Quercus Ilicifolia Blog

After a few deeply challenging weeks, a trip up to Rainbow Falls in the Mountain Bridge Wilderness Area of South Carolina was just what I needed. The hike is not an easy one, but the view of the waterfall at the end makes the cost in sore muscles worth paying. The Rainbow Falls Trail itself is 2.2 miles, but in order to get to the trail, one has to walk along the Jones Gap Trail for a mile or so.

This week I had taken a few days off, and my in-laws had gotten into town the weekend before. On the last day of their visit, they joined me for a short hike in Devil's Fork State Park in upstate South Carolina. The trail we took is the Oconee Bells Trail, which is a 1-mile loop through the park. The trail is named for the Oconee Bell, one of the rarest wildflowers in the United States.

The day before Easter, I wanted to go for another hike, but I also had plans to hang out with my nephew in the early afternoon, so I needed to make it a short one, and one near to my brother's house. This led me to Dukes Creek Falls, in North Georgia, just north of Helen.

I had seen the entrance to this trailhead many times before, on my way to other hikes off of the Richard B. Russell scenic highway, such as Raven Cliff Falls. However, I had never seen fit to try it out. In the end, I'm very glad I took the chance, on a chilly morning.

Back to the Mountain Bridge Wilderness Area in upstate SC, this time for the Coldspring Branch Trail. Originally, I had intended to take the Coldspring Branch Trail, a 2.6-mile trail and then come back along the Bill KImball trail. When I conferred with the ranger at the Caesar's Head Visitor's Center, however, she advised that I come back along the Jones Gap Trail, which would be another 2.5 miles or so, to complete the loop.

Today's hike is Raven Cliff Falls, this time in Georgia. This is the third time I've been on this hike, and it is another favorite of mine. It is about 2.5 miles one-way and moderate, with a couple of major elevation changes, the highest right at the end. The trail follows Dodd Creek all the way to twin cliffs with a waterfall that flows between them. The trail itself is in the North Georgia mountains, near Helen, off of the Richard B. Russell Scenic Highway.

I was looking for a quick hike on the first Sunday afternoon in March, and so I found the Fant's Grove Wilderness Management Area. I decided to take the Johnstone/Fox trail, a 2.5 mile multi-use trail. It turns out to be between Clemson, SC and Anderson, SC, closer to Clemson. After a few wrong turns, I found the trailhead and set off to see how this trail would go.

On the last weekend in January, I headed out to Oconee State Park to try out the Tamassee Knob trail, a moderate 2.1-mile hike (one-way) to the top of a 1,620-foot peak in upstate South Carolina. A beautiful hike, made a little more interesting by lingering ice from the previous cold night and some fantastic low-lying clouds.

Later in January, my brother and I decided to hike a loop of trails in Amicalola State Park. We got to the park, and he rather ingeniously took a picture of the map at the visitor's center, since I wasn't able to get enough signal to download one. Looking at the map, we decided to start off on the Spring trail, which leads down to the Mountain Laurel Trail (called the Green Mountain trail in my hiking guides). The trail ends at the Creek trail, which continues the loop over to the Appalachian Approach Trail, which goes up to the falls.

So, in mid-January, I headed over to Caesar's Head State Park, to do some more hiking in the Mountain Bridge Wilderness Area, north of Greenville, SC. This is the same area as the Frank Coggins Trail, which I have done a few times. On this occasion, I decided upon the Raven Cliff Falls Trail, a moderate 2.2-mile trail.

To start off my hiking in 2013, I returned to the place I started this blog with, the Keowee-Toxaway State Natural Area. In my first blog post, I described my hike along the Raven Rock Trail. The trailheads for the Raven Rock Trail are off of the Natural Bridge Trail, a moderate trail that takes just under an hour to travel. The main feature of the Natural Bridge Trail is, as one would expect, a rock bridge that traverses one of the creeks that can be seen along the trail. Overall, the trail is pretty moderate, although there is a rather strenuous segment near the end to be aware of.

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