Rock Gorge

Rock Gorge

Approximate size (acres): GA 3,877; SC 6,802
Old-growth known (acres): GA 516; SC 425

Bordered by other Mountain Treasures, this section of the Chattooga River is the most remote along the Georgia-South Carolina border. The Rand Mountain Inventoried Roadless Area encompasses most of the Georgia side, and swaths of inventoried roadless area also lie in South Carolina. Few trails even penetrate this area – there are none on the Georgia side. In South Carolina, the Foothills Trail, the longest trail in the South Carolina mountains, descends to the river then angles away again where the terrain becomes just too rugged. This section of trail feels as isolated as any in the southeast.

The ruggedness reaches a peak in Rock Gorge itself, but not by much. Big Bend, where the river completes a hairpin turn and goes over its largest single drop, offers a similar dramatic landscape. Reed Creek, a large Georgia tributary, enters through its own gorge. In South Carolina, King Creek plunges over an 80-foot cascade to reach the river.

Between Rock Gorge and Reed Creek, Big Mountain falls away steeply on all sides. Those slopes support hundreds of acres of old-growth oak and pine forest, the largest concentration in the area. However, old-growth oak-pine also persists in the gorges (some right along the Foothills Trail), and even on some of the more accessible ridges. Recent logging has also largely bypassed the area. Three stands in the Mose Branch area are the only ones cut in the last 40 years on the Georgia side. The lack of logging and road building has kept the large, cool streams in the area clean for trout.

Help us protect this 16,000-acre oasis of waterfalls, old-growth, rare species, panoramic views, and world-class trails.


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