Chatooga Trail InformationThe Chatooga River Trail stretches from Georgia to North Carolina. This trip covers the South Carolina portion only. It begins at the southern terminus located just off SC Highway 28 at Ridley Field/Russel Bridge and goes to Ellicott's Rock and back to the trail head on hwy 28. The trail is not well marked. The Chatooga trail is blazed black with a black square with a bar over the top. These blazes are sparse but are on the trail sporadically throughout. The trail begins at this point with the Bartram trail from Ridley Field to Nicholson Ford Rd. parking area. You will see two markings during this section - he black blaze for the Chatooga Trail and a similar white blaze for the Bartram Trail. After passing Lick Log Falls, you will be close to the Nicholson Ford Road parking area. On the trail, you will encounter signs for the Foothills and Bartram trail to the right. The Foothills Trail and Chatooga Trail continue together straight ahead at this point toward Burrell's Ford. Burrell's Ford is about 8 miles. After this point you will encounter trail splits every so often with white blazes only for the Foothills trail in both an upper and lower path option. You will likely not see a marking for the Chatooga Trail when this occurs. The lower route will trek closer to the river and maybe impassable during high water levels and overgrowth. Further down the trail, you will encounter a trail junction and a small wooden bridge at Big Bend Falls. This provides an alternate hike in point from the Cherry Hill Recreation Area and Campground. This area includes camping, hot showers and bathroom facilities. Up the Big Bend Trail you will find the campground and access to SC Highway 107. The Chatooga Trail continues across the bridge to the right.Burrell's Ford campground is next on the trail. You will notice the framed campsite areas and cables for food bags from the trail. The trail pretty much goes directly through the first site. Paralleling the river, continue forward and you will eventually continue straight across a gravel road entering the Ellicott Rock Wilderness Area. It is in the Burrell's Ford area that the Foothill's Trail leaves the Chatooga on the right. The Chatooga is almost always directly on the river and continues straight ahead into the Ellicott Rock Wilderness area.At this point, you will see campsites frequently. Continue to follow the Chatooga Trail blazes (black) as best you can. It will turn to the left and cross a major wooden bridge with hand rails in a couple of miles and continue on the other side. There is no sign indicating where the rock is. When you see a sign on a tree to the left reference North Carolina Forest Management, you will see a trail steeply descending the river bank. You should be able to see the rock both from the trail and if you go down the bank.We actually located a rock with a geo marker but did not locate the rock with Ellicott's "N-G" on it or the Commissioner's Rock with the "Lattitude 35" on it given the rain and nightfall.In total we trekked 33 miles which includes a .25 miles up to Spoonauger falls and back. Participants were two Dad's (ages 38 and 40) and their teenage sons. We were using this trail to gauge our endurance of 13-15 miles per day in prep for a larger trip - thus the long distance and short time. Weather was great initially with a temperature range between 40 and upper 60s. It did begin raining late on Saturday. Pack weights were just over 30 lbs each with food and water. For a more pleasurable trip, I would recommend stretching over 3 full days.Day 1We arrived at the trail head around 8 pm on Thursday and hiked in about 3.3 miles and setup camp at Ira Branch. The camp site is right on the trail before crossing the first wooden bridge. If you continue straight instead of turning left onto the bridge you can't miss it. We camped in hammocks but there is plenty of room for tents as well. It is right on the branch which makes gathering water convenient. There are several more sites further up the trail.Day 2After breakfast the next morning, we broke camp and began our next segment to Ellicott's Rock. This was by far our most miles backpacked in a day clocking about 16 miles. We really didn't encounter many other people on the trail except where close to the two campgrounds that were close to the trail at Cherry Hill and Burrell's Ford. After hitting the trail we passed a metal marker for Nicholson's Ford but failed to understand the point of interest. We came across Licklog Falls at the next wooden bridge crossing. It is on the right and is a major attraction that you really can't miss. We were able to get a person to snap a picture of us and continued on. We had lunch on the trail and continued on to Burrell's Ford camping area and into Ellicott Rock Wilderness Area where we setup camp at the first available site. This area has a lot of campers for fishing given the close drive in access. After setting up camp, we continued to Ellicott Rock and back. There are no signs that specifically point you to the rock or indicate where the rock is. Be sure to research this before you go so you know what to look for. You can find pics and info on Wikipedia.Day 3We broke camp early and covered about 13 miles back to the trailhead.