Thrift Lake Falls

Location: Northwestern South Carolina
Trip Starts: Nicholson Ford Rd
Trip Ends: Nicholson Ford Rd
Total Distance: 2 miles
Hike Type: Roundtrip, Loop Hike
Hike Difficulty: Moderate
Trails Used: Bushwack, Foothills Trail
Trail Traffic: Light
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


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.

This hike starts near Thrift Lake and uses an old road that is unmarked on maps yet is still used by fisherman to climb a ridge, join with the Foothills Trail, then drop down to Thirft Lake Falls at a major intersection of the Chattooga River Trail, The Bartram Trail and The Foothills Trail. We camped near this busy intersection near a small waterfall and pool that runs down to the Chattooga River which is about 0.3 miles downstream and has some great water for fishing for Rainbow Trout.

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