Chattooga Cliffs Trail
The 5.1 mile Chattooga Cliffs Trail, within the Wild and Scenic River corridor, featured spectacular whitewater and scrambles along steep river slopes. The path only rarely followed the river, though narrow and slippery fisherman paths snaked down beneath the rhododendron to provide river access. Sounds of the river- the steady roar echoing up the steep valley walls- were ever-present.
|The Narrows- where rock banks squeeze the Chattooga River into a fast-flowing chute.|
|Iron bridge over Mill Creek where it joins the Chattooga below the Narrows.|
|Rocky cliffs jutting over the trail.|
|Boulders provide good places to stop and soak your feet.|
|Campsites are very limited along the Chattooga Cliffs Trail, but with my hammock I can always find a spot.|
The 4.3 mile Ellicott Rock Trail follows old road beds from Bull Pen Road down to the Chattooga River near Ellicott Rock. Both ends provide not very convenient connections to other trails-- getting to the Chattooga River trail (on the opposite bank) requires a ford, and the northern trailhead was a 1.3 mile roadwalk to the Chattooga Cliffs Trail. Which may explain why this trail doesn't see much use from backpackers either. Or dayhikers-- hiking the heavily overgrown trail was like passing through a car-(un)wash with outstretched branches depositing layers of grime and pollen all over me. It was such a relief to finally get to the river to rinse off.
On the way home, I stopped at Whiteside Mountain and hiked the 2-mile loop that climbs 500 feet up to the 4,930 foot summit. "Verticle awesomeness" is the best way I've seen these 750 foot sheer granite rockfaces described.
|View of Whiteside Mountain from near the trailhead for the Chattooga Cliffs Trails.|
|View from the top of Whiteside Mountain overlooking the Chattooga River valley.|
Another great thing about Whiteside Mountain was all plants rare to our area like this wild sarsaparilla.
I use the excellent guidebook Hiking Trails of the Southern Nantahala Wilderness, Ellicott Rock Wilderness, and Chattooga River by Tim Homan.
The Trail Illustrated #785 Nanatahala and Cullasaja Gorges is my favorite map for this area.
Read more about the hike and flowers at Whiteside Mountain here.