Pickens County, SC
Saturday, February 12th, 2011
Photos are posted here:
The Upstate Hiking and Outdoor Adventure group is a very active hiking club.
They usually end up with a pretty good turnout on most of their hikes. I generally prefer hiking with smaller groups (2-4 people) and therefore I do not sign up for many of these hikes. However, this past Saturday I saw a hike that intrigued me and I signed up.
It was an "exploratory" hike, meaning that none of the group has done it before. We would be exploring an area around the Dam between Lake Jocassee and Lake Keowee.
I was running a little early as usual, so before meeting the group I made a quick stop at the Table Rock Visitors Center where I picked up a nice map of the Lake Jocassee area. Also, with the morning still, the small lake at the visitor's center had a mirror like reflection, making for an excellent photo opportunity.
Table Rock Visitors Center
The group (9 of us) met up at the intersection of Hwy11 and US178 and caravanned from there. We parked along the shoulder of Roy Jones Hwy just before the gated entrance to "The Cliffs at Keowee Vineyards" development and started our hike.
Most of the hike would be on Duke Power property and follow a power line clearing towards the Lake Jocassee Dam. A wide network of trails and maintenance roads criss-cross the area. Some of the trails actually had signs establishing names like Janet's Hill, Bear Tree Trail, and Buck Hollow Trail. We were pretty much just following the power lines taking whichever trails we thought would take us in the right direction.
Hiking along the Power Line Trails
While we didn't pass any no trespassing signs, we definitely ended up on "The Cliffs" property at one point. They don't take kindly to outsiders, so we quickly made our way back into Duke Power and SCDNR lands.
We eventually found out that you can't actually hike to the Jocassee Dam as the road leading in that direction is gated and heavily posted with no trespassing signs. Instead we elected to head north. The dirt road we were hiking travels alongside Lake Jocassee and there were plenty of wintertime "through the trees" views, but no wide open vistas.
Through the trees view of Lake Jocassee
The only wide open (non power line) view was actually towards the East (away from the lake) which is where we decided to turn around and head back.
View from 'Horsepasture Road'
For the most part, we returned back the way we came, except for a short section of bushwhacking to avoid crossing over onto "The Cliffs" property. I would estimate that we hiked a total of about 10-12 miles.
My best guess as to the hike route (not from a GPS - this based on my memory and looking at Goggle Earth)
The weather was absolutely beautiful with bright sunny skies and unseasonably warm temperatures. It was great to see some old friends and meet a few new ones!
Although this is not a hike that I would recommend or plan on doing again, it was still very interesting and enjoyable. And there are loads of other trails in the area still waiting to be explored!
My full set of photos is posted here: