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Date Hiked: 8/6/88
Length: 9.2 miles
Blaze: white for Foothills Trail, yellow for Bartram Trail, black for Chattooga Trail
Main Features: Chattooga River
Animals: black rat snake, large beetles
Location: Sumter National Forest, South Carolina
The trail begins at the intersection of highway 107 and forest service road 710. Driving north on highway 107, FSR 710 is on the right 6.3 miles from highway 28 and 3.9 miles past the entrance to Oconee State Park. Driving south on highway 107, road 710 is on the left 9.2 miles south of the North Carolina state line. Turn onto road 710 for a few feet and park in the open area on the left. The trail begins on the other side of highway 107.
The first 2.4 miles is a gradual descent from highway 107 to the Chattooga Trail. (Hiking only to the Chattooga Trail and then backtracking offers a shorter hike of 4.8 miles.) I saw more different types of fungi along this trail than I have seen on any trail to date. I also saw four large beetles which I think were European ground beetles. There are five bridges.
After turning right on the Chattooga Trail, the trail becomes narrower and less level. A steady climb takes you to the top of a ridge where there is a valley on each side. You can hear the cascading Chattooga River ahead on your left as you descend into the valley. Finally, you may sit on a boulder by the river and enjoy the river. (I had the good fortune of seeing a black rat snake here. I have hiked portions of the Chattooga Trail five times so far, and each time I have encountered at least one snake.)
From highway 107 to the Chattooga Trail blazes are white for the Foothills Trail and yellow for the Bartram Trail. Right after the second bridge (at 0.9 miles) there is a trail on the left that goes to Thrift Lake parking lot. (Thrift Lake parking lot is for overnight users of the Foothills Trail and Chattooga Trail. The trail to the parking lot is only about 0.1 miles long. The parking lot is on Nicholson Ford Road, which is accessible from highway 107 via Village Creek Road.) Continue straight here. After about a mile and a half you come to a gravel parking area at the end of Nicholson Ford Road. Follow the right side of the gravel area to the place the trail reenters the woods. The trail is clearly marked. Turn right at the Chattooga Trail junction.
The Chattooga Trail has black blazes. The Foothills Trail, Bartram Trail, and Chattooga Trail are all one here. Soon, the correct trail turns up and to the right while the trail you are on continues ahead to the left. The right turn has a black blaze, but it is easy to miss. After you begin descending from the ridge, you will see the Chattooga River through the trees. There is a place where water runs across the trail among small stones. Directly after this spot, there is a very steep and dangerous spur trail on the left that goes down to the edge of the river. This spur trail leads down to a sandbar and boulders. Be very careful if you choose to descend to the river here. Backtrack.
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