Several weeks ago we did a meetup hike to Thrifts Ferry. Apparently this was an old ferry crossing that is no longer in use. We started at the Bull Sluice parking lot on Highway 76 in South Carolina and crossed the bridge heading towards the Georgia side of the river. The trailhead is down the stairs to your right so you never have to get on the road. The trail itself to Thrifts Ferry stays mainly on the ridgeline so although you see the river sometimes through the trees you never really get close to it until you hit Thrifts Ferry.
It was a beautiful but cold January day. I hardly noticed the cold though as I was dressed fairly warmly in layers and the up and down nature of the hike kept me warm enough. The hike itself was fairly short (as my hikes go) being about 9.2 miles in and out. We had hiked in this area before although it was on a faint path down by the river where we passed Mr. Joker Grotto, Bull Sluice, and Eight Ball among other sites. That path though would probably be quite overgrown in summer so not recommended at that time of year from my perspective. It also has lots of downed trees to cross over and under. I did like our visit to Bull Sluice from the Georgia side. There is a little creek crossing and you have to remove your shoes but worth it. You can get to these particular places from side trails off the main trail in any event.
Once we got to Thirfts Ferry at the 4.6 mile mark, we noted a nice campsite above the river. There is also a sandy beach for sunbathing and some of my fellow hikers took some time even in January to catch some rays! You can see on both sides what looks like an old road bed going down to the river. We had our lunch here and observed several kayakers entering the river across from us on the South Carolina side. They made it to Bull Sluice about the same time we made it back to our starting point.
There are several places on this hike where you can look across to South Carolina and get some nice views. Winter is a great time to see views you would not normally see when the trees are fully leaved. I noted several campsites before we got to Thrifts Ferry, one very small one close to the trail.
This is an in and out hike, 9.2 miles in length, and I’d rate it moderate. Definitely a do over!