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Foothills Trail

Saturday, March 16, 2024 - Saturday, March 23, 2024 -- $1600 ★★

The wild and beautiful Foothills National Scenic Trail is a not-all-that-well-known gem of a trail tucked up in the northwest corner of South Carolina. Although the Foothills Trail is not a household name, the October 2010 issue of Backpacker Magazine listed the Foothills Trail as one of the ten best long distance trails (50+ miles) in the country. It earned this designation by virtue of the high quality of the trail (and trail maintenance), its guidebook and map.

The Foothills trail traverses the heart of the Jocassee Gorges area. This is notable because National Geographic named the Jocassee Gorges one of "50 of the World’s Last Great Places".

This year's hike begins at Table Rock State Park. We'll hike Westbound with the ultimate goal of reaching 411' tall Whitewater Falls at the end of the week. Along the way, the trail traverses several picturesque rivers and waterfalls including Hilliard Falls and Virginia Hawkins Falls. Virginia Hawkins Falls was named by one of your guides (Bruce) believe it or not.

Peak baggers take note: As a bonus we will summit Sassafrass Mountain, the highest point in South Carolina at 3563', where you can enjoy the panoramic view from the visitor viewing platform.

We will be hiking towards the end of the Spring wildflower season and will hopefully spot rare Oconee Bells which grow nowhere else in North America.

As another bonus, we expect to store a resupply along the way so that we won't be carrying more than half a week's food at a time.

Topographical Map of Proposed Route

See CalTopo map


Weather is always an important concern when hiking. Expect daytime hiking temperatures in the 70s and 80s and nighttime temperatures in the 50s. However, be prepared for the possibility of day temperatures as high as th 90s and nights in the 30s. Expect a day (or more) of rainfall which makes for aesthetic waterfalls and means we won't have to carry a lot of water. Here is the historical weather for the nearby (but higher elevation) Great Smoky Mountains.

Probable Trip Leaders

Bruce Cannon
Collin Chambers
Any Other Guide(s) TBD


The Foothills trail is well marked and well maintained by a large group of volunteers. Water is abundant from the many headwaters that feed into the four major river systems the trail traverses. The trail can be very rugged at times, but there's usually clear and solid footing with stairs and/or staircases along most of the steepest climbs and descents.

While all Fatpacking trips are difficult at least some of the time, this one should be considered more attainable than others because of the solid footing and excellent terrain. As with every backpacking trip, expect the going to be difficult at times. This is the nature of carrying all your gear on your back for a week. Additionally, we expect to cache food mid-trip so we'll' only carry half as much as we typically do, rendering pack weights at least somewhat lighter.


$1600 per person double occupancy. Here, double occupancy means that you will share a hotel room with another trip participant. You will be responsible for transportation to and from Greenville-Spartanburg Airport (GSP), as well as personal equipment, restaurant meals and any gratuities for guides. You may also incur parking charges for leaving your car at the hotel all week (probably none, but they sometimes charge for this).

Covered expenses include 1 hotel night, 1 night in a front country campground in Table Rock State Park, 6 days of trail meals, ground transportation to/from Greenville, SC and the trail, National Forest permits, backcountry permits and awesome guides.

Tipping: In order to keep our prices competitive with (and hopefully favorable to) other outfitters, we shamefully can’t pay our guides as much as we think they deserve. Like most other guiding services, we rely on the generosity of our participants to make up this shortfall by tipping the guides. While tips are not required or expected, if your guides have served you well, please consider a gratuity so they can continue living their extravagant lifestyles of eating powdered meals, sleeping in the dirt and pooping in smelly outhouses and small holes they've dug.


Here is a great interactive map of the trail.

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Guides for this trip
Important Note
Difficulty (Please Read)


Saturday, March 16, 2024

Drive or fly into Greenville-Spartanburg Airport (GSP). The best time to arrive is between around Noon-3PM. However, if you can save a substantial amount on your flight by arriving a few hours earlier, then do so.

Call for a free shuttle to our local hotel where we'll gather before heading off to the trail.

We will assemble at: TBD, To Be Determined

Mini equipment shakedown. We double-check your pack for any items you may have omitted or forgotten after your pre-trip online shakedown.

Trail mix distribution from our make-your-own Trail Mix Bar

"Before" body composition measurements taken

Go to REI Greenville, 1140 Woodruff Rd Ste 400, Greenville, SC 29607, (864) 297-0588 for last minute equipment if necessary

At around 3PM, shuttle to campsite: TBD, To Be Determined Site(s) TBD

Guides prepare dinner in camp. On some trips with longer shuttle times, we may opt to go out for an opening dinner at a local restaurant. (Cost of restaurant dinner not included in trip price)

Camp at TBD, To Be Determined Site(s) TBD

Sunday, March 17, 2024

Second set of "before" measurements taken

All the items that you won't bring on the trail will be set aside and put in storage

Guides will take 1-2 hours to shuttle a car to Bad Creek parking lot and leave food / fuel cache at Laurel Valley for mid-trip pick up

Begin Hiking at Table Rock State Park, elevation 1150'

Hike 5.0 miles on the Foothills Trail to the Lighthouse Campsite, elevation 2500'

Camp at Lighthouse Campsite, elevation 2500'. Note: There is a flat, open camping area about 0.2 miles before (East of) the Lighthouse if we have a large group and need overflow camping.

Miles today: 5.0. Total miles: 5.0

Possible Bailout: Table Rock State Park

Monday, March 18, 2024

Hike 4.6 miles to the summit of Sassafras Mtn, elevation 3554'

Congratulations! You have summitted the highest peak in South Carolina

Hike 3.5 downhill miles to Chimney Top Campsite, elevation 2200'

Camp at Chimney Top Campsite, elevation 2200'

Miles today 8.1, total 13.1

Possible bailout: Sassafras Mtn or Laurel Valley/Hwy 178

Tuesday, March 19, 2024

Hike 0.5 downhill miles to Highway 178, Laurel Valley, elevation 1650'

Pick up food and fuel resupply for the rest of the trip

Hike 2.8 miles to Flat Rock Campsite, elevation 2300'

Hike 4.5 miles past Virginia Hawkins Falls to Laurel Fork Falls, elevation 1300'

Camp at Laurel Fork Falls Camp, elevation 1300'

Miles today: 7.8, total 20.9

Possible bailout: Laurel Valley/Hwy 178

Wednesday, March 20, 2024

Today will be our longest day and has 2 significant climbs

Hike 5.5 miles up and over Heartbreak Ridge to Toxaway, elevation 1125'

Heartbreak Ridge is a moderately short, but very steep uphill climb followed almost immediately by a moderately short, but very steep downhill climb. You will find it challenging.

Have lunch at Toxaway. The swimming in Lake Jocassee at Toxaway will be refreshing and inviting after Heartbreak Ridge and hopefully cool you down from the midday sun. Possible bonus: Toxaway has a new outhouse that was built in 2023.

Cross a 225' suspension bridge over the Toxaway River.

Hike 5.6 miles to Bear Gap Camp, elevation 1350'

Camp at Bear Gap Camp, elevation 1350'. The site is pretty roomy but sits low.

Miles today: 11.1, total 31.0

Possible bailout: Canebrake (by boat)

Thursday, March 21, 2024

Today's hike features a steep downhill and uphill to Horsepasture. There will be many stairs to descend and climb. The banks of Horsepasture are very pleasant and Oconee Bells can often be found near the river on the West side.

Hike 2.3 miles to Horsepasture, elevation 1125'

Hike 4.4 uphill miles to Coley Creek Camp, elevation 2025'

Camp Coley Creek Camp, elevation 2025'. Water can be found a few hundred meters past the campsite.

Miles today: 6.7. Total miles: 37.7

Possible bailout: Horsepasture (by boat)

Friday, March 22, 2024

Hike 3.1 miles to the Lower Whitewater Falls Spur Trail, elevation 2100'

Drop packs and day-hike 2.0 round trip miles the Lower Whitewater Falls Overlook, elevation 1825'

Hike 1.2 miles to the Bad Creek Parking lot, elevation 1950'

End of hiking

Possible bailout: Bad Creek Parking Lot

Miles today: 6.3. Total miles: 44.0

Car shuttle up to Upper Whitewater Falls for a view of the iconic 411' cascade

Shuttle back to local hotel: TBD, To Be Determined

Gather your off-trail items from storage

After body composition measurements taken

Dinner and awards ceremony at a local restaurant (Dinner cost not included in trip price)

Stay in our local hotel (included in trip cost)

This is the official end of the trip. You are welcome to spend the night at the hotel, however if you drove and would like to get on the road or if you flew and would like to schedule a late flight (or a red-eye if this is a West Coast trip) you can definitely do so.

Saturday, March 23, 2024

Take free airport shuttle or we will pay for a shared cab/Uber

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