Exploratory Hike to Drawbar Cliffs
With the Upstate Hiking and Outdoor Adventures Group
Pickens County, SC
Sunday, May 22nd, 2011
Group Photo at Drawbar Cliffs
L to R: Tim, Bren, Jack, Caroline, Clint
Photos are posted here:
Drawbar Cliffs is located along the Foothills Trail about halfway between the Table Rock State Park Trailhead and the Sassafras Mountain Parking Area. We could have simply started at either of these trailheads, but we wanted to see if we could get there a different way.
Five of us started at Hwy11 about 2 miles east of the US178 intersection. The map we were using calls this Alewine Road, but most maps don't show any road/trail here. We parked along the shoulder of Hwy 11 and began our hike up the gated SCDNR dirt road.
Rhododendron Blooms along the trail
Alewine Road, while not very exciting, offers several benefits and opportunities. It joins up with the Palmetto Trail about 4 miles west of the Table Rock Trailhead, allowing much shorter access to the center of this stretch of trail. Plus you avoid having to pay the $2.00 per person State Park entrance Fee.
Another potential opportunity for Alewine Road that I plan to explore on a future trip is potential access to Rachel Creek Falls:
Last year my buddy Waterfall Rich of http://www.ncwaterfalls.com/ posted about a waterfall on Rachel Creek. Unfortunately the route he took to get there crosses private property. I believe that Alewine Road would be a good place to start a bushwhack to Rachel Creek Falls without ever leaving the Public SCDNR gamelands.
Today we used Alewine Road to connect to the Palmetto Trail where we turned left (West). We could have stayed on the Palmetto Trail, but we chose to cut off a bit of distance and instead turned onto Camp Adger Road which after about a half mile joins back up with the Palmetto Trail.
Our plan was to take the old Emory Gap Toll Road to the Foothills Trail. We crossed Emory Creek and continued for about a half mile before we realized that we completely missed the turn for the Emory Gap Toll Road.
Tim crossing Emory Creek
One good thing about our missed turn is that because of it, we spotted the largest trillium I have ever seen!
The Largest Trillium I have ever seen
After backtracking about a half mile and crossing back over Emory Creek we arrived at an open field we passed through earlier. It turns out that the Emory Gap Toll Road starts at the North End of this field. It is not at all obvious if you do not know where to look, but once you are on the old Toll Road it is very easy to follow.
The start of the Emory Gap Toll Road
This section of the Emory Gap Toll Road gains about 1,000 feet of elevation over the course of about a mile, making for a very steep climb. On top of that, we were hiking on what was the hottest day of the year so far. We were all sweating up a storm, but we eventually made it to the Foothills Trail where we stopped for a nice break.
We took the Foothills Trail East for about a mile to the point right along the Table Rock State Park Boundary where the trail makes a long switchback up to Drawbar Cliffs.
view from Drawbar Cliffs
The views from Drawbar Cliffs definitely did not disappoint and we took a nice long lunch break to soak it all in.
Iggy goes out on a Limb at Drawbar Cliffs
After lunch, we backtracked a short distance on the Foothills trail and turned onto Long Ridge Road. After a short distance, an arrow along the trail pointed to the right. We went to check out what the arrow was pointing to and found another nice viewpoint. Not quite as good as Drawbar Cliffs, but still and impressive an unexpected surprise. We decided to call this spot Arrow Bald.
Long Ridge Road continued to offer up some unexpected impressive scenery. It reminded me a little of the Cedar Rock/Big Rock Areas of DuPont State Forest. I would definitely recommend the Long Ridge Road over the Emory Gap Toll Road for any future hike planning!
Long Ridge Road
Since we were now going mostly downhill and the return route was a little shorter, we made much better time coming back.
Although I would have preferred it to be about 30 degrees cooler and about 50% less humidity, it was still a very enjoyable hike. We travelled a total of about 10 miles and only saw one other group of hikers the entire day.
Our Hike Route (highlighted in yellow)
The complete set of photos is posted here: