Explore the most popular river trails near Highlands with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

The trail that starts off the highway is not marked, with no “actual” parking spots. Right at the start is a creek that you’re going to have to cross. Either get your feet wet (not advised this early on in the hike) or go across barefoot. BRING EXTRA SOCKS!! The entire trail is covered in mud, brambles, fallen trees, spider webs, and ticks! Bug spray is also a necessity. When you get to the main fork that starts the loop, GO RIGHT then slightly left to stay on track. You’ll follow the trail down through more downed trees and brambles, then through a “mini loop” to the water. The converging rivers are beautiful! There’s some rocks to sit on and take a break, right at the center of the rivers. When you head back up, GO BACK THE WAY YOU CAME!!!!! I know it’s a “loop trail” but the back side of the trail is completely destroyed! All the trees are down, making the tiny trail literally invisible. We ended up bushwhacking our way out of the mess, nearly getting lost in the process. I wasn’t so judgmental on the rest of the trail after that. Overall, the hike was rough. Sure, it’s flat, but the lack of maintenance made the trail exhausting. The view at the water really is beautiful, “a little Montana” as we called it. I just wouldn’t advise taking kids, dogs, or anybody who isn’t ready to “rough it” a little.
Take-away points:
1. Extra socks
2. Bug spray
3. DO NOT take the backside of the loop! Go right at the fork then come back up the way you came to get back to the highway!!!!

hiking
1 month ago

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
1 month ago

Trail is overgrown and not well maintained. Loop trail is hard to identify.

This trail is listed in Highlands, NC and Clayton, GA. It took some time but we found an entrance off of Hwy 28 just outside of Highlands. Absolutely nothing was marked and we had to cross a small stream to gain access to the trail. The trail was beautiful but a lot of downed trees. There were no markings and we only found the waterfall by chance. It was amazing and worth it. We had to double back on the trail at the waterfall due to blocked paths which made our hike almost 8 miles.

hiking
Thursday, July 20, 2017

Trailhead starts on hwy 28 north of big creek on pullout. Map is not accurate. What is shown is private property. Residents were helpful getting us to the right place. Good hike but couldn't get to waterfall. No signage to point the way. Saw pileated woodpecker, box turtle and lots of bugs.

camping
Monday, June 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!

Saturday, February 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
Friday, October 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.

Saturday, August 01, 2015

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

on Ellicott Rock Trail

hiking
Sunday, February 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
Monday, August 26, 2013

This is a good trail with nice scenery and is a good hike for a family. I hiked this trail with my son and some friends and we camped overnight at the site near the Long Creek Falls. The trail is easy with little elevation gain and follows the creek all the way to the falls.

hiking
Wednesday, April 10, 2013

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

nature trips
Sunday, January 08, 2012

This trail has the feel of 'real hiking' for smaller kids and has a nice little waterfall. The drive to the trail is a beautiful one! There is very little gain, making it nice for a family picnic at the falls.

hiking
27 days ago

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3 months ago

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3 months ago

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7 months ago

hiking
7 months ago

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9 months ago

hiking
Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Sunday, April 09, 2017

Saturday, April 08, 2017

fishing
Sunday, October 16, 2016

hiking
Monday, November 02, 2015

hiking
Friday, November 15, 2013