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Skyline
09-21-2004, 10:00
Planning a thru-hike (with friends) of the Foothills Trail along the North Carolina/South Carolina border right after the Gathering, beginning Columbus Day.

Do any of y'all who live nearby have any fresh info about conditions now that Ivan has passed? It seems your area took quite a hit. I'm wondering specifically about:

--Any footbridges out? If so, are there safe (non-fording) alternative routes? For example, I see that Hurricane Frances took out a bridge in the Whitewater Falls area but they have a detour posted on the FT site. Nothing yet on their site re: Ivan damage, tho.

--Has access to trailheads at Sassafras Mt., Bad Creek Access, Burrells Ford, or Occonee State Park been affected?

--From the Gathering, we're taking I-77S to I-40W to just west of Asheville, but well east of Waynesville, then dropping down via local roads to US64W, then to the Bad Creek Access area (SC130). Are these roads passable?

--Are there many trees down on the FT itself? Enough to make it inadvisable to hike?

Thanks in advance, and I realize maybe not enough time has passed to get solid answers to all these questions, but maybe in a few days the picture will become clearer and I'll check back then. At some point as we get closer to early October I may call the National Forest and State Park ranger offices that touch the FT but don't want to bother them right now. If I find out anything I'll post it here too.

Flash Hand
09-21-2004, 12:17
After seeing the TV news, probably you can bring kayak and lifesaving vest with you on your thru hike. <g>

Flash Hand :jump

Goon
09-21-2004, 15:07
A couple of days old: (Sep 19th)

"The Pisgah and Nantahala national forests and 11 western state parks remain closed because of danger from falling trees, mudslides and flooding caused by the remnants of Hurricane Ivan.

Here are examples of Frances' damage before Ivan's winds and rains arrived:

...

A major rockslide at Whitewater Falls in Transylvania County has blocked access to the Foothills Trail.

..."

http://www.charlotte.com/mld/observer/sports/outdoors/9703272.htm?1c

Skyline
09-23-2004, 09:53
Heyward Douglass, Head of Trail Maintenance Foothills Trail Conference returned this brief note to one of the hikers planning to go in October re: Foothills Trail conditions (on 9/21):

"Although I have only gotten a couple of reports so far (which aren't good), I would anticipate encountering a good many downed trees along the trail. We are trying to gather info during the next several days, and I will try to let you know what we find out sometime later."

Skyline
10-06-2004, 22:21
Update: We've done enough long distance reconnaisance to realize that the Foothills Trail is not gonna happen this year for us. There may be parts that are generally hikeable, but with bridges out, trees down, and access to certain trailheads questionable right now, doing the whole FT in the time available to us is unlikely so ... maybe next year?

We've switched gears and are going to spend the better part of the week after The Gathering in the Mt. Rogers/Grayson Highlands/Iron Mt. Trail area. When the weather cooperates, and it seems like it might, there's no place else in Virginia I'd rather be hiking. Check out a thread in the "Hooking Up" section if you're interested in joining us.

Nightwalker
10-06-2004, 23:21
Heyward Douglass, Head of Trail Maintenance Foothills Trail Conference returned this brief note to one of the hikers planning to go in October re: Foothills Trail conditions (on 9/21):

"Although I have only gotten a couple of reports so far (which aren't good), I would anticipate encountering a good many downed trees along the trail. We are trying to gather info during the next several days, and I will try to let you know what we find out sometime later."There's a big rockslide at Whitewater Falls. I have no idea if it's upper or lower, but you can't go through at Bad Creek on the short-but-hard section between upper and lower.

If I'm getting it right, you have to roadwalk--from the Table Rock side--up the two mile road into Bad Creek pump station, approximately 1/2 mile north on 107, then back into the woods across from the upper Whitewater Falls parking area.

There's a lot of downfall this year, but I'll be danged if it's gonna keep me outta the woods! Maybe I'll just end up hitch-hiking back to Franklin and go north a bit more from Standing Indian. Bush-whacking is better than not hiking!

Ridge
06-10-2006, 21:48
I've got a question for the FHT area hikers. I just got off the phone with a friend that had just finished the hike from WhiteWater Falls to Oconee SP. He says it looks like the trail has been abandoned. Is there a problem getting trail maintenance people over in Carolina? I haven't hiked the trail for some 10 years, yes it looked rough in a couple of spots, but all in all pretty good. My buddy asked some local hikers at a store on hwy 11 about it, they claim the USFS has made it almost impossible to get approvals, etc to just get in and maintain it. I find all this hard to believe. Has anyone had trouble with USFS people in their areas, as far as trail maintenance on forest svc lands? I wonder if its also some other groups, like Duke Power, SC State Parks people, etc. that has cut funds for maintenance, etc?? Its a beautiful 70 mile trail, and a shame if its indeed that bad. How does the NC sections of trail compare to the SC side??? Are these two different groups keeping up the two different areas??

Nightwalker
06-10-2006, 22:06
I've got a question for the FHT area hikers. I just got off the phone with a friend that had just finished the hike from WhiteWater Falls to Oconee SP. He says it looks like the trail has been abandoned. Is there a problem getting trail maintenance people over in Carolina? I haven't hiked the trail for some 10 years, yes it looked rough in a couple of spots, but all in all pretty good. My buddy asked some local hikers at a store on hwy 11 about it, they claim the USFS has made it almost impossible to get approvals, etc to just get in and maintain it. I find all this hard to believe. Has anyone had trouble with USFS people in their areas, as far as trail maintenance on forest svc lands? I wonder if its also some other groups, like Duke Power, SC State Parks people, etc. that has cut funds for maintenance, etc?? Its a beautiful 70 mile trail, and a shame if its indeed that bad. How does the NC sections of trail compare to the SC side??? Are these two different groups keeping up the two different areas??The trail's fine. I was at that very section just a couple of weeks ago. At least the section from Oconee SP to Burrell's Ford.

Yes, different sections are maintained by different groups. Duke Power handles the biggest chunk, and they do the best job--they have the biggest budget. The USFS owns a large part, including the Whitewater corridor. The trail goes into land owned by a number of state parks, including Table Rock, Oconee, Toxoway, and two or three more with names I can't remember.

As far as I know, the part that isn't maintained by Duke Power is maintained totally by FTC volunteers. When there's a bad storm, it takes awhile to get people in there to clear blowdowns, but as recently as a week past TDz, I didn't see many blowdowns.

As to the SC/NC thing, there aren't very many miles in NC, and almost all of that is on USFS land, plus some along the edge of a state park, the name of which I've forgotten.

The new map is due from the printers just about any time, and sales from that will help pay for some of the work that straight volunteerism couldn't do anyway.

Perhaps your friend missed a blaze and followed some old trailbed? It's happened to me on the section that goes into and out of the Chattooga gorge, and though it's still trail at that point, it's ugly, choked-up trail.

HTH

Ridge
06-11-2006, 00:43
Thanks Nightwalker, Thats good to here. Before your reply I was trying to locate, in my records, the name of a FHT maintenance guy I met the last time I hiked over there, and ask him. I knew Duke did a good job on their lands, much better than the others. I hiked just about everything over in that area and I still tell people that the 80 or so miles of trail in the Caesars Head/Jones Gap area is some of the toughest around. My biggest surprise over there was how underused the spur trail from Sassafras Mtn to Raven Cliff Falls was. PS: My buddy may have been hitting the weed again and could have been on another trail in another state. Who knows.

Just Jeff
06-11-2006, 09:45
I hiked just about everything over in that area and I still tell people that the 80 or so miles of trail in the Caesars Head/Jones Gap area is some of the toughest around.

Yep - I did the Rim of the Gap about two years ago...there's a section on that trip that was a 2000' climb in about half a mile. The trail was almost 45* incline, no switchbacks to speak of, and grown up on the sides so there wasn't even anywhere to rest. Hot and muggy, too.


My biggest surprise over there was how underused the spur trail from Sassafras Mtn to Raven Cliff Falls was.

Refresh my memory - is that the one to the top of the falls, or the one across the valley looking at the face? The one to the face was teaming with people, and very wide (the trail, not the people), when I went. Just before that, I crossed the falls and I don't remember seeing anyone until I made it out to the dirt road.

Actually, I saw very few people on both the FT and the Rim of the Gap hikes - only around the trailheads and parking lots. The only trail with more than a few people on it was the Jones Gap Trail right there at the park - where it parallels the river with no elevation change.

Haha - and I remember Whitewater Falls had the first trash can I'd seen in 50 miles.

Ridge
06-13-2006, 01:45
........Refresh my memory - is that the one to the top of the falls, or the one across the valley looking at the face? The one to the face was teaming with people, and very wide (the trail, not the people), when I went. Just before that, I crossed the falls and I don't remember seeing anyone until I made it out to the dirt road.......... .

The trail up from Jones Gap that crosses Mathews Ck and then crosses the suspension bridge at the top of Raven Cliff Falls ends shortly at the Spur Trail, take a left to go to Sassafras Mtn and jnct with FHT 10+miles, Right to go to the parking lot for Raven Cliff Falls 2 or so miles and on to Jones Gap SP. If returning to the RC parking lot, you will pass the deadend trail to the falls lookout, also will pass the Dismal Trail which leads to Mathews Ck and jnct with the first described tr from Jones Gap to the FHT spur trail.

The Solemates
06-13-2006, 09:04
I hiked just about everything over in that area and I still tell people that the 80 or so miles of trail in the Caesars Head/Jones Gap area is some of the toughest around.

absolutely. this trail is certainly tough, expecially the sections around laurel fork falls. ive never seen so many steps. we used this as stomping grounds for AT training.

Nearly Normal
06-13-2006, 21:03
In March I hiked the Fork Mountain Spur down to the Chattooga River then on to Oconnee State Park. The only problems we had was the upper section of the River because the branches were low. I e-mailed the FTC to report the conditions and they told me they straightened this out. Contact the FTC when you plan to hike this trail and help out.
Hike this river section when you can. It will always call you back.
Super hike.
Pete

Just Jeff
06-14-2006, 03:22
When I first descended to the river, I thought I was in a movie. It was a 90* turn, pretty wide at that point, with a steep cliff on the other side and a guy fly fishing the shallows. One of the best views of the entire trail. I just stood there and watched for several minutes.

Ridge
06-14-2006, 14:20
FYI. The FHT can be accessed even better in the hunting season. The Game Mgnt people open gates to areas all along the trail. You really need a 4x4 or ATV to do it. The last time I went in and camped near the lake we had to pull some guys out in a Ford Ranger to get thru. Low vehicle clearance is a big no-no up there when on the hunting access roads.

Just Jeff
06-14-2006, 14:46
Better views in wintertime, too. I came to lots of places where the guidebook talked about the great views, but all I saw was green.

Ridge
06-14-2006, 14:48
Better views in wintertime, too. I came to lots of places where the guidebook talked about the great views, but all I saw was green.

There probably were good views, even in spring, when the guide was written.....20 years earlier with no trees blocking the view.

Just Jeff
06-14-2006, 14:57
Mine is dated 1998...do they not update the whole thing for subsequent editions?

Ridge
06-14-2006, 15:14
Mine is dated 1998...do they not update the whole thing for subsequent editions?

Most of the time only MAJOR trail changes are noted in guidebooks, the other info may just be transferred from one issue to the next. Same goes for pictures, example: I know of a guide book that still shows a large oak in one of it's pictures, the tree has been gone for 20+ years.