An awesome rapid on the Chauga River that is beyond words but only six tenths of a mile from the road.
In the Sumter National Forest, a little north of Walhalla South Carolina on the Chauga River is an interesting and somewhat easy to reach water feature called the Chauga Narrows. Only 6/10’s of a mile from the trailhead, this extremely turbulent spot on the river consists of a short waterfall along with a 200ft Class VI rapid that is very loud and beautiful. It is really a neat spot to visit but isn’t a safe spot to bring small children. You are literally right on the narrows when you visit this destination and the wet rocks can be very slippery. However, for the responsible hiker, this moderate hike is a must see spot in the upstate of South Carolina.
The trailhead for the Chauga Narrows starts at Blackwell Bridge in Mountain Rest South Carolina. Blackwell Bridge is located on Whetstone Road about 4 miles from Highway 28. It is easy to locate as Blackwell Bridge is the only bridge crossing a major river on Whetstone Road. There is parking available on both sides of the bridge but the trailhead is on the downriver side of the bridge. If you are approaching from Highway 28 it would be on your left. There are no restroom facilities at the trailhead. Blackwell Bridge is about 75 minutes from Greenville South Carolina or about 2 hours from Atlanta Georgia.
The trail follows the Chauga River downstream the entire hike and initially is on an old roadbed that is very easy to follow. You will get some nice views of the Chauga River as it is very peaceful and mellow. It had us wondering how something so calm could turn into the torrent we read about.
As you continue on the trail it narrows and becomes loose, a little hard to follow. You are still paralleling the river but you won’t always be right next to it.
When the trail curves right, you are almost there but the trail becomes more difficult as the terrain changes significantly. For the last 1/10 of a mile you may need to use your hands as you descend down to the rocky shore of the Chauga Narrows.
The trail puts you right at the base of a beautiful waterfall that marks the start of the Chauga Narrows. The small rocky shore provides a great view of the waterfall that continues downstream the entire length of the narrows. There isn’t a lot of room, however, between the rocky cliffs and the river. You have to be very mindful of the slippery wet areas and the water level of the river as there may be times after heavy rains when it simply isn’t safe to be on the rocky bank. Use good judgment and don’t take any unnecessary risks. The hike is only 6/10’s of a mile so it would be easy to come back when conditions are safer. However, if you are able to enjoy the beauty of the awesome Chauga Narrrows, you will want to hang out for quite some time at this gorgeous spot in the Sumter National Forest.
This is an out and back hike so hike safely back to the parking area when you have finished enjoying the Chauga Narrows.