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Foothills Trail

A lesser-known thru hike through the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains.

Hiking Difficult

114 km
4 km
4.1 km
1 day +
Low Point
336 m
High Point
1.1 km
Foothills Trail Map

Lesser known than the iconic Appalachian, Benton MacKaye, or Pinhoti Trails, the Foothills Trail is a hidden gem that deserves credit of its own. The Foothills Trail Conference proudly proclaims that Backpacker Magazine rated it as “one of the best long trails fifty plus miles in the country".


Conceived in the 1960's, the development of the trail involved collaboration between several agencies, including the USFS, Clemson University, and Duke Power Company - among others. The 70+ mile trail, completed in the early 1980's, now links Oconee State Park to Table Rock State Park in an epic, rugged traverse through the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains.

Foothillstrail.org lists 5 major trailheads, one at each terminus and others at US-178, SC-130, and SC-107. Getting to any of the trailheads from the nearby interstates is quite easy and "Kiosk registration is required for both day and overnight hikers."

Don't let the name "Foothills" fool you into thinking there going will be easy trek - the trail climbs an incredible 15,000' along the way! The Foothills Trail Conservancy suggests allocating 5 - 10 days to complete an entire thru-hike and overnight campsites are prevalent along the way. Water is also abundant along the way, but should always be filtered or treated first.

Nearing 3,600', the highest point of the trail comes at Sassafras Mountain. Sweeping views from this grandstand make it a popular destination for shorter day hikes. The summit is also accessible by car for anyone looking to snag some views without the hike.

Both commercial and volunteer shuttle services are available, making it even easier to complete a thru-hike of the entire trail. More information can be found here

Sources: https://foothillstrail.org/ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/FoothillsTrail



Hiking trails where obstacles such as rocks or roots are prevalent. Some obstacles can require care to step over or around. At times, the trail can be worn and eroded. The grade of the trail is generally quite steep, and can often lead to strenuous hiking.

High Exposure

3 out of 4

Some trail sections have exposed ledges or steep ascents/descents where falling could cause serious injury.


3 out of 4

Little chance of being seen or helped in case of an accident.

Best time to visit

all year round


  • Wildlife
  • Historical
  • Picturesque
  • Summit Hike
  • Dog friendly
  • Wild flowers
  • Water features
  • Family friendly
  • Forestry or heavy vegetation

Similar routes nearby

Guidebooks in this area