76M FOOTHILLS TRAIL RUN - South/North Carolina
over 25,000' of elevation gain
Friday, March 16 - Check-in to Cabins 16 and 17 at Oconee State Park, SC (GPS: 624 State Park Rd, Mountain Rest, SC) will be after 1600. If you are running late, try to arrive before the gates close at 2100. The Park entrance with $5/person entry fee is off Highway 107. The Foothills Trailhead (FINISH) and Parking Lot are close to the Cabins. The Park authority allows only two cars to be parked at each Cabin; park additional vehicles at the Foothills TH Parking Lot near by (you must display a valid $2 parking permit/day on mirror when leaving a vehicle overnight).
Mary Kowalski is preparing a Friday night feast for all of Roasted Potato Medley (sweet and regular potatoes), simple pasta and red sauce, a green vegetable, salad and dressings, Artisan bread, Grilled Chicken, and a variety of Appetizers to include crackers and cheese, fresh vegies, humus, and fruit. Anything else you wish to bring is welcome. Of course, it is St. Patty's Day, so please feel free to bring any variety of entertaining beverages.
Lights out by 2200 so we can rise by 0500 for our crazy 76-mile "fun run".
Saturday, March 17 - Hit the road caravan-style (Mapquest Directions) for the hour drive to the start at Table Rock State Park (GPS: 158 E Ellison Ln, Pickens, SC) following SC-11, with a 20-minute side trip on SC-130 to the Waterfalls Parking Lot (Mile 50 of the run) - MAP at right - to leave one or more bail-out vehicles/drop bag provisions (you must display a valid $2 parking permit/day on mirror when leaving a vehicle overnight). Arriving after the park opens at 0700 we'll park at the Nature Center (you must display a valid $2 parking permit/day on mirror when leaving a vehicle overnight) to begin our run on the Pinnacle Mountain Trail to Bald Rock before jumping on the Foothills Trail heading southwest, targeting a 0730 start (sunrise 0738). We'll complete one group card registration (no cost) at the TH Kiosk efore beginning. Any food you need to eat prior to the run will be whatever you bring along. There will be no pancakes and eggs to order on Saturday morning.
Prepare to be fully self-supported for most of 24 hours with an overnight. Abundant water is along the trail, with filtration treatment at your discretion. We'll leave one or more bailout vehicles at Whitewater Falls at the 50M point, where the trail crosses NC-281/SC-130 - MAP at right. Supplies and drop bags may be left in these cars. Anyone planning to stop after 50 miles can leave their vehicles at the Falls and meet the rest at the finish.
I will be carrying one Pocket Profile Foothills Trail Elevation Profile Map. If you want your own map you can print the one below or secure one for $6.10 from Anti-Gravity Gear.
Sunday, March 18 - While everyone is free to fly, most of us will find a comfortable group and hang on to either the bail-out or the finish at Oconee. Assuming different finishes for different abilities and objectives, we'll hide keys for the cabins and the bail-out vehicles so that no one has to wait for others. Please secure valuables accordingly. There won't be much sleep after the run with a check-out time of 1000 (will try to get that extended when we get there), but there will be a hot shower. Any food you need following the run will be whatever you bring or any leftovers from Friday night. After checkout, we'll retrieve vehicles from the start, then try to hit a local restaurant and enjoy brunch together (with stories) before parting company. I will stick around at Oconee until all persons are accounted for.
The following is basic logistical information to help you plan your run. Please keep in mind that The Foothills Trail is a very rugged and often remote wilderness area with little to no outside access. Great care should be taken in organizing your trip and always be sure to let several people know your itenerary. This should not be treated as a casual stroll in the forest.
At the time of this writing the trail is marked very well with white blazes and signs. I would advise you to always check The Foothills Trail official website for up to date information on trail conditions.
A breakout of the 76.2 mile trail into four major sections below.
1. Table Rock (14.5 Miles) starts with a steep 4 mile climb, levels off, then steadily climbs to Sassafras Mt. (SC's Highest Peak). After this, you have 4.8 miles of nice downhills. Possible aid points at 9.7 Miles (Top of Sassarfas) and at the end of this section at Laurel Valley at 14.5 miles. You will have a hard time finding water through here so bring enough to get you through.
you do run into trouble through this section your only escape
will be by finding a boat ride off Lake Jocassee or hiking out
through Gorges State Park. It's mostly uphill on the way out
and you end up in the middle of nowhere, NC. If you're lucky,
you may get a signal on your phone to let someone know where
you are. But 5 miles out is easier than 20+ miles if you can
get someone to pick you up. There are two trails that merge
off the Foothills trail taking you to Gorges State Park: Canebrake
Trail (5 Miles Uphill) is just past the Toxaway River Bridge
and Auger Hole Trail (7 Miles Uphill) is about 17 miles into
this section at the powerline cut.
BAILOUT VEHICLES at the FALLS crossing
3. Whitewater Falls to Burrell's Ford (12.2 Miles). 3 mile switchback climb out of WWF which takes you to a road crossing called Sloan's Bridge. Support can be had here. Some of this section is technical, but after the initial climb from WWF, there are no more major climbs in this section. As you leave Sloan's Bridge you head gradually uphills towards the Fish Hatchery which is about 3.3 miles. From here there is an awesome 3.5 mile downhill section towards Burrell's Ford where you meet up with the Chattooga river.
4. Burrell's Ford To Oconee State Park (16.1 Miles). There are no major climbs in this section either. However, the trail does get rather technical in places along the river. You reach Cheeohee road about 10 miles in. The trail is moderate to easy for the final 6 miles heading into Oconee State Park.
Whitewater Falls and bridge above
Sassafras Mountain (3554') - highest point in South Carolina