Things To Do
Hunting in the Jocassee Gorges
The Jocassee Gorges contains populations of many
wildlife species including black bears, white-tailed deer, wild turkeys,
mourning doves, rabbits, raccoons, squirrels, bobcats, various waterfowl
species, beavers, muskrats, foxes, opossums, skunks, coyotes, groundhogs,
feral hogs, river otters and mink. Smaller populations of woodcock, ruffed
grouse and bobwhite quail are also present.
White-tailed deer, wild turkeys, black bears, raccoons and feral hogs are
the wildlife species that receive the most attention from hunters. The
Jocassee Gorges represents most of the black bear habitat in the state.
Good populations of white-tailed deer and wild turkeys are also found on
sections of the property.
Almost all of the Jocassee Gorge properties are in the S.C. Department of
Natural Resources Wildlife Management Area (WMA) Program and are available
for public hunting. Traditionally, this area has been a favorite
destination for hunters who consider the rugged, picturesque terrain an
advantage rather than a hindrance. Hunters are required to have a WMA
permit, and hunters should consult the S.C. Department of Natural
Resources "Rules & Regulations" publication for specifics.
Generally, big-game season is open from October 1 - January 1 , turkey
season from April 1 to May 1; and small-game season varies by species with
no small game hunting before September 1 or after March 1.
Fishing in the Jocassee Gorges
The Jocassee Gorges offers fishing opportunities for
those who enjoy fishing trout streams and those who prefer reservoir
fiishing (Lake Jocassee) for trout, largemouth bass, smallmouth bass and
sunfish. The more popular trout streams are Eastatoe River, Laurel Fork
Creek, Corbin Creek, Howard Creek and the Whitewater and Thompson rivers.
For fishing regulations, consult the current S.C. Department of Natural
Resources "Rules & Regulations" publication available at
license dealers, and the "Jocassee Gorges Management Plan: Fisheries
Resources of the Jocassee Gorges," which can be viewed on the
DNR web site.
Bird-watching in the Jocassee Gorges
The Southern Appalachians provide unique opportunities
for bird-watching. Although the mountains in South Carolina rarely exceed
3,000 feet, they harbor bird populations unique to the state and add an
important component to regional biodiversity. This is especially true of
the Blue Ridge Escarpment, where the mountains abruptly greet the
foothills. Here, a mixture of mountain and lower-elevation species can be
Although the mystique of many of the hidden coves and darkened stream
courses in the area is what attracts many serious birders, equally good
birding can be had along some of the more passable roads and trails. In
particular, access to the designated Nature Viewing area (look for the
binocular sign) from US 178 north of Rocky Bottom (just after the Eastatoe
Creek Bridge) provides a variety of habitats and birds. Hiking along the
Foothills Trail also provides easier access to more remote coves and
stream courses. Hikers can frequently see great blue herons keeping
solitary vigil over a clear, cool mountain stream, hunting for frogs and
Higher, drier habitats and moister coves provide a unique juxtaposition of
habitats that may harbor different species of birds. During the breeding
season, the persistent song of the red-eyed vireo can be heard from
ridgetop to deep cove. As with most species in this forest, more will be
seen than heard. Species that may be seen or heard on the drier slopes and
ridges include ovenbirds, summer tanagers, solitary vireos, pinewarblers,
black and white warblers, worm-eating warblers and Eastern towhees. In the
numerous coves, black-throated green warblers, scarlet tanagers, hooded
warblers, yellow-throated vireos, Northern parula warblers, and American
redstarts are some of the more colorful members of the songbird community
that may be observed.
Juncos winter here in abundance but do not generally nest. However,
several nests have been recorded along the highest peaks including
Sassafras and Table Rock mountains. Ravens are typically found in the
highest North Carolina mountains, 4,000 feet and higher but are sometimes
seen and heard over the Jocassee area.
Hiking - Foothills Trail
The Foothills Trail is an 80-mile footpath extending
from Table Rock State Park at its eastern terminus to Oconee State Park in
the west. Its route takes the hiker through the heart of the Jocassee
Gorges tract, to mountain crests with scenic views, to shady gorges and
coves with special botanical features. Along its route the Foothills Trail
crosses or follows most of the major streams and rivers of the Jocassee
Gorges and adjacent conservation lands including Eastatoe Creek, Laurel
Fork Creek, Toxaway River, Horsepasture River, Bearcamp Creek, Thompson
River, Whitewater River, East Fork Creek, and Chattooga River, among
Activities associated with the Foothills Trail are coordinated by the
Foothills Trail Conference. For information about the trail, purchasing a
guide book, and/or membership in the Conference, write to The Foothills
Trail Conference, PO Box 3041, Greenville, SC 29602, or call the
Conference office at (864) 467-9537.
Camping In and Around Jocassee Gorges
The question is, what kind of camping would you like to
do? The state parks surrounding the Jocassee Gorges offer everything from
pull-in RV sites for the weekend camper to rugged backcountry camping for
the avid backpacker. Jones Gap, Oconee, Table Rock, Keowee-Toxaway, Devils
Fork and Caesars Head state parks all offer camping at designated sites.
Many state park camping areas include individual water and electrical
hookups, except for overflow and tent camping; picnic tables; comfort
stations with toilet facilities and hot showers (winterized comfort
stations are available in most parks); and dump stations for RVs.
Primitive camping is available at designated sites at Jones Gap and
Caesars Head state parks.
For information about a specific park's camp sites and reservations, call
1-888-88-PARKS or visit the
South Carolina State Parks Web Site.
Primitive camping opportunities are available at Jones Gap and Caesars
Head state parks and along the 80-mile Foothills Trail, which intersects
the interior of the Jocassee Gorges tract. This trail and its spurs link
Oconee, Table Rock, Caesars Head and Jones Gap state parks along with DNR-owned
Laurel Fork Heritage Preserve and Eastatoe Creek Heritage Preserve. Access
points are along SC 11, SC 107, US 178 and SC 130. For additional
information about the Foothills Trail, contact the Foothills Trail
Conference at (864) 467-9537.
Surrounding national forest lands provide a wide range of camping
opportunities, from developed campgrounds to primitive camping
opportunities. To find out what's available, call the Andrew Pickens
Ranger District at (864) 638-9568.