Oconee County High Point Trip Report

Fork Mtn (3,294 ft)

Date: January 16, 1999
Author: Ron Tagliapietra

Both points are trail-less peaks of the Ellicott Rock Wilderness Area. For Fork Mtn (3,294 ft), park at the Walhalla Fish Hatchery off SC 107. Hike 5 minutes on the East Fork Trail until you cross the East Fork of the Chattooga River. You can hike the trail another minute if you wish as the trail climbs, but from the rest of the ascent (1.5-mile hike with 800-foot gain) is bushwhack. We stayed on the ridge line of brush and trees to avoid the dense growth in the ravines. Do not stop at the false summit.

Partial views through the bare trees made us glad that we did not try this in winter [sic] when brush would be denser and there would be no views at all. For the rival HP (an unnamed bump 3280+) supplement your topo with the Trail Guide for the Andrew Pickens Ranger District (Sumter NF). This topo has 100-foot contours so does not show the bump as well but is shows a trail and an old logging road both essential to your hike and neither of which are on the USGS topo. We parked at Sloan Bridge Picnic Area (unsigned turnout with picnic tables) on SC 107 just north of SC 413.

The Foothill Trail passes through this picnic area, but instead we hiked north on SC 107 a few yards to cross the East Fork of the Chattooga River. Here the Fork Mtn. Trail (sign says only Hiking Trail) parallels Slatten Branch upstream for a half-mile until the trail makes a sharp left and crosses it. Bushwhacking 20 minutes through dense brush north to northeastward, we came to an old jeep or logging road. This is shown as an unmaintained trail on the map, so we had not counted on finding it. Through overgrown in spots, it is decent for hiking. We followed it up to the gap between the SC bump and the NC peak (Ellicott Mtn.) at the unsigned wilderness boundary. A one-minute bushwhack through sparse brush and trees brought us to the top of the bump. Since we saw that the jeep road ascended Ellicott Mtn. (3720+), we decided to climb it also (head up at both forks following map).

Descent was easy following the jeep trail the entire 1.5 miles to SC 107 (where dirt mounds block access and signs forbid vehicle access). Walk south a minute to your car.

Conclusions: While on the bump, I used my clinometer to sight on Fork Mtn. (possible only in winter). I measured a three-degree inclination and another sighting agreed with this. When I recognized we were sighting on treetops, I made an effort to sight again on the land top and got an inclination of 1.5 degrees. In any event, I think Fork Mtn. is the highpoint. Those wishing to do hike the rival bump also, should park at Sloan Bridge Picnic Area and walk north on SC 107 about a minute on the road to find the old jeep path which goes left a mile to the bump.