Thursday, September 20, 2012

2012-09-16 Mountain Bridge Passage Hike

Mountain Bridge Passage Hike
Mountain Bridge Wilderness
Greenville County, SC
Sunday, September 16th, 2012

The Mountain Bridge Passage is one of the newest trails in the Mountain Bridge Wilderness of South Carolina.  For the last few years my buddy Darrin has "adopted" this trail, which means he volunteers his time to help maintain it. 

I decided to join Darrin and Brenda on a Sunday afternoon hike along his trail.
As usual, I was running a bit early so I made a stop at Wildcat Falls. The overcast sky made for nice lighting however it was swarming with people. I wasn’t able to get any shots without people, but at least they give a sense of scale to the waterfall.

Wildcat Falls
Our plan was to meet at the old Camp Spearhead Gate along US276/Hwy11 which would be the ending point of our hike. We would do a short shuttle and start the hike at the Oil Camp Creek trailhead. While waiting for the others to show up, I passed the time by photographing the Bees and Flowers.

Bee on a Flower
Brenda showed up first and then Darrin arrived with his buddy Bob, Bob’s Son, Darrin’s Son, and a dog! We all managed to pile into Bob’s truck for the 15 minute drive to the Oil Camp Creek trailhead.
The trail starts off as an easy stroll along a wide track forest service road that follows Oil Camp Creek heading upstream for about a mile. There are many scenic cascades along the creek and several low-flow waterfalls on some of the tributary streams. These really need a lot of rain to make them photo worthy and since the area is still in a mild drought and it hadn’t rained all week, I didn’t bother stopping for any photos.
Eventually they Forest Service Road joins up with the Pinnacle Pass Trail. The Mountain Bridge Passage starts about a half mile later. We would hike the entire 4-mile long Mountain Bridge Passage making for about a 5.5 mile hike.

Our Hike Route (from Brenda's GPS)
This trail starts out all uphill until it crosses over Campbell Mountain, and then it is just about all downhill from there. We would stop on occasion to clear some minor deadfall from the trail, but there were several areas that were too much to handle with a small hand saw. Darrin made note of these areas with plans on coming back with his chainsaw.
On the downhill stretch, the trail passes by several waterfalls. Most are fairly low flow and cluttered with deadfall making them not very photogenic. However, the last one was worth a closer look.

Hamlin Falls
According to Darrin, this one does not have a name, so I am calling it Hamlin Falls. I figure since Darrin puts in many volunteer hours maintaining this trail, this waterfall should be named after him! We will see if this sticks!
The trail eventually leaves the Mountain Bridge Wilderness and enters into the Ashmore Heritage Preserve. There are several other trails that branch off in this area if you are looking to add a few more miles to the hike, but we just stuck with the main trail.
The trail finishes up by passing through the old Camp Spearhead which was shut down several years ago. I believe this land has been purchased by the Nature Conservancy. Hopefully they will do something about some of the old camp buildings, because they are definitely an eyesore right now!
It was definitely an enjoyable Sunday Afternoon Hike!

Elevation Profile (from Brenda's GPS)

The complete set of photos is posted here:

1 comment:

HemlockMan said...

Not a very interesting trail, apparently.

There's a summit on Katahdin in Maine called Hamlin Peak.