My daughter Hannah is a member of her high school’s marching band. With the start of the new school year less than three weeks away, band camp is in full swing. This past Wednesday morning, after dropping Hannah off for practice, I drove to the trailhead for the Foothills Trail at Burrels Ford. My plan was to hike the 8.1 mile section from Burrels Ford to Lick Log, then turn around and hike all the way back to my car for a total of 16.2 miles. I would need to be done hiking by not much later than 4:30 pm in order to make it back in time to pick up Hannah at the end of practice.
I was on the trail by 8:40 am. The morning was pleasantly cool with temperatures in the upper 50’s to the low 60’s. The weather forecast called for clear skies.
After hiking about a half mile I crossed this log bridge and then arrived at the spur trail that leads to King Creek Falls. The Foothills Trail turns right and begins to climb away from the creek.
This section of the Foothills Trail parallels the Chattooga River for most of the way. The Chattooga River flows 50 miles from Whiteside Mountain near Cashiers, North Carolina and ends at Lake Tugaloo. It forms the border between South Carolina and Georgia.
Along the way, the trail passes under several large and impressive rock faces.
The Chattooga River was designated a Wild and Scenic River in the early 1970’s and is popular for fishing and whitewater rafting. Twenty years ago, while on our honeymoon, my wife and I took a day-long rafting trip on the Chattooga. That was long before we decided to move to the area.
At about mile 3.6, there is a steep spur trail that takes you down to Big Bend Falls. It’s hard to get a clear picture of the falls without getting too close, but the sound created by the force of the water was pretty spectacular.
After hiking 5.5 miles, I stopped and ate my lunch here while sitting on a large boulder.
I arrived at Lick Log Creek, 8.1 miles from the start of my hike, at 12:25 pm.
I could hear Licklog Falls but I couldn’t see them. I hiked down a steep spur hoping to get a better view, but this was as close as I could get. If I had more time, I would have explored some other options. There’s no doubt a way to get a clear view of the falls without going for a swim.
After 20 minutes, it was time to turn around and begin the hike back to my car.
On the hike out, I had a good view of the river from the top of this bluff.
The Foothills Trail is fairly well marked with white blazes but there are places where it intersects with other trails. At one such junction, about three miles from my car, there was a trail that went to the left and a trail that went to the right. I went right and climbed steeply, all the while looking for a blaze. After about a quarter of a mile, I concluded that I had gone the wrong way, so I turned around and hiked back down. When I got back to the junction, I saw that there was a third option between the two that I had missed.
When I started my hike in the morning, I was carrying a little more than one and a half liters of water. I had finished drinking that and was still feeling pretty thirsty, so I stopped and filtered some water from a creek.
All told, I hiked about 16.8 miles. Fortunately, even with the delay to filter water and the time lost having gone the wrong way, I still managed to get back to my car by 4:45 pm and was only a little late picking my daughter up.