We started our Thursday adventure at the Station Cove Falls trailhead parking lot. The first half mile is a very relaxing ‘walk in the park’. Very little green here in winter except a few partridge berries and some Christmas ferns. There is a small kiosk and a “gate” to prevent vehicles from proceeding to the falls. There is a small six foot waterfall just to the right of the trail not far into the hike.
From the Station Cove Falls turn off point we began the climb to Oconee State Park. The first quarter of the hike is a set of switchbacks which take you up about a 1,000 feet to the ridge/old logging road. We continued on the ridge for the rest of the 3.2 miles. The trail footing is very comfortable with a bed of leaves and pine needles and some small gravel covered with leaves which was more comfortable going up than down.
Once we gained the ridge we could see for miles and miles through the leafless hardwoods along the ridge. We found a US Geological Survey marker that told us that we were indeed 1,633 feet above sea level.
The views from the ridge are wonderful in Winter. I imagine come Spring and Summer you wont see much through here.
The trail is well marked with yellow two part blazes like a big fat i. Toward the upper end the trail is crossed by the Foothills Trail and there are signs to Tamassee Knob and Hidden Falls. We did meet two lone hikers. One was a really tall fellow with a friendly dog who said he hiked the area daily. He told us where to find the geological survey marker behind a big white oak and a small rock shelter in case of lightning. Luckily not a chance of that because the seven of us would not have fit in that very small shelter. After we crossed the Foothills Trail our trail veered off to the left and we were off the logging road we had been walking. Close to the uphill end of the hike is a large bog with what looks like acres of running pine clubmoss. In these sheltered areas we found ice in large puddles left from recent rains and this…
Natural Ice Sculptures! Water squeezed right out of the ground, frozen in the midst of being pushed out. It was very cool to see. Other water features on the hike were at least half a dozen large frozen puddles with thin ice which were easily avoided and a bog-pond with scattered logs in which we all rinsed off our shoes. On this sunny day, though, the bog was really pretty.
We crossed the Foothills Trail near the Oconee State Park end. There was some green to be found. This Club Moss or Running Pine was very pretty and lush for all it’s 3 inches in height. I half expected tiny Fairies to have trails of their own through them.
The destination point of the hike was a welcome picnic table where we stopped for lunch. After some of our other destinations like Bald Rock and the “Narrows” it was a bit anti-climatic. We did not linger here long after lunch as the wind started to blow and cool down our sunny day. I really need to get a thermos for coffee or soup for these chilly days.
The trip back may be down hill but it’s not always easiest on the knees. Even with the Trekking Poles. On the way back the switchback section seemed mercifully shorter and we were glad to see the Station Cove Falls Trail. Somehow, this one was tiring on the way back. Even though we were close, we elected to forego the Station Cove Falls. The couple of charming small waterfalls that we passed on the connector trail—really just water running off the rocks and under the trail – would have to do us for today.
This was an out and back hike for us totaling 6.5 miles. We started about 9:30 and were back at the cars by 2:15. Six and a half or seven miles is my limit. It was all I could do to lift my leg high enough to get in the car, LOL! Once home an showered I fell asleep on the sofa before dinner. But boy do I love these hikes! Really :D