Mountain Bridge Wilderness -- Rim of the Gap Loop, SC (10-1-14) - dwhike
<b>Pinnacle Pass Trail</b> - Looking east from the overlook atop Little Pinncale, Jones Gap opens up into the valley of the Middle Saluda River while the jumbled peaks of the Blue Ridge rise beyond...

The Mountain Bridge Wilderness is a 40,000 acre tract of fabulously rugged mountain country located just below the North Carolina line, north of Greenville. It gets its name from the fact that it, when it was formed, 'bridged' a gap in protected land along the Blue Ridge Front between Jones Gap and Caesar's Head State Park's. Though not a federally designated wilderness, the Mountain Bridge Wilderness certainly exudes the essence of wilderness. The trails and landscape are incredibly rugged...I seriously doubt that mile-for-mile there are a more knee-busting collection of hikes in Upstate South Carolina than what you will find here.

My plan was to make a grand 11-mile loop through the wilderness, along the way taking in two of South Carolina's most amazing trails (according to the guide I was using). One of these trails is the Pinnacle Pass Trail, which climbs some 1,500 feet out of Jones Gap in around 2 miles to what is reputed to be one of the finest mountain views in the south (I found out that was stretching things a bit, but trust me it was still very beautiful). The other would be the famous Rim of the Gap Trail which for 2-miles laces its way along and around rock clefts, desperately wedged at times between sheer rock walls above and a vertical 1,000' drop to the valley below. This had all the makings of an epic hike right from the get go. I knew it was going to kick my butt...it had been a while since I had planned a hike of this length...but it was going to be great to stretching myself a bit once again. What I found certainly stretched me, though I found the hype about the stunning scenery on this hike to be overblown. Never-the-less it was great to be back on a high-mileage hike after too long a break. Come on along as I discover yet another ruggedly beautiful corner of my southern mountains...


Hike Length: 11.5 miles                Hike Duration: 5:15

Trailhead Temp: 60'F

Min. Elevation: 1,320'                   Max. Elevation: 3,000'

Total Vertical Gain: ~2,000'          Avg. Elevation Gain / Mile: 174'