May 4th, 2016
On Wednesday morning, Tally, Pam and I had met up to do a shuttle hike from Bull Pen Road to the Walhalla State Fish Hatchery. Our hike was in the 8,274 acre Ellicott Rock Wilderness Area amongst dense hardwood and conifer forests.
We started out on the 2.3 mile long Bad Creek Trail. Early on in our hike, we passed through this stretch where the trail was narrow and had lots of brush on both sides. Soon after, we crossed a small creek on a rickety, moss covered wooden footbridge that had clearly seen better days.
Because it’s Spring, wildflowers have been in bloom along the trail on all of my recent hikes. The flowers in the first image are beautiful Pink Lady Slippers. I’m not sure what the little white flowers are called. I know that Mountain Laurel are similar in color and size but they bloom in larger clusters.
The next part of our hike was along the Chattooga River Trail. We encountered several critters on this section. While we were hiking through a rugged patch of trail, it was Tally that first spotted this pretty little Garter snake amongst the rocks (My two boys and I like snakes, but my wife and daughter decidedly do not. My wife won’t even look at a picture of a snake). Later, we passed a Millipede. According to Wikipedia, the name “millipede” derives from the Latin word(s) for “thousand feet”, though no known species actually has a thousand. I didn’t bother to try to count the feet on this fellow.
As you can see from this image, it was a picture perfect day with a clear blue sky. The temperature, which started out comfortably cool, remained pleasant throughout our hike.
We spent some time at this next spot trying to find the historical Ellicott Rock which marks the boundary between Georgia and North Carolina. In 1811, Andrew Ellicott made a survey for the state of Georgia and engraved a large rock in the Chattooga River with “N-G”. Two years later, commissioners from both North and South Carolina marked another large rock along the river bank as the juncture where their two state lines joined. All three state lines converge in this area.
We were pretty sure that this was very close to the actual location, but due to recent rains, the river was still running too high and moving much too fast for anyone to make it safely down all the way to the river’s bank. In the image below, the rock to the left of center has a survey marker on it. My research indicates that it’s called Chattooga Rock and doesn’t carry the same historical significance.
Here, the trail passed between a couple of large fallen trees which have been cut back to clear a path. The second image is of another downed old tree, covered with lichens.
That’s Tally waiting on the other side for Pam as she attempts to cross a creek on slippery boulders. The three of us managed to make it with our feet still mostly dry.
To stay on the Chattooga River Trail, you would cross this bridge and continue southward. Instead, we turned sharply left onto the East Fork Trail, which climbs steadily as it follows the East Fork upstream all the way to the fish hatchery.
There is a huge rock wall along this 2.5 mile section. It would take three or four images to capture it all. Tally pointed out places where you could clearly see folds in the rock. The folding must have occurred while the rock was still relatively soft and plastic.
After reaching the end of our hike, we took a few minutes to tour the Walhalla State Fish Hatchery. The WSFH produces and stocks about 500,000 trout annually. The newly hatched trout are kept in this building until they grow to be about two inches in length. They then are transferred to the outside raceways where they will continue to grow for the next 14 to 16 months.
The large trout in this pool are between 5 and 15 pounds and are kept on display for the viewing public to enjoy.
This was a nice hike with plenty of pretty and interesting sights throughout. I would rate it as being moderately easy. In all we hiked 7.6 miles and climbed 860 feet.