Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forests
The Rocky Gap Trail in South Carolina and the Willis Knob Trail in Georgia combine to offer 27.5 miles of some of the most scenic horseback riding and hiking in the Southern Blue Ridge Mountains. Winding across deeply dissected ridges, the trails descend into the beautiful Chattooga Wild & Scenic River drainage. The 12.5-mile Rocky Gap Trail has several loops, while the Willis Knob Trail is designed as one large 15-mile continuous loop. Each trail crosses several gravel roads, allowing you to plan trips from one-half mile to the full 27.5 miles.
Three fords, Adline Branch, Moss Mill, and Big Island, permit crossing the Chattooga River from one to the other. These replace the crossings at Earls Ford and Sandy Ford that are now closed to horse use.
Important: High water levels make for difficult crossings at Adline Branch, Moss Mill, and Big Island. All are negotiable for experienced riders at normal water levels, but Adline Branch is the preferred crossing. Be aware of the possibility of heavy rain by checking weather forecastsotherwise you might be trapped on the opposite side of the river from your vehicle.
Georgia: Groups wishing to camp in Georgia can stay at the Willis Knob Hone Camp located on Goldmine Road. This camp provides two loopsthe forward loop offers one double unit site and three single unit sites; and the back loop has one double unit site and one single unit site. There are toilet facilities (handicapped accessible), drinking water, group campfire areas, 20 stalls, and a spring-fed watering trough. Each campsite has a cooking grill, picnic table, and a lantern post.
South Carolina: Many riders begin their trip at Whetstone Hone Camp, located just south of Earls Ford Road. This area offers 20 sites, some of which may be reserved. The camp has centrally located drinking water and chemical toilet facilities (handicapped accessible), cooking grills, hitching rails, tables, and lantern posts. A day use parking area is located across the road from the camp.
Georgia: From Clayton, go east on Warwoman Road for 11.6 miles. Turn right on Goldmine Road (FS 157, gravel road) and travel 0.2 miles to Woodall Ridge Day Use Parking Area on the left. Continue 1.9 miles to Willis Knob Horse Camp on the left side of the road.
South Carolina: From Walhalla, go north on SC 28 for 6 miles. Turn left 1/4 mile past the U.S. Forest Service Office onto Whetstone Road. Go through the four-way stop. At pavement end, continue on the gravel road approximately 3/4 miles. A sign indicating Whetstone Horse Camp will be on the left. Day use parking is on the right.
Groups can make reservations, either by phone or letter. The Whetstone Horse Camp has several sites that may be reserved. All sites will be available on a first-come, first-served basis if no reservations have been made. Reservations must be made at least 14 days in advance. To reserve facilities in South Carolina contact the Andrew Pickens Ranger District.
The Willis Knob Horse Camp is available by reservation only. The entire camp, which includes eight sites, can be reserved, or one of the two loops containing three or five sites can be reserved. Reservations must be made and applicable fees received at least ten days in advance. Contact the Tallulah Ranger District for reservations of facilities in Georgia.
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication