One to Three Day Hikes in the Jocassee Gorges

Day Hike 1 
Canebrake Access on Lake Jocassee to Laurel Falls Access on Lake Jocassee. Distance: 5.8 miles.

Our most popular day hike, this trail segment contains both steep ascents and descents, as well as spectacular views of Lake Jocassee.  Most groups complete this hike in from 3.5 to 4 hours.  There is one quite steep ascent, which leads to the best views of Lake Jocassee. Hikers call it ‘Heartbreak Ridge’.

This is a boat-in / boat-out excursion. Expect it to be about a 6 to 7 hour day in the field. It takes about 0.75 hours to get to the Canebrake Access, and about 0.5 hours to return from the Laurel Falls Access to the dock at Devils Fork State Park.

Day Hike 2 

Canebrake Access to Horsepasture Access. Distance 7.8 miles.

This hike crosses Cobb Creek and Bear Creek before descending to the Wild and Scenic Horsepasture River. It takes most hikers about 5 hours to complete this hike.  You'll travel by boat to the northern most part of Lake Jocassee at the Canebrake Access. The boat shuttle alone makes this hike worthwhile!

This is a boat-in / boat out excursion. Expect it to be about a 6 to 7 hour day in the field.  It takes about 0.5 hours to get to the Horsepasture Access to begin your hike, and about 0.75 hours to return from the Canebrake Access to the dock at Devils Fork State Park.


Day Hike 3 

Laurel Valley Access to the Laurel Falls Access. Distance: 8.1 miles.

This is mostly a down slope hike that crisscrosses Laurel Fork Creek and offers a lovely lunch stop at Virginia Hawkins Falls about half way along.  You'll pass the overlook to beautiful Laurel Fork Falls not far from the end of the hike.

Boat shuttle to Devils Fork State Park and car shuttle to your car at Laurel Valley parking lot required.


Day Hike 4 

Bad Creek Access to Horsepasture River Access. Distance 8.6 miles

You'll pass the spur to Hilliard Falls (do it!), cross both the Thompson and Whitewater Rivers, as well as Bear Creek and Bearcamp Creek on this spectacular hike.

Boat shuttle to Devils Fork State Park and car shutlle to return you to your car at the Bad Creek Access required. 


Day Hike 5

Horsepasture River Access to Hilliard Falls and back. Distance 7.4 miles.

This is the only out and back hike we service, and what a jewel it is.  The hike crosses Bearcamp Creek on the way to Hilliard Falls, named after the founder of the Foothills Trail Conference, Glenn Hillard.

This is a boat-in, boat-out hike.


Day Hike 6 

Laurel Valley Access to Canebrake Access. Distance: 13.9 miles.

This hike combines the hikes as described in Day Hikes 1 and 3.  Virginia Hawkins Falls and the overlook at the top of Laurel Fork Falls can be enjoyed on this hike. 

Boat shuttle to Devils Fork State Park and car shuttle to return you to your car at the Laurel Valley required.

Day Hike 7 

Bad Creek Access to Canebrake Access. Distance: 16.4 miles.

This hike combines the hikes described in Day Hikes 2 and 5.  The hike includes bridge crossings on the Whitewater and Thompson Rivers and ends at the Canebrake Access, just a half mile or so from the Toxaway River suspension bridge, just as it enters Lake Jocassee. There is a short spur along the way of 0.2 miles to view Hilliard Falls. 

Boat shuttle to Devils Fork State Park and car shuttle to return you to your car at the Bad Creek Access required.


Two Day Hikes 

Two day hikes can be composed of any number of combinations of the many day hikes described.

Multiple Day Hike: The Jocassee Gorges Traverse (challenging/breathtaking)

Two to Three Day Hike, Laurel Valley Access to Bad Creek Access. Distance: 30.3 miles.

This is the full monty! It takes in the distances covered by both "Day Hikes 5 and 6", effectively traversing the Jocassee Gorges. It is 16.4 miles from Bad Creek to Canebrake, and 13.9 miles from Canebrake to the Laurel Valley, so take your pick on which way to proceed. Either way, there are several well maintained campsites, including the remarkably beautiful campsite where the Toxaway River enters Lake Jocassee. Car shuttle would be required.


Short  Hikes Across The Jocassee Gorges

By dividing Hike 1, from Canebrake to Laurel Fork Falls, into two hikes, you can choose between a  2 or 4 mile hike, both much shorter than the other hikes available within the Jocassee Gorges.

Short Hike 1: The hike from Canebrake Access to Rock Creek is about 2 miles, but quess what you encounter in the middle of the hike? Heartbreak Ridge! That makes this a rather challenging short hike.  Look at it this way. Even though you've hiked only 2 miles, you can tell you friends you conquered Heartbreak Ridge, a major accomplishment along the Foothills Trail.

Short Hike 2: The second section of the hike from Canebrake to Laurel Fork Falls is the hike from Rock Creek to the Laurel Fork Access, a hike of about 4 miles.  While a bit longer than Short Hike 1, it allows you to avoid Heartbreak Ridge! Your knees will thank you.

Both hikes are boat-in, boat-out hikes.

Quick Notes: Jocassee Gorges hikes are rated moderate to strenuous due to elevation gain.

* We recommend adding an hour or two at the end of your hike to enjoy the beauty of Lake Jocassee. See the waterfalls, the bird life, and the wild river gorges that make our lake so famous.

** We would be glad to bring along your favorite food and beverages for your return trip to the dock.

*** We highly recommend reviewing the ‘Guide to the Foothills Trail’, and the FHT map, both provided by the Foothills Trail Conservancy, before beginning your hike. They quide and map can be purchased online from the FTC.





Lake Jocassee Weather

Partly Cloudy



Partly Cloudy

Humidity: 72%

Wind: 3.73 m/h

  • 20 Jul 2019

    Thunderstorms 87°F 74°F

  • 21 Jul 2019

    Scattered Thunderstorms 88°F 73°F

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Phone: 864-280-5501

We depart from the main boat dock at Devils Fork State Park, Salem SC, 28676