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

Nice views of the lake, not too crowed except on Saturday.

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.

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.

hiking
17 days ago

We are beginner hikers and this was perfect. Well marked trail, some scenic views, and not crowded at all. It was rainy and the trail stayed in good shape.

After hiking the Foothills Trail four times I have seen this one enough. Besides I like Upper Whitewater Falls better..

A fun hike! This was a prelude to my hiking the Foothills Trail four times.

Great trail with scenic views. Only did 8 miles and back. Found several great spots to fish and swim in the river. Several campsites located along the river. A few trees had fallen along the trail, but they were easy enough to step over or crawl under. A very small portion has been washed out along the river bank but it wasn't dangerous. I highly recommend it for camping. Overall not difficult, would be good for all skill levels.

The trail was in overall great shape. We hiked four miles in hoping to find big bend falls. It’s practically non-existent, we couldn’t find it and the trail boss said it’s really hard to find and not worth seeing. We ended up setting up camp about 4.2 mi in from the Burrell ford parking lot on a GREAT beach spot. Hiked back out the next day and stayed at the campgrounds there which were in good shape. Fishing was decent. Water was great for swimming. All around awesome. Definitely make sure you hit kings creek fall while you’re there it was the highlight to the trip.

First real hike in SC. We're from Colorado so we have plenty of trail time. Nice li'l hike. The gate to the summit was closed so we respected it, but I wish we hadn't. We'll go back just to say we did it. Our first 3er! The trail was more steep than I expected. It broke my niece's will to walk. Not as challenging as the high country in the Rockies but the humidity did add a layer of difficulty. I look forward to many more of these day hikes.

This was my first hike on July 10th 2018 and this was great. The trail was well maintained and the scenery was beautiful.

backpacking
1 month ago

First things - We did not hike the entire trail. We only hiked to Earl's Ford (it was my daughters first backpacking trip and we wanted to keep it light.

I guess I was just hoping for more highlights. We thought a lunch at Earls Ford would be nice - play in the water and then work our way back... Earls Ford is beautiful and would be a perfect picnic spot, except for the car campers and ORV folks. Lots of trash and trucks.

The trail isn't used much by hikers - we saw 1 hiker over the past 2 days. The campsites are large, but nothing too exceptional, and they seem to be spaced out ever 3 miles or so. There were a few sections with lots of horse traffic (although marked as hikers only), and the spiders are plentiful.

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.

wind comes strong off the lake. would probably cool you off in the summer, but bites in the winter

Very nice, clear trail. Some makeshift boardwalks in the really muddy places, very flat and completely wooded. You do cross several major highways as well. I love this trail, and will definitely use it again.

The trail is lovely and not too difficult. It was a perfect first backpack trip for my 10 year old. For a mid-week trip, the trail was pretty busy and there was one large group of backpackers that left a lot of trash... There is a small section of the trail along the river that is washed out and would be more than a little challenging in higher water. We also encountered a few snakes and I nearly stepped on a copperhead in the middle of the trail. The highlight? Seeing otters playing in the river while eating breakfast.

The trails were well marked. The terrain is fairly constant up until the 9 mile then it begins to noticeably become steeper. There are plenty of streams around the trails. There was a very beautiful stream crossing between the 7th and 8th mile. There were several downed trees but none of them were difficult to get around. I applied some insect and tick repellent but still managed to pick up several ticks along the way, so stop periodically and check yourself. It took me over 9 hours to make the trip

Gorgeous river and waterfalls. Great swimming holes at the base of the initial decent. However this trail does not allow camping due to whitewater corridor protection (the reason for the 3 star rating). However we hiked to Thompson river, 2.7 miles past the turnaround. This was a spectacular 4 star hike. Next time we will start at Bad creek parking to get to Thompson river. (A lot of ticks in June!)

Don't go without plenty of water bc there is none alone this trail.

Easy section of the palmetto trail. The trail is easy to follow and is well maintained. Bugs were minimal. We saw a few deer and enjoyed the trip. The trail surface is mostly soft sand, so be prepared. It feels like hiking on the beach. Enjoy 2018

Great trail, but as several others have commented, the yellow blazes on the gap rim trail are spaced out too far in some key places. I ended up lost for over an hour scrabbling over the spidertrails (clearly I wasn’t the first to be lost on this section). With the lost time, I had some scary moments trying to get over the last technical bits with dark falling and in the rain, but the last 3-ish miles are pretty easy going (much like the Jones Gap trail).

The technical section only covers about 2mi (maybe less even, without the extra “detours” I took) and the section right before you meet the purple trail is absolutely gorgeous. Worth the trip. Take poles for sure, and strongly recommend even for day hike to take a mini bivvy kit and lights in case you end up lost/stuck (the trees are dense and I started using my light well before sundown due to cloud cover+trees).

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.

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! :)

A decent hike. Not the easiest between miles 10-11 with several downed trees; but for the most part well marked, great water sources. Also, reservations for over night camping are required.

I went on the part 1 of this passage on the palmetto trail (4 parts on this passage) camped and then walked back. Not a lot of water stagnant standing water but I brought enough with me. White tail deer, Turkeys lot of flowers big lob Lolly pine Forrest. Saw a lot of pitcher plants. Easy trail very fun and well maintained

Very steep in some areas with 3 young kids and 2 dogs but not busy at all and great hike.

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

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.

Went there last week. Awesome and difficult hike. Headed back in June. I didn't bring my camera as it was supposed to rain. Did it in 3 days.

We went with an 11 and 7 year old plus a dog. A great easy hike for the whole family.

backpacking
3 months ago

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.

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