BARTRAM TRAIL/CHATTOOGA RIVER TRAIL – LICK LOG CREEK FALLS
LOCATION: Northwestern South Carolina
HIKE STARTS: Russell Bridge Parking Lot
HIKE ENDS: Russell Bridge Parking Lot
TOTAL DISTANCE: 9.0 Miles
HIKE TYPE: In and Out, Backtrack Hike
HIKE DIFFICULTY: Easy to Moderate
TRAILS USED: Chattooga River, Bartram
TRAIL TRAFFIC: Moderate
TRIP TYPE: Day or Overnight Hike
MORE INFORMATION: Sumter National Forest Andrew Pickens Ranger District 112 Andrew Pickens Circle Mountain Rest, South Carolina 29664 (864) 638-9568
HIGHLIGHTS: The Chattooga River begins in the mountains of North Carolina as small rivulets, nourished by springs and abundant rainfall, high on the slopes of the Appalachian Mountains. The water drops a half mile in elevation over fifty miles as it winds its way to Lake Tugaloo where the river ends between South Carolina and Georgia. The Chattooga is one of the few remaining free-flowing streams in the Southeast, and the setting is primitive with dense forests and undeveloped shorelines on most of its route.
The Chattooga River Trail is a forty mile route that borders the states of North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia and follows the banks of the Chattooga National Wild And Scenic River from Burrell’s Ford to US 76. Congress designated the river on May 10, 1974 and it is often used by kayakers, hikers, backpackers, and fisherman as it winds from the North Carolina mountains to Lake Tugaloo. The Chattooga River Trail shares its pathway with both the Foothills and Bartram Trails in the Russell Bridge area, but it stays close to the river for its entire distance unlike the other major southeastern trails.
The trail to Lick Log Creek Falls is an in-and-out backtrack hike that begins at Russell Bridge along South Carolina Highway 28 and follows the banks of the Chattooga River for roughly 4.5 miles. Watch the route carefully as you leave the parking area, however, since the trail begins by veering to the right and makes a mild 200-foot climb over a small ridge in the process. It is easier and more tempting to keep walking straight on a side path beaten down by trout fisherman, but this route is a dead-end that stops abruptly at the water’s edge. Instead, follow the black blazes of the Chattooga River Trail as it loops around Brack Hill, which can be seen across the water. We hiked northbound for about a mile and a half on both the Chattooga River Trail and the Bartram Trail which share a section along the river from the Russell Bridge Parking Area. It was only a few days after 9/11, and we needed to get away from the TV and relax and reflect in the wilderness for a while. The area was packed with overnight hikers, so apparently we weren’t the only ones.