|Unnamed cascades along the Winding Stair Trail.|
Winding Stair Trail (3.5 miles) headed up into the forest on the left after crossing Crane Creek over a bridge. The parking area was unmarked but the trail itself was signed and adequately blazed. This hidden gem is mostly used by dayhikers (i.e. no campsites evident). Broad switchbacks wound gently up the hillside so the 1000 foot elevation gain was effortless. Paths to two waterfalls required steep scrambles down rhododendron thickets, with much ducking required for tall people. Miuka Falls was an impressive 70-foot cascade and Secret Falls was smaller but picturesque.
After crossing SC 107, Big Bend Trail led 2.7 miles to the Chattooga River Trail/Foothills Trail. It passed through really pretty forest, typical for the Chattooga River area, with large trees, doghobble lined streams, and mountain laurel. Pine-needle cushioned trail made for easy walking.
|Pinesap lacks chlorophyll and gets its carbon by parasitizing fungi associated with pine trees.|
|Giant pines on the Big Bend Trail|
|Camping along the Chattooga River.|
The Chattooga River is one of those really special places for me. I feel so at home in the forests through which it flows. Its large evergreen trees, rhododendrons and ferns remind me of the forest of my childhood in Oregon. I have made so many memories of trips on the trails that intersect the Chattooga- the Foothills, Bartram, and Chattooga River Trail. It's tough thinking about leaving this place and all the friends I've made here, but it's also exciting to dream about what I'll do next.
I woke early to hike the few miles to my car on the Foothills Trail, passing yet another falls. It was a short trip, but exactly what I needed.
|Lick Log Falls on the Foothills Trail.|
Tim Homan's Hiking Trial of the Southern Nantahala Wilderness and Chattooga River.
Trails Illustrated #778 Brasstown Bald and Chattooga River