The Foothills Trail runs for 76 miles along the Blue Ridge Escarpment and will take you on a journey through dense forests, to 2 National Wild and Scenic Rivers and other rivers and streams, and to gorgeous waterfalls. If you plan to hike here, I would highly recommend getting the Foothills Trail Guide from the Foothills Org. The guide has lots of info and history about the trail and points out things of interest along the way. Instead of plagiarizing any more from the book, I'm just going to give you my experiences on the trail. Most of the trail is in South Carolina, but it also crosses into NC. I haven't hiked much of it yet, but it's high on the long list of things to do.
Our first hike on the trail was actually a trip to Lower Whitewater Falls in 1999. If you are on the Foothills Trail, there's a spur trail to the falls in section 7. We came in from the Bad Creek access which makes this about a 3.5 mile round trip hike. The parking area is about 1/2 mile past the NC Whitewater Falls at the Bad Creek Pumped Storage Station on the left. Drive up to the gate and it will automatically open if no one is at the guard station. The 1st parking lot on the left you come to is the trail head, and the 2nd is the visitors center.
It would be well worth the hike even if these 400 foot falls weren't at the end. You'll walk thru a dense rhododendron 'forest', and thru areas that give a sense of really being out in the wilderness. In 0.7 miles you'll come to 2 steel bridges that cross the Whitewater River. We hung around here for a while, and if the river is low enough, you can rock hop upstream for some nice views of the river. The spur trail then joins the Foothills Trail and in 0.5 miles there's a sign for another spur trail that will take you to a platform to view the falls.
Our next trip was over Easter 2001 week end. I parked my truck at the Whitewater Falls parking area (our destination) in NC, then Linda dropped us off 5 miles up at Brewer Rd. The plan was to hike along the Thompson River to Thompson Falls, camp there, then head another mile down to the Foothills Trail and follow it back to Whitewater Falls. If you can find this falls, you will be rewarded with this awesome view. There's a campsite down below a ways, but we chose to camp on the bedrock with a view of the falls.
For more detailed directions and more photos of the Thompson River and it's falls, you can go to the section on my NC waterfalls site. We set up camp on the huge slab of rock that runs beside the falls and had the whole area to ourselves. Next morning we stayed as close to the river as possible. There was still no trail, so this meant wading in the river, boulder climbing and hopping, and more bushwhacking. We did start to pick up a faint trail the closer we got to the Foothills Trail, but it took us 2 hours to go the appr. 1 mile! We were so glad to finally see the 75' Foothills Trail bridge that crosses the river at mile 13.7 of section 6. Here's a couple of trail shots from the last 2.7 miles of section 6.
The spur trail to Lower Whitewater Falls mentioned above is in this part of the trail and section 6 ends at the bridges that cross Whitewater River and the other spur trail that heads back to Bad Creek access. Section 7 stays on this side of the river and follows the river back to Whitewater Falls where the truck is parked. This section of the trail is very beautiful as you can see from the following photos -
hemlocks and pines
Hal, Harry and I at Corbin Creek bridge
Corbin Creek Falls - up stream from the bridge
The shot above is along a ridge before the trail crosses the Whitewater River. If you want a great view of the bottom section of Whitewater Falls, follow a trail on this side of the river at the metal bridge up river to the falls. It's not an easy trail, but the view is well worth it. To stay on the Foothills Trail, cross the bridge and begin a steep ascent. The trail stays below the parking area, but we headed up to the overlook where the truck was parked and section 7 ends.
So far that's all of the trail I have hiked - only 71 more miles to go!
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