Offering rugged terrain that will challenge any outdoors enthusiast, visitors who traverse the steep, backwoods trails of Gorges State Park will be rewarded with views of dazzling waterfalls or perhaps an encounter with one of the numerous rare species of the park. However, some of the more secluded areas of the park are not recommended for casual hiking.
One of the park’s most popular pathways is the Foothills Trail. Established by Duke Energy, the trail winds along the southern portion of the state park and wraps around Lake Jocassee, where primitive campsites are available. The trailhead is located at the Frozen Creek access area in Rosman on Frozen Creek Road. This area provides parking, picnic areas and trailheads.
This is a short hike off of the Auger Hole Trail that will lead you down to the abandoned lime kilns. Settlers mined marble along Bearwallow Creek not too far from where it empties into the Toxaway River. Marble is metamorphosed limestone. They burned the marble in kilns to make quicklime, which they used for mortar, plaster, whitewash, and fertilizer. The kilns along this trail were used in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Although Lower Bearwallow Falls is close by, the Lime Kiln trail does not provide access.
This is a nice, easy walk between the Bearwallow and White Pines Picnic areas.
This popular trail is jointly maintained by Gorges State Park and the Pisgah Ranger District. The trail accesses the Horse Pasture River and follows it upstream. The marked trail ends at Rainbow Falls, however hikers can continue upstream about 1/4 mile to Turtleback Falls. Once the trail leaves Gorges State Park and enters the National Forest, camping is allowed anywhere along the trail. There are signs to indicate when you are entering and leaving State Park property. Hikers should be aware of all State and Federal rules in these areas. Be aware that waterfalls can be extremely dangerous. Serious injuries and deaths have occurred along this trail. It is not recommended that anyone swim in the Horse Pasture River. Water levels can rise unexpectedly and even the best swimmers may be swept downstream by strong currents.
This trail accesses eight popular primitive backpack campsites at the Raymond Fisher campground. These sites are reservable and on a first-come first-served basis. They include a tent pad with a picnic table, lantern hook, and fire pit. There is an outhouse with two toilets located on site. Campers must register at the trailhead by filling out an envelope with their contact and vehicle information before occupying a site. The campsites are located around the old Raymond Fisher home site. All that is left of the home site is a small stack of foundation stone. There is a small pond next to the campsites. Swimming is prohibited. Fishing is allowed with a valid NC Fishing Permit however the only fish in the pond are small catfish.
This trail is an easy hike from the Visitor Center down to the Bearwallow Valley Observation Deck. Depending on the weather, great views of the park and Lake Jocassee are possible. From here visitors can choose to continue hiking the Bearwallow Valley Trail or return to the Visitor Center.