It has been much harder than I might have expected to go hiking during the summer. My weekends have been filled up with other activities and distractions, but I started jonesing for the outdoors, so I made some time for a quick trip into the mountains. Due to time constraints, I decided to go to a place I've been before, Glassy Mountain, a short hike just north of Pickens, SC.
In late May, I took what turned out to be a 7 or 8 mile hike in upstate South Carolina, just north of Walhalla. The Blue Ridge Railroad Historical Trail is a 2.5-mile in-and-out trail that begins at Stumphouse Tunnel Park and follows an incomplete railbed for the Blue Ridge Railroad. This railroad was begun in 1852, with the intent of connecting Knoxville, TN with Charleston, SC. The railroad itself was to involve a line to be built from Anderson, SC to Knoxville, through 13 tunnels that were to be dug as part of the project.
The Parson's Mountain Recreation Area is just outside of Abbeville, SC, which is about an hour and a half south of the Clemson area. I got to be rather familiar with this route, as I had tried multiple times to take this trail. I had been looking for a different place to hike, and I had found the loop trail around the lake at Parson's Mountain on the internet. This was my third time trying to hike this trail, and I finally found the park to be open for the spring.
The day after I hiked up to Rainbow Falls, I decided to take another quick trip in the morning, to Blue Hole Falls. This is a short, half-mile hike to the waterfall, which flows out between cliffs into a pool of water. It is this pool of water that gives the falls its name. I figured a swift in-and-out hike, but it ended up a bit longer than expected.
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.
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.