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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".
It's length makes it popular among long distance runners, and an annual trail race covers the entire 77-mile stretch. 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, though some of the fastest trail runners have clocked sub-20 hour times.
Water is 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 run. Both commercial and volunteer shuttle services are available, making it even easier to complete a thru-run of the entire trail.
More information can be found [here](https://foothillstrail.org/shuttle-service/) Sources: https://foothillstrail.org/ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Foothills_Trail