Eastatoe Creek Narrows (5-31-15)
Eastatoe Creek Heritage Preserve is a 374 acre tract of land within the Jocassee Gorges that protects an exceptionally rugged and unique piece of the South Carolina upcountry. The highlight for those visiting the preserve is the gorge through which Eastatoe Creek flows, culminating at its lower end in a final, tumultuous drop through what is aptly known as 'The Narrows". Here, Eastatoe Creek is squeezed through a deep rock channel no more than a few feet wide. The variety of the scenery along this hike, culminating in the thunderous view of the Narrows, makes this a spectacular afternoon hike.
I'd be heading into the gorge from the trailhead which is located off Horsepasture Road, just north of the tiny community of Rocky Bottom, SC. The initial mile-and-a-half of the hike is gently rolling as the path follows an old roadway out along Narrow Ridge. Nearing the end of the ridge the path dives off the ridge into the gorge. Based on what I found, guides tend to overblow the difficulty of this descent (and the return climb). It is a steep drop into the gorge but the trail is in excellent condition and makes good use of switchbacks to dull the strain of the descent/climb. That said, it is a very good workout. At the bottom the trail ends at a small wooden overlook with a head-on view of the spectacular Narrows. Wanting to get a bit more up-close-and-personal view of the Narrows I ended up off-trail for a while but for most the view from the platform is more than suitable. So, come on along with me and see what I found in this remote and rugged corner of the Jocassee Gorges...
Trailhead GPS Coordinates: 35.049105, -82.816262
Hike Length: 5.5 miles Hike Duration: 2:45
Trailhead Temp: 80'F
Min. Elevation: 1,250' Max. Elevation: 1,950'
Total Vertical Gain: 700' Avg. Elevation Gain / Mile: 280' (on the return)