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acres all to myself, or so it seemed. As I laced up my boots
I couldn't help but notice that my car was the only car in
the parking lot. That reminded me one of the best reasons
for hiking here.
Ellicott Rock Wilderness is located on the borders of Georgia,
South Carolina and North Carolina. Bisecting the wilderness
is the Chattooga Wild and Scenic River. Ellicott Rock,
the year 1811
chiseled deep into the gray stone, is the reason for
the name of this botanically significant wilderness area.
I began hiking on my favorite loop in South Carolina, a light
rain began to fall. The rain felt refreshing and only added
to the hike. At more than 80 inches of rainfall a year, rain
can be expected here without warning. The sound of trickling
water filled the air as I headed down the trail through a
dark tunnel of trees.
to maidenhair ferns, bloodroot, Catesby's trilliums, dwarf
crested irises, and the rare and endangered Oconee bell, the
elevation here ranges from 1600 to 3600 feet. Although these
not high elevations, the temperature here is 5 to 10
degrees cooler than the lower elevations southeast of here.
Rainfall is frequent and plentiful. The annual average is
from 70 to 80 inches, nearly rainforest conditions. As with
all of the Southern Appalachians, rain gear is necessary for
even the shortest hikes.
The forest is dense with impassable rhododendron and dog hobble.
Ferns and moss cover the rich and dark soil that is almost
always damp after a recent rainfall.
section of the Slatten Ridge trail is for the most part a
downhill moderate hike. For nearly seven miles this well defined
trail traverses small streams passes by several excellent
After passing the Bad Creek Trail at six miles the trail
descends steeply on switch-backs to the Chattooga River. At
the junction of the Slatten Rridge Trail and and the Chattooga
River Trail is several over used campsites.
After reaching this junction, you are only just a few feet
from Ellicott Rock, the namesake of this wonder filled wilderness
area. Today the wilderness draws its name from Andrew
Ellicott, who in surveyed the 35th parallel that today
marks the boundary.
Lat 35AD 1813 NC+SC
1813 another group of surveyors set out to determine the "actual"
border of the three states. Their intention was to verify
Ellicott's location of the border. The result of that trip
was an inscription on another rock named Commissioners Rock.
just 10 FEET south of Ellicott Rock the hand chiseled
inscription reads "LAT 35AD 1813 NC+SC". To find the
rocks, hike the Chattooga River Trail 1.7 miles north from
the junction of the East Fork Trail and the Chattooga River
Trail. After traveling 1.7 miles on the Chattooga River Trail,
you will walk over a small wooden footbridge. Look closely
to the left and along the riverbank on the Georgia side of
the river you will see two orange ribbons on the trees. This
is the place in the river that you will find both rocks. There
is also a ribbon nailed into the trees on the Chatooga River
Trail that marks the approximate location on the trail that
the border is near. I don't recommend that anyone hike to
either of these rocks because the river can be very dangerous
here. The possibility of foot entrapment and subsequent drowning
is very real. The river has claimed many victims and is very
turning left (south) on the Chattooga River Trail, the path
to the river and Ellicott Rock is only one hundred yards away.
We don't recommend that anyone hike through the river to find
the rock. This is an untamed river and sudden surges of water
can come rushing through without warning. An unseen cloud
burst many miles upstream can cause hazardous currents that
have taken several hiker's lives in the past.
to Ellicott Rock
one side trail that leads to the river is a plastic flag nailed
to a tree. This is one of several ways to access the fast
moving Chattooga River. In the center of the river is Commissioners
Island named for the other famous rock in the river. Getting
to either involves wading and getting wet. The footing can
be very tricky in this section of the river and wading here
should be avoided.
on the season that you are here, the chisel marks are not
far from the water line.