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Date Hiked: 7/3/88
Length: 4.2 miles
Blaze: white on Foothills Trail, orange on Tamassee Knob Trail
Main Feature: view from Tamassee Knob
Location: Oconee State Park, South Carolina
Oconee State Park is located on highway 107, 2.4 miles north of the 107 junction with highway 28. Driving down highway 107 from North Carolina, the park is 14.4 miles from the North Carolina state line. There is a small fee to enter the park during the busy seasons ($1.50 per car in 1988). Enter the park and turn right towards the camping area at the first fork. Continue past the various park buildings. At the next fork turn right towards cabins 7-13. After about 0.2 miles there is a pull-off on the left and a sign that says "Foothills Trail." Turn around and park. The trailhead is 0.8 miles from the park entrance.
A fun thing about this trail is that it follows the crest of a ridge so that at times there are valleys on both sides of the trail. The first part of the trail is relatively flat as it winds its way through open woods. Then there are gentle hills through rhododendron thickets where pale, green, almost-fluorescent moss covers the woodland debris beside the trail. As you ascend the left side of the ridge the undergrowth becomes more abundant. Along the crest wildflowers are plentiful. Here you catch occasional views through the trees on your right and your left. Sound travels very well here so that you can hear voices, car engines, dogs, and other sounds from more than a mile away in the valley below. Here's a picture of Tamassee Knob taken from the Long Mountain Lookout Tower.
I was more aware of wildlife along this trail than I am on most trails. Perhaps it was because I was alone and walked quietly. Perhaps the dark drizzling weather at the end of a hot drought made the animals more active. Whatever the cause, I saw or heard many animals during the hike. I heard blue jays, crows, mockingbirds, and several birds I could not identify. I startled one large hawk-sized bird that was standing in the trail as I came around a bend. It fled before I could get a good look. Other wildlife included gray squirrels, a chipmunk, and a box turtle. I also smelled the strong musk smell of a mink or a bobcat.
Follow the Foothills Trail until it crosses a dirt road and comes to a junction at 0.4 miles. At this point the white-blazed Foothills Trail turns left and the orange-blazed Tamassee Knob Trail turns right. About 0.3 miles farther, the trail joins an old road. Make note of this spot since you must turn off the old road here on your return trip. At one place near the crest of the ridge, there is an unmarked fork. The path to the right is dangerous and difficult. The left path is correct. (These paths rejoin just ahead.) The trail officially ends at a rock from which you can view the valley and mountains to the north. "END" is painted in orange on a tree to the right of the trail here. The path continues. If you do not pay attention, you may not realize that you are at the end of the trail. Backtrack.
The orange blazes of the Tamassee Knob Trail are infrequent (I only spotted 5 on my way back). There are still some old white blazes. An old blaze is very large (and dim) due to the tree's growth. You will also notice bright red paint on trees whenever you cross the state park's boundary.
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