Forty Acre Rock 40
Forty Acre Rock is a nature preserve located in Lancaster County, South Carolina just off Hwy 601 between Kershaw and Pageland. This hike begins at the lower parking lot (closest to hwy 601) and includes the loop down by Flat Creek before returning to the main path. It then proceeds up to the water fall, up to the rock and then back down. The return trip bypasses the loop. In dry weather, such as this trip, the water fall will likely not be running. The trail is primarily shaded and is a very peaceful, pleasant experience.
Chatooga Trail SC
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.
Cedar Rock Mountain and John Rock
We hiked in from the parking lot at the fish hatchery on Thursday night. This is a very easy hike in at night. From the parking lot facing the fish hatchery, proceed through the gate to the left. After crossing the bridge, Cat Gap Loop begin on the right. We set up camp on the right just before the trail takes a sharp right across a bridge on the right and just before the junction with Butter Gap trail on the right. As you will see, there are plenty of campsite including one on the left just before this one down by the river and waterfall.On Friday, we put on our day packs and proceeded down Cat Gap Loop. At the junction with Cat Gap Bypass we continued to the right on Cat Gap Loop. Near the top, an unmarked trail to the right goes to Cedar Rock Mountain. We took that trail to Cedar Rock Mountain. The trail is not well marked at all. After enjoying lunch on a blad to the left of the trail and some views atop Cedar Rock Mountain, we spent some time trying to find the way down. We proceeded directly ahead on what appeared to be a well traveled trail marked with blue ribbons. However, after not seeing any official markings, and seeing that we were off the GPS trail, we returned to the top and followed the GPS trail which went straight down the rock face. We were able to crouch, crawl, slide down the rock face to the trail below. It was quite a rush! From there, we followed a trail marked with red ribbons. This trail lead to the bottom of the mountain and keeping right arrived at junction of five trails. One was unmarked (immediate left), the Art Loeb Trail (left and straight), another unmarked at about two o'clock facing the straight on Art Loeb Trail, and Buttergap trail to the right. We took Butter Gap Trail back to our camp site. On the way there is an fantastic waterfall about a mile before reaching the trail junction with Cat Gap Loop.On Saturday, we packed up camp and took Cat Gap Loop to Cat Gap Bypass to John Rock trail up to the top of John Rock Mountain. You actually top John Rock Mountain and start down the other side before finding the trails to the left which actually go out onto the rock. The first trail to the left actually goes to a campsite and not onto the rock. There are three other options the lest of which probably provides the least treacherous access to the rock. There we joined several other folks who were already enjoying the beautiful view. Directly across you can see the breathtaking view of Looking Glass Rock. When John Rock is dry, you can venture out and sit and enjoy. After enjoying the view, a snack, and a rest, we proceeded back on John Rock trail down the mountain. John Rock Trail eventually joins back up with Cat Gap Loop and back out to the parking lot.