Foothills Trail Hike; Bad Creek To Thompson River

01/12/16

Early Tuesday morning, I headed to Martha’s restaurant in Walhalla, SC. There I joined Pam and Cindi at their table while they finished their breakfast of eggs and toast. After a few minutes, the three of us climbed into Pam’s vehicle and drove north on Hwy 281 to the Bad Creek Access for the Foothills Trail.

This was a beautiful day for a hike. The sky was perfectly clear and the temperature, while cold, was not uncomfortably cold. Our intentions were to hike on the Foothills Trail to the Thompson River and then back. If time permitted, we would also detour and hike to the Lower Whitewater Falls overlook.

After hiking about a half mile from the parking area on the spur trail, we crossed the Whitewater river on two metal bridges. The gap between the bridges is choked with boulders and fallen trees that have been carried here during times of high water.

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Soon after, the spur joins the Foothills Trail which steadily gains elevation before finally descending to the Thompson river. Along the way, we crossed several small creeks and climbed a number of wooden steps.

The trail briefly follows the bank of the river downstream through an area of large boulders.

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Here, the trail has made a hard left before crossing the river on this 75 foot long bridge.

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This is one of my favorite places on the Foothills Trail. The noise created by the shear volume of water rushing past these huge boulders is very impressive and a little bit intimidating.

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It’s always hard for me to capture the scale, but the boulders under the bridge are probably as large as pickup trucks.

On the other side of the bridge is a small campsite. If you walk through it, you can get down to this spot. On other hikes, I’ve eaten lunch here. Today, I just ate a quick snack before turning around for the hike back out.

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Since we had been hiking at a reasonably fast pace, we had time enough, if we wanted, to detour and hike out to the Lower Whitewater Falls overlook. Pam and I decided to do the additional mileage, while Cindi opted to continue back to the vehicle.

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I’ve been to the overlook on two or three occasions in the past, but never in the winter. With the leaves off the trees, we had better views. I also think that the volume of water was more than I’ve seen before. The falls are about 200 feet high and are part of a chain of six waterfalls along the North and South Carolina border.

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Pam and I spent only 5-7 minutes at the overlook before turning around. Here we’ve made it back to the Whitewater river.

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All that was left to do, was to recross the two metal bridges from the beginning of our hike and to make the climb on the spur trail back to the parking area.

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In all, we hiked about 9.4 miles and gained 1946 feet in total elevation. It was a good day and a good hike. Thanks Pam and Cindi for letting me tag along.

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