Hiking in Jones Gap State Park

On Friday, I went on a 10.1 mile solo hike in Jones Gap State Park in Upstate South Carolina.  The park is 3,964 acres, and together with Caesars Head State Park is part of the Mountain Bridge Wilderness Area.

There was nobody else around when I arrived and I didn’t encounter any other hikers until much latter in the day.  I was on the trail by about 9:20 am.  The sky was clear and sunny.  The temperature was 28 degrees so I put on my gloves and lightweight down jacket.

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It wasn’t long though before I had warmed up from exertion and was shedding layers.  My plan was to hike on three different trails that would form a loop.  I started by hiking a 4.6 mile section of the Jones Gap Trail. This boulder filled trail stays close to the Middle Saluda River and climbs about 1300 feet.  For much of the way, the air is filled with the sound of cascading water.

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I passed a number of designated campsites and an old tree with a huge burl.

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There were many good views of the river from along the trail, including one area where the water flows over a broad, exposed rock.

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The highlight is Jones Gap Falls which is about 50 feet tall from the top of the falls to the pool at the base.

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The second trail that I hiked on was the Tom Miller Trail.  It’s only 7 tenths of a mile long, but is quite steep.  Before finishing the climb, I stopped for a water break and ate a light snack.

The third trail was the Coldspring Branch Trail which is 2.3 miles long and except for a short climb at the beginning, is mostly downhill.  Earlier in the morning there had been little to no wind, but now there was a strong, cold wind blowing.  I didn’t mind though, since the temperature had warmed up to the mid 40’s.  The tread started out really nice, which made for easy walking while I enjoyed the view of the woods.

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Soon though, the trail narrowed and the smooth tread was replaced with more boulders.  The trail crosses Coldspring Branch five or six times.  Each crossing seemed to be more challenging as far as trying to figure out how to get across without getting my feet wet in the ice cold water.

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Finally at one crossing, there was no avoiding getting my feet wet, I just didn’t want to slip and fall on my backside.

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Eventually, the Coldspring Branch Trail joined back up with the Jones Gap Trail.  From there, it was only about 2.5 miles back to my car.  It was on the last mile or so of this stretch of trail that I finally encountered other hikers.

This was another good hike and I’m glad that I had the opportunity to do it.

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