Best Backpacking In South Carolina

Our comprehensive guide to the best backpacking you can find in South Carolina.
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Our comprehensive guide to the best backpacking you can find in South Carolina.

Foothills Trail

More than 76 miles of the Foothills Trail course along South Carolina's northern border, connecting two state parks, the state's highest peak, and two scenic rivers. Despite the gentle-sounding name, rugged sections take backpackers up steep pitches around Jocassee Gorge, with spur trails leading to the gorges of Horsepasture River. Mile by mile, this trail offers outstanding views, diverse trees and wildflowers, and some of the best year-round backpacking in the Southeast.

Contact: Andrew Pickens Ranger District, Sumter National Forest, (864) 638-9568; www.fs.fed.us/r8/fms.

Chattooga Trail

This 15.5-mile trail shows hikers two views of the Wild and Scenic-designated Chattooga River-from afar as the trail winds along high bluffs, and up close as it descends to river's edge, so close in places that the trail is lost when the river floods. For longer trips, connect with Ellicott Rock Wilderness trails or the Foothills Trail.

Contact: Andrew Pickens Ranger District, Sumter National Forest, (864) 638-9568; www.fs.fed.us/r8/fms.

Jones Gap State Park

A small park on the state's northwest border, Jones Gap offers big hiking opportunities, especially when combined with the adjacent Caesars Head State Park. Together, the parks make up the Mountain Bridge Wilderness Area, which encompasses the middle fork of the Saluda River and offers 52 miles of hiking trails.

Contact: Jones Gap State Park, (864) 836-3647; www.southcarolinaparks.com.