear. Crossing points were still safe but reccomend the upmost caution. The sky's cleared by the time I crested at Sassafras overlook. I made the section in 4:35. Looking forward to Hiking the trail all the way to OSP soon.

Sat Aug 04 2018

We did the first 30 miles from Oconee to Whitewater Falls October 2017 in 2.5 days. Pretty cruisy with some great camp sites. Didn't see anyone on our Thursday to Saturday walk. Went back to Table Rock SP May 3, 4, 5, 2018, and finished up the last 48 miles. Sassafras Mt. was closed due to the new tower construction. There was one worker dude up there in a truck hanging out with his girlfriend. We obeyed and took the detour but I wasn't pleased. We finished day 2 with Heartbreak Ridge and I agree with a previous poster on finishing the day with Heartbreaker and getting yourself one of the sweeeeeet campsites by the Toxaway because the next day you got about 16 pretty tough miles to the camp that the Girlscouts constructed close to the base of Whitewater Falls. Hats off to all the Eagle Scouts who did their community service projects on this trail; their everywhere. As for water... it's everywhere.

Fri Jul 06 2018

This trail really needs to be reviewed in sections, preferably from Scott Lynch's book. Some parts are definitely moderate with long stretches of trail that is smooth, easy, and crazy beautiful. Other parts are steep switchbacks with big trees to crabwalk under or scrabble over. A friend and I did 35 miles, starting at Oconee and ending just before Whitewater Falls. Outrageously beautiful - all the streams and creeks were running, and the Chattooga was raging. Waterfalls everywhere! Mushrooms of all colors, waterfalls of ferns, every moss and lichen, blooming rhododendrons, We were glad we had planned low miles so we could stop to explore and take pictures. My caution would be that it was hot with very high humidity, and we almost couldn't drink enough water to stay hydrated. We will be back to do more.

Wed May 23 2018

I have sectioned about 45 miles of this trail on 2 separate visits. I keep coming back because I love the area so much. I will say it is a legit backpacking trail and not to be taken lightly if you intend to make a go of it. I agree with another reviewer who said it is hard to rate the terrain; some sections are quite easy and mild and other sections are rugged, steep, and hard on your body whether you're young or old. Of the sections I have done, Oconee to the beginning of the Chatooga river was easiest. The easterly section of the Chatooga and the section from Sassafras to TRSP were the most rugged. Expect slow going through those parts and some sore feet! Be in shape and allow 5-7 days to do the whole trail depending on your experience level. All in all it is really lush and beautiful terrain and there are so many cool trees, waterfalls, rivers, and rock formations to see. Water sources are plentiful in spring. There are no resupply options or town crossings, although there are rural road crossings every 5-10 miles and some very cool volunteer shuttle drivers listed on the FHT website. I highly recommend Jim Simpson, he is the man!! He picked me up on an hour's notice when I had some health issues and had to get off trail for the night.

Tue May 22 2018

I am rating this in advance only because I have sectioned much of it already. I am thru hiking it starting in the morning after a quick stop at the rei for a fuel can. wish me luck! :)

Sat May 12 2018

well maintained, even with the previous hurricane damage. BEAUTIFUL trail and excellent camping areas.

Mon May 07 2018

In May 2018, hiked from Table Rock to Bad Creek (45 miles) in 2.5 days. I would second everything that Bradley Glenn said in his review here and won't repeat it, except to recommend getting Scott Lynch's little guide to the trail. I kept it in my back pocket and consulted it frequently. In addition to what Bradley said, I would highly recommend the following campsites (2 of which we used, the others of which we saw): 8.6 miles from Table Rock (no name), on Lake Jocassee after Heartbreak Ridge (don't take the first one you see, wait for the picnic tables--the ones closest to the bridge over the Toxaway are best), Thompson River, and Virginia Hawkins Falls. This hike is A LOT of up and down. If you don't normally hike with a stick or trekking poles, you should still use them on this hike if only to save your knees on the downhills. We saw two adolescent black bears on this hike, both of which ran off with a little yelling. Hang your food or bring a bear canister. Expect isolation, at least in May. We had spectacular weather and saw maybe a dozen people over 2.5 days. Thompson River, Viriginia Hawkins Falls and Horsepasture River are perfect lunch spots. If you are following the Lynch 5-day thru hike plan, I'd recommend including Hearbreak Ridge at the end of day 2 instead of the beginning of day 3. You have another long, tough climb already early in day 3 after crossing the Toxaway River, and knocking out HB at the end of day 2 prevents having to start the day with 2 tough climbs. If you want a challenging trail that is well-maintained and free of crowds, the Foothills Trail is a great choice. If you need a shuttle, Google Lake Jocassee Tours and ask for Randy Cobb to shuttle you. Good guy and on time.

Wed Apr 25 2018

Love it. My buddy and I hiked it October 2016. Took us 5 nights, 6 days. Not to bad for our ages, 58 and 61. Don’t take the trail lightly, it’s very tough. Would love to do it again, maybe.

Sat Mar 24 2018

Through hiked it in 5 days, a lot of elevation change. Not to be taken lightly.

Sun Feb 04 2018

have done it end past 2 years. Going again in April

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