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The Chattooga River Chapter of Trout Unlimited holds regular chapter meetings on the first Tuesday of every month. The meetings begin at 7:30PM and typically last until around 8:30PM.  CLICK HERE... for more information.

The Cherokee Path Social Club

Formed of members of the Chattooga River Chapter of Trout Unlimited, we call ourselves the "Cherokee Path Social Club."  That name derives from the fact that when we first started hiking together we met for breakfast at the Cherokee Path Restaurant in Salem, SC.  The restaurant derived its name from the Cherokee Path, a trading trail that ran from Charleston, SC to Fort Loudoun, TN (near Knoxville and passed near what is now Salem.

The Cherokee Path was mapped in 1730 by George Hunter, the Surveyor-General of the Province of South Carolina.  It ran from Charlestown to the colonial settlement of Ninety Six, then to Fort Prince George and the Cherokee village of Keowee, the principal town of the Cherokee Lower settlements in present day Oconee, Greenville, Pickens and Anderson counties.

From Keowee the path fanned out into the Unaka Mountains, usually following streams and valleys, to Clayton, Georgia and up to Franklin and Murphy in North Carolina (the Middle settlements) and across to the Cherokee towns in Tennessee (the Overhill settlements) and Fort Loudoun which had been constructed by South Carolina troops in 1756.

"In the 17th century it was used by English and French fur traders, and later used as a military road during the American Revolution." (Wikipedia)

Many creeks, rivers and downs are named for their distance from Keowee Town along the Cherokee Path - the town of Six Mile, named for Six Mile Creek, Twelve Mile Creek, Three and Twenty Creek, Twenty Six Mile River and the town of Ninety Six.

The Cherokee Path Social Club (CPSC) meets for breakfast every Monday and Thursday and the "hikemeister" brings a hike for the day.  At the culmination of the hike we usually have lunch somewhere near the trailhead.  Thus you can see the reason for the "social club" aspect of our name.  We could be called an eating group rather than a hiking group but since we do both and conduct extensive conservations in between, CPSC seemed appropriate.

Why do we hike?

1.  Exercise;  2.  Camaraderie;  3.  Interest in nature;  4.  To explore new places;  5.  To fish.

Where do we hike?

About 50-60% of our hikes are conducted on some segment of the Foothills Trail or a spur trail to it.  The FT runs approximately 76 miles from Oconee State Park to Table Rock State Park and has numerous spur trails of two to twelve miles in length.  The CPSC maintains one of these spur trails - Coon Branch Trail, which is accessed from the Duke Energy Bad Creek Pump Storage Station parking area.  The Foothills Trail Conference maintains the overall trail plus spurs and has a web site:  www.foothillstrail.org.

We also hike in DuPont Forest, Panthertown Valley and along the Blue Ridge Parkway in North Carolina.  The "Hikemeister" tends to pick these areas in the summer when the higher elevations provide for a cooler hike.  These areas also provide a variety of hiking opportunities from moderate to strenuous.

Since the Chattooga River is our TU Chapter's name, in addition to fishing the Chattooga the CPSC also hkes the Chattooga River Trail and, cooperating with the US Forest Service, we conduct an annual "River Sweep" cleanup from Ellicott Rock at the NC, SC, and GA corner to the Russell Bridge at Highway 28.  This sweep entails five separate hikes through the year to cover the distance and still have time to clear the area of trash.

Other places that we hike are:

Oconee State Park, both within the park and on trails to Hidden Falls and a segment of the Palmetto Trail that runs from the park to Oconee Station, with a spur to Station Falls.  Another favorite is the trail to Tamassee Knob, which is about 4.5 miles round trip.  We also have a loop hike where we start at the base of Tamassee Knob, follow an old logging road to its intersection with the Tamassee Knob Trail, then take the Palmetto Trail to Oconee Station, near the starting point.

Yellow Branch Falls, a 4 mile in-and-out, to one of the prettiest water falls in the upstate.

Winding Stairs Trail from Cherry Hill Camping area on Hwy. 107 downhill about 3.5 miles to Tamassee Road, FS 710 (also called Cheohee Road) near Lake Cherokee.

Lee Falls.  This is a short hike that involves about 1/4 mile of serious bushwhacking at the end but provides a view of one of the prettiest falls in the upstate.  It is located near Lake Cherokee.

Caesars Head State Park:  Numerous trails are available.  Our favorites seem to be the trail to Raven Cliff Falls (about 4.4 miles in and out,) Rim of the Gap - a pretty strenuous hike of 4.3 miles with significant elevation change, Jones Gap Road - an old toll road laid out by Solomon Jones that follows the Middle Saluda River for 5.5 miles from Hwy 276 to Jones Gap State Park.

Table Rock State Park.  Numerous trails available from moderate to strenuous, including a new section of the Palmetto Trail that runs for about 12 miles from Table Rock to Hwy 178.  We have hiked both ends of this trail for about 3 miles in and out but have yet to undertake the 12 mile trek.  The Pinnacle hike is a strenuous climb of about 220 feet and about 5 miles round trip.  Only the fittest members do this one. 

Clemson Forest:  We seem to focus on the area around Lake Issaqueena where there are several options for 3 - 5 mile hikes.

The Bartram Trail:  We hike sections of this trail that run near the Chattooga River, one from Russell Bridge, through some interesting forest coves north to Hwy 107 at Cheohee Rd.  Another runs along the Chattooga on the GA side down by the area of Long Bottom where a horse trail fords the Chattooga.  Ue usually turn back at this point but the Bartram Trail continues downstream.

Currahee Mountain, near Toccoa, GA:  After reading and seeing the mini-series, "Band of Brothers" our group developed an interest in hiking Currahee, which is where the 101st Airborne trained in WW II.  Part of their training involved running 3 miles up and back down Currahee.  The mountain provided their jump yell of "Currahee."  A couple of us did some exploring and found there is a very steep trail up the side of the mountain on the opposite side from where the 101st trained.  So our more fit members hiked up that trail then down the Forest Service Road that was the 101st running trail.  This may become an annual event for a "cool weather hike." 

Then there is a "trail that we discovered/put together" from Hwy 107 in NC that follows some Forest Service roads and trails to connect with an old section of the Foothills Trail then to Hwy NC 281, beside the Whitewater River, just north of the Upper Whitewater Falls.

Bee Cove Falls.   Starts from Hwy 107 at FS 702 just north of Fish Hatchery Road.  The hike in and out to Bee Cove Falls is a little over 4 miles and fairly strenuous.  We have explored a continuation of this hike that follows old roads, now in the National Forest, that lead to Hwy 130, just north of Tater Hill.  This is a hike of about 5 miles that is a through hike rather than in and out. 

The Upper Chattooga - a trail that runs from Whiteside Cove Road, south of Cashiers, NC, alongside the Chattooga River to the Iron Bridge on Bull Pen Road, just north of the SC line.

Three Forks Trail - There are two trails to Three Forks.  The one we take is accessed from Hwy 28, just north of the Russell Bridge on Hwy 28.  This is a strenuous hike with significant elevation change but a fantastic view of the juncture of three creeks - Big Creek, Holcombe and Overflow which form the West Fork of the Chattooga River.

Devils Fork State Park where we usually hike the Bear Cove Trail which is about 2 miles, followed by the Oconee Bells Nature Trail which adds a mile and, in the early spring, provides views of the beautiful Oconee Bell in bloom.

Keowee Toxaway State Park which has a fairly strenuous loop trail 4.2 miles and a shorter nature trail of about 1.2 miles.

Eastatoe Creek Heritage Preserve, a newly reconstructed trail of about 5 miles, in and out, that leads to near the Eastatoe Gorge where the creek is funneled through a very narrow crevice in the rock.  Some bushwhacking is required to get from the trails end to the gorge.

The Hike

"Nature, camaraderie, season, mind, instinct all give a sense of place when one reflects in the walk.  I become real in the real world.  My being was there and that presence can never be changed.  Not repeated perhaps, but never removed.  Every step leaves a mark, a change in the order because my foot touched that earth ever so lightly, not discernable to everyone who follows, but there."

..ben morton...

 

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