SOUTH CAROLINA: King’s Creek Falls at Burrell’s Ford Campground

Burrell’s Ford is a popular no fee campground on the beautiful Chattooga River. Along with the river there are two nearby falls, Spoonauger Falls and King’s Creek Falls. King’s Creek Falls is less than a mile from the campground, and makes for a great kid hike from the campground or the campground parking area. Today I hiked an easy loop from the parking area, past the Winchester Cemetery, to the falls, then back to the parking area via the campground.


Is it goat approved? The trail is tight and popular and therefore not goat friendly.

How you get there:  You want to go to the Burrell’s Ford Campground Parking Area off Forest Rd. 646 located at 34.971370,-83.114598.

Time for the hike:  1.4 mile roundtrip in a loop from the parking, past Winchester Cemetery, to King’s Creek Falls, through Burrell’s Ford Campground, and back to parking. Trail is easy but does have you scrabbling over a huge tree just before the falls that may be difficult for those with mobility impairment.

Best season to do this hike: anytime of year.


Trails to Take

The trail to take leads off from the parking area along the road on the opposite side from the pit toliet. Don’t cross the road, but continue forward on the foot path. The hill to the right here is crowned by the Winchester Cemetery, built in the 1820s.

Winchester Cemetery

The trail continues through rhododendron, wandering in a meandering fashion. The trail comes down to a creek. You want to cross the bridge and hang a hard left here to continue up the creek to the falls. This section dead ends at the falls.

King’s Creek Falls

Once you are done with the falls, turn back, cross the bridge over the creek again (don’t go straight ahead on the foothills trail) then hang a left and go downstream along the creek. This will take you to Burrell’s Ford Campground.

Bridge over the creek

Hang a left on the gravel road, then a left at the next campsite access road and go down to the river the see the historic Burrells Ford where the old wagon road used to cross. It is marked by a welded metal marker near the river bank.

Burrells Ford Campground

To go back to the parking area just follow the campground access road paralleling the river.


TRAIL MAP

BE WARNED

  1. The river used to be surrounded by a gorgeous hemlock forest of several hundred year old trees, (no really, it was like a magical elf level fairy land forest). Thanks to the wooly adelgid these are now gone, but their children are still struggling to make a comeback. So be kind to the baby hemlocks, and avoid rubbing up against them and carrying the wooly adelgids on your clothes to new forests for them to kill!
  2. TheI is a huge tree trunk blocking the trail just before the falls. It was not cross able for someone with a bad knee.
  3. You cannot camp near the trail head or along the road or along the river near either of the above. Plan accordingly. The campground itself is popular and will fill up!
  4. If you are camping you must hike in to this primitive campground with your camping gear.
  5. Ignore the terrible trail map posted at most of the trail heads in the area. It has no mileage, isnt drawn to scale, and is utterly useless. The fragments of trail on Google are more useful!

In sum: 

“To understand the limitation of things, desire them” – Lzu Te

Frog spawn in a vernal pool

SOUTH CAROLINA: Chattooga Trail to Ellicott’s Rock

I always remember Ellicott’s Rock because it is the rock I went in search of with my now husband the day after I asked him to marry me. I suspect most women expect to be presented with a different kind of rock in this sort of situation. He still helped me look for it though!

There are two rocks in this location. One is Ellicott’s Rock, which marks Andrew Ellicott’s best survey/guess as to the border between GA and NC back in 1811 when he was trying to determine the boundary between the two states. It is marked with an N-G. Nearby (though no one seems to know exactly where) is Commissioner’s Rock, which marks the boundary where NC and SC meet. It is marked with the inscription “Lat 35 AD 1813 NC + S.C”. Neither are easy to find, nor can they be found when the water is up as the river covers the faint inscriptions. My grandmother, the last member of the family to successfully locate the rocks back in the 80s/prehistory, says the inscriptions are faint and may be near the underside/water line on the rocks themselves and the rocks are IN the river. Needless to say, I have not definitively found these myself yet, and will have to keep trying!


Is it goat approved? I will probably hike the Chattooga Trail with a goat at some point, but not today. There is little goat acceptable forage along the river except for hemlocks (which are near threatened and will probably be endangered in the future – so no eating) and there are tons of highly poisonous mountain laurel and rhododendron bushes around. You would need to bring chaffe hay to feed the goat. Or it will eat the poisonous stuff and croak…

How you get there:  You want to go to the Chattooga Trail Trailhead off Forest Rd. 646 located at34°58’29.3″N 83°06’53.1″W.

Time for the hike:  6.2 mile out and back  from the parking area/trail head to the rocks and back. The hike is mostly along the river and flat or nearly flat ground. I would rate this as family friendly and easy, but you will need balance to cross the water crossing and in wet weather water proof shoes would be a good idea.

***The rocks are not easy to find  and will require bushwhacking to see as the small sign that used to mark their location is gone.***

Best season to do this hike: Straight up winter. No bugs from the muddy sections of the trail, fewer people, and better breezes.


Trails to Take

If you start off at the trail head park on the side of the road, (or go up the road towards Hwy 107 and park at the big parking area) and then hike down the trail. The route is easy, follows the river, and rarely requires any uphill or down hill hiking. There is one significant stream crossing that may be a problem if you have bad balance or do not have water proof shoes about a mile in, just before the turn off to Spoonauger Falls. There used to be a bridge here, but there isn’t anymore.

Fly fisherman on the Chattooga River

The trail continues along the river, beginning to pass rustic campsites (note camping is not allowed anywhere near the trail head or along the river near the road) and eventually terminating in a large open area where the trout fishermen generally camp during the January to February fishing season. Walk straight through this confusing mess, following the Chattooga River and you will see a bridge crossing a significant tributary joining the Chatooga. Cross the bridge, and on the far side signage will indicate you need to go left and hike 1.8 mi to Ellicot’s Rock.

Continue to hike along the river until you reach the location (Google Maps has it marked – 35°00’03.3″N 83°06’30.5″W), then look along the river bank for the rocks as the small sign that used to be there is gone. If you reach the switch backs and start climbing the mountain side you have gone too far. If you pass a large boulder mid stream with a small sapling growing from the top you aren’t there yet. The area to search has several sandy islands in the river.


TRAIL MAP

Trail Map

BE WARNED

  1. The river used to be surrounded by a gorgeous hemlock forest of several hundred year old trees, (no really, it was like a magical elf level fairy land forest). Thanks to the wooly adelgid these are now gone, but their children are still struggling to make a comeback. So be kind to the baby hemlocks, and avoid rubbing up against them and carrying the wooly adelgids on your clothes to new forests for them to kill!
  2. The rocks in question (both Ellicott’s Rock and Commissioner’s Rock) are not visible when the water is up! If you need to see them, you need to come during a dry spell.
  3. You cannot camp near the trail head or along the road or along the river near either of the above. Plan accordingly.
  4. The rocks are hard to find and the inscriptions are faint. You may need water proof shoes and be willing to get muddy to find them.

In sum: 

The interesting bit about all this is because Georgia failed to give Ellicott good survey equipment and failed to contest the mis-survey of the state boundary today Georgia fights with Tennessee over water rights for water in the Tennessee River that it would have had – if it had gotten the survey done correctly!

SOUTH CAROLINA: Chattooga Trail to Spoonauger Falls

This is a nice, super short hike to a large and picturesque falls. If you’re hiking the Chattooga River, or shipwrecked and marooned by one of the many rafting company tours, check it out!


Is it goat approved? I will probably hike the Chattooga Trail with a goat at some point, but not today. There is little goat acceptable forage along the river except for hemlocks (which are near threatened and will probably be endangered in the future – so no eating) and there are tons of highly poisonous mountain laurel and rhododendron bushes around. You would need to bring chaffe hay to feed the goat. Or it will eat the poisonous stuff and croak…

How you get there:  You want to go to the Chattooga Trail Trailhead off Forest Rd. 646 located at34°58’29.3″N 83°06’53.1″W.

Time for the hike:  1 mile out and back  from the parking area/trail head to the waterfall and back. The hike is mostly along the river and flat or nearly flat ground, until you turn to go to the falls, then there’s some minor uphill switch backing. I would rate this as family friendly and easy, but you will need balance to cross the water crossing and in wet weather water proof shoes would be a good idea.

Best season to do this hike: Straight up winter. No bugs from the muddy sections of the trail, fewer people, and better breezes.


Trails to Take

If you start off at the trail head park on the side of the road, (or go up the road towards Hwy 107 and park at the big parking area) and then hike down the trail. The route is easy, follows the river, and requires no uphill or down hill hiking. There is one significant stream crossing that may be a problem if you have bad balance or do not have water proof shoes about a mile in, just before the turn off to Spoonauger Falls. The side trail is marked, and goes off to your right up the stream you just crossed. This section IS uphill, along a series of short switch backs, then across to the base of the falls, which requires a minor rock scramble to reach. Easy, kid friendly, and definitely worth a visit.

Chattooga River
Spoonauger Falls

TRAIL MAP

Trail Map

BE WARNED

  1. The river used to be surrounded by a gorgeous hemlock forest of several hundred year old trees, (no really, it was like a magical elf level fairy land forest). Thanks to the wooly adelgid these are now gone, but their children are still struggling to make a comeback. So be kind to the baby hemlocks, and avoid rubbing up against them and carrying the wooly adelgids on your clothes to new forests for them to kill!
  2. The stream crossing on the hike about a mile from Forest Service Rd 646 will require some balance and possibly getting your toes wet. My mother has a bad knee and did not feel comfortable trying to cross this area with non-water proof shoes.
  3. You cannot camp near the trail head or along the road or along the river near either of the above. Plan accordingly.

In sum: 

Why is it that the release of potential energy through gravity assisted water transference is always so totally worth getting muddy, spending gas money, and endangering the cohesive unity of your oil pan for?

SOUTH CAROLINA: Chattooga Trail to the Wahalla State Fish Hatchery

My husband grew up on a fish hatchery in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Since I’m from South Carolina and I am of the opinion that nowhere on the planet is better than South Carolina and we should all take care of South Carolina so it will always be better than everywhere else and how my husband should like the state as much as I do because I am obviously right about everything (and so on and so forth, you get the idea) I took him to see South Carolina’s only cold water fish hatchery.

His impression: “yep, it smells like a fish hatchery.”


Is it goat approved? I will probably hike the Chattooga Trail with a goat at some point, but I would not hike to the fish hatchery with one because the fish hatchery has a lot of people and is surrounded by a fence that you wouldn’t want to take a pack goat inside.

How you get there:  You want to go to the Chattooga Trail Trailhead off Forest Rd. 646 located at34°58’29.3″N 83°06’53.1″W.

Time for the hike:  8 miles out and back  from the parking area/trail head to the fish hatchery and back. The hike is mostly along the river and flat or nearly flat ground, until you turn to go to the hatchery, then there’s a little up and down hill. I would rate this as family friendly and easy, but you will need balance to cross the water crossings and in wet weather water proof shoes would be a good idea.

Best season to do this hike: Straight up winter. No bugs from the muddy sections of the trail, fewer people, and better breezes.


Trails to Take

If you start off at the trail head park on the side of the road, (or go up the road towards Hwy 107 and park at the big parking area) and then hike down the trail. The route is easy, follows the river, and rarely requires any uphill or down hill hiking. There is one significant stream crossing that may be a problem if you have bad balance or do not have water proof shoes about a mile in, just before the turn off to Spoonauger Falls. There used to be a bridge here, but there isn’t anymore.

Trout fisherman on the Chattooga

The trail continues along the river, beginning to pass rustic campsites (note camping is not allowed anywhere near the trail head or along the river near the road) and eventually terminating in a large open area where the trout fishermen generally camp during the January to February fishing season. Walk straight through this confusing mess, following the Chattooga River and you will see a bridge crossing a significant tributary joining the Chatooga. Cross the bridge, and on the far side signage will indicate you need to go right and hike 2.5 miles to the fish hatchery.

Fish Hatchery shelter for picnics

The trail here follows the tributary (East Fork Chattooga River), climbing along the valley edge, past a rock face and through open and frankly kind of boring wood land. It goes on for a while, then you reach an old and very mossy foot bridge over the tributary, pass through the standing skeletons and carcasses of wooly adelgid killed hundred year old hemlocks, and now you are on fish hatchery property. The trail comes up behind a picturesque parkitecture picnic shelter, joins a board walk, and leads you up to the hatchery proper, which can be toured. There are cool pools full of different life stages of trout. They grow Brook, Brown, and Rainbow trout here for release for sport fishing in the South Carolina mountains.

Trout in fish hatchery ponds
Wahalla State Fish Hatchery

TRAIL MAP

Trail Map

BE WARNED

  1. The hatchery used to be surrounded by a gorgeous hemlock forest of several hundred year old trees, (no really, it was like a magical elf level fairy land forest). Thanks to the wooly adelgid these are now gone, but their children are still struggling to make a comeback. So be kind to the baby hemlocks, and avoid rubbing up against them and carrying the wooly adelgids on your clothes to new forests for them to kill!
  2. The concrete blocks across the stream are not connected to that rock face – and they will tilt and dump you down the mountain.
  3. The hike is is up hill somewhat even though the hatchery, if you’ve driven to it, is in a very obvious valley.
  4. The first stream crossing on the hike about a mile from Forest Service Rd 646 will require some balance and possibly getting your toes wet. My mother has a bad knee and did not feel comfortable trying to cross this area with non-water proof shoes.
  5. You cannot camp near the trail head or along the road or along the river near either of the above. Plan accordingly.
Be careful of the unsecured concrete blocks if you don’t want to be dumped down the mountain!

In sum: 

If they had a trout restaurant just down the trail from the hatchery this place would be paradise. Or maybe a catch and cook your own fish deal…