There are no shortages for places to hike here in Jackson County and in the surrounding areas. The winter months are a great time to see beloved hikes in a new light. A favorite of this reporter’s is the Bad Creek Trail that leads to Ellicot and Commissioners’ Rock. This six-mile round-trip hike is known as a place where North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia meet.
According to the Stay and Play in the Smokies website, the trail is recognized in the National Register of Historic Places.
The website gives a brief history of the area.”Andrew Ellicott surveyed this area and carved the “N G” in 1811 to originally mark where N.C. and Ga. met in order to settle a dispute between the two states on where the border should be. He ended up finding that the border should be several miles south of where the Georgians claimed it was. Considering Ellicott was hired by the State of Georgia to complete the surveying, they didn’t receive this information with open arms, and in turn denied Ellicott his pay.”
The website continues to explain how Commissioners’ Rock, which is located 15-feet downriver from Ellicott Rock, received its name. This rock was labeled with “LAT 35, AD 1813″ and “NC + SC” in 1813 by two commissioners from North and South Carolina as the determined the boundary line between the two states.
Although the history seems like it would make for an interesting trip, the fun is found in climbing across the weathered rocks to discover the faint etches made by these men so long ago. Ellicott Rock is found at the apex of the hike. Bring a group of friends and make it a challenge-the first person to find the carvings gets a prize!
After the three-mile downhill hike and exploring Ellicott Rock, adventurers can spend a leisurely moment resting next to the Chattooga River on the abundance of logs and rocks that are just the right size for a towel and a nap.
The three-mile hike in is a slight downhill experience with a few bumps along the way, but do not let its relative ease fool you! Three miles down means three miles uphill on the way back and it is definitely a rigorous hike. But the beautiful scenery and wildlife make this hike worth it! There are also plenty of beautiful places to stop along the way for a rest.
When hiking in the winter, make sure that you start out early in the day to leave yourself room to exit the trail before dark. Nighttime falls quickly down in the gorge; do not forget your flashlight, just in case!
Stay and Play in the Smokies suggests adding the following amenities to your pack for day hikes in the winter: “a warm fleece sweater or jacket, rain pants, warm hat, water proof gloves, hiking socks and a towel.”
In the warmer months, there is one larger primitive camping area with two smaller ones off to the right next to the Chattooga River. These spots sport fire pits and designated trails that lead to the river. Visitors are asked to practice Leave No Trace and to be aware of all wilderness rules and regulations, which can be found posted at a kiosk at either trailhead.
If visitors continue on the trail, they will come out at the second North Carolina entrance at the Ellicott Rock Trailhead located in Macon County on Horse Cove Road.
Before beginning on your hike through the Chattooga Gorge from either entrance it is highly suggested to take a moment to drive to the “Iron Bridge” and check out the current water level. From the Bull Pen Road entrance, the bridge is located after a five-minute drive past the trailhead.
For more information check out stayandplayinthesmokies.com/vendor/bad-creek-trail-to-ellicott-commisioner-rocks/.