Following some of the most scenic terrain in the Carolinas along the Blue Ridge Escarpment, the Foothills Trail is considered one of the nation's greatest long hikes. The trail runs from Oconee State Park to Table Rock State Park near the SC-NC border, providing epic views of the southern Appalachians that you can share with your on-leash pups.
Stretching for more than 70 miles, the Foothills Trail has any number of starting points to chose from. Most visitors break this journey up over several visits, but trailside camping is allowed in certain National Forest segments for through-hikers. If your pups love ruffing it, you can tackle the entire Foothills over several days.
The southeastern trailhead is best reached via a connector trail from Oconee State Park. While entrance fees apply at state parks, the secure parking, water, restroom facilities, and helpful rangers ensure you start off on the right paw. The first stretch of trail is relatively calm, sticking close to SC Hwy 107 through deep forest. After Burrel's Ford Road, the Foothills intersects the Bartram Trail (a shortcut to the Appalachian Trail, if you're trying to sample all the big-dog hikes in the region) and descends into the Chattooga Gorge.
Many waterfalls are visible along this scenic hike. Some fur families jump on the Foothills Trail at Whitewater Falls, the largest falls in the eastern US, where day-use parking areas are available and the trail follows the Whitewater River for a while. The trail crosses into North Carolina here and spends much of its middle section in NC.
After circling Lake Jocassee and dipping back into SC, the final stretch to Table Rock State Park includes a steep ascent up Sassafras Mountain, then a descent before climbing Pinnacle Mountain -- the state's highest peak. Just imagine the dog pics you'll snap at the summit!
Various spur trails lead away from the Foothills to provide better views of waterfalls and local features, giving a network of over 100 miles of trail to explore. With your furry companions at your side, you can spend every weekend seeking out different adventures on the challenging Foothills Trail.