The Great Southeastern Loop Has Begun


My adventure on the Great Southeastern Loop has finally begun! The plan was to start in early May at Springer Mountain, but my girlfriend and I went camping the last weekend of April up on the Blue Ridge Parkway in Shining Rock Wilderness, and she surprised me with the news that we are expecting our first child for Christmas!!

So after a few rounds of doctor visits and ultrasounds, the new plan was for me to hit the June Bloom of Rhododendron.  That plan was to start in Asheville on the Mountains to Sea Trail the day after my brother-in-law’s wedding there in Asheville. I caught a brutal sinus infection that knocked me out for 10 days.

Finally got started today at Jones Gap State Park here in South Carolina. I’m on the Foothills Extension Trail which follows old logging roads along the Stateline with SC and NC. It’s a beautifully steep road, with sections that make me wonder how they ever drove trucks up and down.

Jones Gap State Park is easily my favorite SP in South Carolina and I have day-hiked it extensively.

I chose a route through the park that hits the best viewpoints, as well as the most challenging trails in the park.

I went up to Little Pinnacle Mountain for the view, then took the Rim of the Gap Trail up to Caesars Head for the challenge. R-of-the-G Trail has some great views along the looming granite walls. It’s no Yosemite, but its my little Yosemite here in SC. This trail is a little piece of home!

From there I headed up past 3 Waterfalls, Cliff, Firewater and Rock Cliff Falls. I then went below Cesars Head, into the deep valley below, to Raven Cliff Falls, and climbed out of the valley and onto the Foothills Extension Trail. Raven Cliff Falls is the tallest waterfall in South Carolina at about 420 feet, and being on the bridge at the bottom of it is an incredible sight to see.

After getting up and over the rocky bluff, you head down the hill to a few nice camping spots that I’ve stayed at before. After the 2nd Campsite there is no more water for the next 5ish miles.

A couple miles up is a nice camping spot right at the viewpoint of Dolves Mountain, which is a dry camping spot. I brought an empty gallon jug to load up at the river so I would have enough water to cook with, as well as get me hydrated the next morning before I hit the next legally accessible spring below Sassafras Mtn.

Tomorrow I hike up to Sassafras Mountain, the tallest peak in SC, with some awesome 360 views. Then down to Table Rock State Park for more views!

Today’s Stats: 17.6 miles, 5,505 feet of climb.

San Gorgonio: 17.3 miles, 5,840 feet of climb.

San Gorgonio is the tallest peak in Southern California, as well as in my home range of the San Bernardino Mountains. I like to use it as a barometer of my hiking days. It’s not quite accurate because SG towers 11,505 feet above the Inland Empire, whereas I’ve only climbed to around 3200-foot level at Caesars Head. The oxygen is still thick here.

But it’s still fun to compare. I climbed my San Gorgonio today.


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