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  1. #1
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    Default Foothills Trail in Summer?

    Looking for comments from anyone familiar with foothills trail. Primarily I'm wondering if the elevations are high enough so that summer temps are somewhat passable for a summer hike....like say late June, July, August.

    I know it's hot and humid, but in a way that's all kind of relative to what you're acclimated to..... What's unbearable for say someone from Canada, might be nothing much for a Florida/Carolina boy. I grew up in coastal NC and currently live in Northern Florida, so I'm somewhat used to it, but here summers are so hot and stifling so I don't like to get outside much.

    As long as nights cool down for sleeping and to suppress bugs I'm generally ok, and that's been my very limited experience in the mountains up around Blowing Rock, Boone, Chimney Rock, etc... I'd rather go up there in cooler seasons, but I'll take what I can get.

    I'm just not as familiar with the Foothills Trail Area.... What sort of temps could a person expect? & buggyness, do they carry you away or not so bad?

  2. #2

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    I've hiked the FHT 4 times, always in early spring, late fall and winter, fewer insects and cooler temps. I avoid b-packing in the Southeast during the summer months May-mid Sept due to heat, humidity, insects especially ticks. The elevation on the FHT isn't high enough for cool nights during the months the OP mentioned. Also during summer months the chance for afternoon/evening t-storms increases.

    I would check average weather for Table Rock SP and Oconee SP, both in SC

  3. #3
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    I tried to thru-hike the FHT one summer. The heat index went above a hundred and kicked my butt, leaving me weak and almost sick. The trail ain't easy peasy. Had to abandon hike as daily miles had dropped and we couldn't finish in time, even had we wanted to keep going. I grew up in SC, so was more used to heat and humidity than some might be. Went back and finished in cooler weather.
    ye shall not pollute the land wherein ye are: ... Defile not therefore the land which ye shall inhabit..... Numbers 35

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  4. #4
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    I just hiked it last week and had the best weather that one could hope for at this time of year...warm but not terribly hot days (low to mid 80's), cool nights into the low to mid 60's and low humidity. One thing that may help is the availability of water...plenty of places to get water (i never carried more than a liter) and also to get in/rinse off/swim. This was a fantastic, diverse and rewarding trail. Easy in a few places but challenging in others. As Rain Man alluded to, one might glance at the elevations involved and underestimate the challenge but the climbs and downhills, while not overly long, are fairly steep. Bugs were not too bad, except for one campsite along Bear Creek where they were awful. i was in my tent at 7 PM to escape them.

    Other comments/thoughts....you will see other hikers (day/section/through) but the trail is not "crowded". However I did see more novice hikers on this trip (attracted by the relatively low elevation as compared to others in the southern mtns.?) Quite a few of them were struggling and one fellow going into the Whitewater Gorge must have had an 80 lb. pack. I really wonder how he got out of there.

    Bottom line, this is a great trail. You may get lucky in the next few weeks with similar conditions as I had...I would check weather at both Table Rock and Oconee State Park as someone suggested above. I parked at Oconee, shuttled to TR and walked back to my truck. I would prefer to hike in the fall/winter but I am a school teacher and have to go in the summer time myself. Hope this helps.

  5. #5

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    What others said. Ticks are not a big problem. Skeeters might be in some low lying, wet, or marshy areas. It's a forested hike so you get shade for most of it although you're exposed to more dappled rays for some duration in some segments. The FHT is known for it's abundant waterfall scenery coming off the BR Escarpments. One downside is the smaller falls and some of the creeks and rivers could not be at their highest volume unless some significant rain recently occurred. With the abundant water are some beautiful places to soak. It's not early spring, fall or winter weather but the humidity shouldnt be St Augustine like. I wouldn't put my hike off. GO! Once out of TR and O SP's the traffic peters off nicely. Busy around Burrells in summer though.

  6. #6
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    i and 2 buddies just did a trail run/hike of a 12 mile stretch near raven cliff falls. we took a break 6 miles in. the guy in front picked off 12 ticks from his body.

    gorgeous. plenty of water.

  7. #7
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    Well it'll be doable in the summer but there aren't really any high elevations. Pinnacle and Sassafras are high but not really high enough to get noticeably cooler temperatures. Plus you aren't on them for that long.

    The first half of the trail is full of steep gorges which aren't fun in the afternoon heat and sun.

    The FHT would not be on my radar for summer hiking. I'd head to a more northern location or plan it for later in the year. Just my 2 cents.

  8. #8

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    I will chime in. If you are looking for weather in that area, I use Mountain Rest, SC as a reference. Elevations are similar and when I car camp, usually in winter, it is usually 5-10 degrees cooler in the area we camp. With that said, I have done several sections of the FT in Summer and I always go in thinking it will be cooler because it's "in the mountains." I am always wrong and the dense cover makes for very little wind and the area is wet and usually has high humidity.

    But..... It's still a beautiful trail so if the only chance you have to go is Summer... do it. Plenty of water around, as mentioned so stay hydrated and enjoy your hike. I love that area!

  9. #9
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    Thanks...I was looking the other day at a topo map and trying to find a weather reporting station that would be close. I didn't find Mountain Rest...thanks.

  10. #10

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    Guess you aren't familiar with the Foothills Trail Conservancy site? https://foothillstrail.org/safety/ Click Weather. It provides the forecast at TR SP.

    https://weather.com/weather/today/l/13507:19:US

  11. #11
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    Am I way off base? New to hiking and new to this site; so thanks to all for the good info I've read and will read.

    I am retired, trying to get in better shape, and want to try some hiking. I have the luxury of no timetables to meet; I can go as far or as little as I want before calling it a day. For my first "real" hike I was thinking of the FHT. Right now is the worst for afternoon thunderstorms, so I've hatched out a possible plan. Take my truck and bicycle, drop and secure the bike at the "next" marked parking area, drive back and hike to the bike. Hop on bike and pedal back to truck. Lather, rinse and repeat the next day and so on. From OSP, designated parking is at miles 6.1, 16.8, 20.6, 23.9, 29.0, 31.7, 47.9, etc. By road those areas are only 5-8 miles apart.

    So, I could start early and be out of the woods by 2 or 3 pm at the very latest. This would allow me to shake down my gear without carrying a full load all the time; camp close to my truck or grab a cheap motel w/in an easy drive; or at worst, hammock on the trail for one night if I monkey before getting to the bike on the longer stretches. OR, should the weather get ugly or the bugs too bad I can bail and go to the house. I live ~3 hrs away.

    My major questions are: Are the roads coming back towards OSP a challenge with steep hills? If so, this hopscotching is a bad idea; if I'm smoked from the hike, I dang sure can't hump the hills on two wheels. I would need to get a buddy and have two vehicles. 2. How strenuous is it from [email protected] to Burrell's Ford? That is a 10+ mile stretch Day 2. Same question from Blue Blaze Spur/Bad Creek Access to Canebreak Access? On the latter, it is likely a planned night on the trail to split it up.

    Is this a flawed idea from the get-go?

    Thanks

  12. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bigmark View Post
    Am I way off base? New to hiking and new to this site; so thanks to all for the good info I've read and will read.

    I am retired, trying to get in better shape, and want to try some hiking. I have the luxury of no timetables to meet; I can go as far or as little as I want before calling it a day. For my first "real" hike I was thinking of the FHT. Right now is the worst for afternoon thunderstorms, so I've hatched out a possible plan. Take my truck and bicycle, drop and secure the bike at the "next" marked parking area, drive back and hike to the bike. Hop on bike and pedal back to truck. Lather, rinse and repeat the next day and so on. From OSP, designated parking is at miles 6.1, 16.8, 20.6, 23.9, 29.0, 31.7, 47.9, etc. By road those areas are only 5-8 miles apart.

    So, I could start early and be out of the woods by 2 or 3 pm at the very latest. This would allow me to shake down my gear without carrying a full load all the time; camp close to my truck or grab a cheap motel w/in an easy drive; or at worst, hammock on the trail for one night if I monkey before getting to the bike on the longer stretches. OR, should the weather get ugly or the bugs too bad I can bail and go to the house. I live ~3 hrs away.

    My major questions are: Are the roads coming back towards OSP a challenge with steep hills? If so, this hopscotching is a bad idea; if I'm smoked from the hike, I dang sure can't hump the hills on two wheels. I would need to get a buddy and have two vehicles. 2. How strenuous is it from [email protected] to Burrell's Ford? That is a 10+ mile stretch Day 2. Same question from Blue Blaze Spur/Bad Creek Access to Canebreak Access? On the latter, it is likely a planned night on the trail to split it up.

    Is this a flawed idea from the get-go?

    Thanks
    I would not do the truck and bike many hopscotching deal. Indeed, you could be facing some mountainous bicycling UP grades and/or round about indirect routing. If you take the truck and bike hopscotching approach be careful how you plan it. It might be harder, more of a hassle for little payoff, and more time consuming than you think. Again, the FHT skirts the BR Escarpment! I'd leave the truck somewhere safe like either TR or O SP notifying SP Rangers that you're thru hiking the FHT so they can watch your vehicle and where they advise to safely park it. I'd then arrange for a shuttle from one of several given at the FHT Conservancy website to get back to your truck. Hayward Douglas is reliable and can provide FHT and the regional insight.

    That first segment isn't strenuous. Two 300-450 ft grades to climb though. The second segment mentioned is more strenuous...with perhaps greater overall elev change. Again, these questions can be answered if one avails themselves of the FHT Conservancy website. look at the elev profile

  13. #13
    Registered User Last Call's Avatar
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    I've hiked most of the trail on 2 occasions, I wouldn't do the bike think, would probably be pushing it most of the time....Beautiful trail!
    Let's head for the roundhouse; they can't corner us there!

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