Hike to Bursted Rock, View of East French Broad River Valley on the Gum Gap Trail

It’s been awhile since I sat down to write about our adventures in the woods.  Even though it’s been a fairly mild winter here in South Carolina, it felt longer to me this year. Ah well.  I have been longing for spring to come along with everybody else and wildflower season for sure.

Our hike to Bursted Rock started by driving into the Watson Cooper Heritage Preserve which is in South Carolina.  This is not an easily found place and you have to get there by going through North Carolina. Who would have thought?  Mr. T and I have actually been on this road before looking for something else and drove down it about halfway.  But at the time it did not seem promising.

In any event, we parked about half a mile to a mile in on the left hand side near what looks like a social trail of sorts.  The last time we were there we parked before the sign to the preserve and walked the whole way to the Gum Gap Trail.  The road has one big dip with a bit of a bare rock in the middle which I didn’t want to drive my car over but I think if you stayed to the right or had a high clearance vehicle you might make it. You can actually drive right to the end of the road to where the trail crosses it.  Try not to block the gates though as there are some houses way back in there and I’m not sure whether people drive in for that reason.

Once you hit the trail, you will be hiking west towards Sassafrass Mountain.  The trail is marked with blue blazes.  DSC04786Be careful and follow the blazes going and coming because the trail splits off in a place or two that can get confusing.  The trail itself was rolling with a few big ups and downs.  Total elevation on this hike (which was an in and out) was about 1900 including the trip up to Bursted Rock.

We decided to go on to the view of the East French Broad River Valley at Dolves Mountain to begin with because that was the end point of our hike.  It is about 1.3 past the social trail to Bursted Rock (which is not marked).  DSC04788That trail would be on your left. I think the view at Dolves Mountain would be a little prettier in a few weeks as soon as more of the leaves are out.DSC04790  DSC04797You could see a little red poking out in the foreground and some evergreens.  No picture can do the valley justice as you can only get slices of it from the rock but the naked eye can appreciate it.

We made our turn back towards Bursted Rock and the trailhead and found it about a half hour to 40 minutes later. Coming back it would be on your right. It feels like it is in something of a dip in the trail as the trail starts immediately back up hill again turning a little to the left.  The social trail goes straight on for a short distance (look for a small rusted sign on a tree in front of you which is some type of boundary sign, watershed maybe? Sorry I didn’t take note of that this time. If you look to your left, you will see some trees marked with red paint) and then you will turn right up what looks like an old road bed. I’m bad at distances but I’d guess about half a mile up or less you will hit Bursted Rock. DSC04802We estimated elevation gain here at about 400.  The trail is not heavily used, nor is it kept up so in summer I expect it would be pretty overgrown. I’m not big on bushwacking but will do it when something interests me. We have lots of snakes around here, not always the benign kind, so I’d avoid it when the weather gets warmer. This photo was taken about half way up the trail to Bursted Rock looking down.

The view from Bursted Rock is of Table Rock off in the distance. DSC04804This is a view that most people never get to see and that’s what makes it special to me. DSC04805 Again because of the time of year, the trees in the valley below were pretty bare but it was nice to sit in the sunshine.  Of course I was not sitting but off in my usual exploratory mode! I would love to come back here and just have a nice lunch and enjoy the view.

We noted the marker on the rock said Bursting Rock but I’ve seen it written up as Bursted Rock.DSC04806 I like the name Bursted Rock which is probably how the locals referred to it. I suspect someone in an official capacity wanted to clean it up so take your pick.

The hike back to the trailhead was pretty uneventful. We did make a wrong turn but caught it quickly. Be sure and watch for the blazes and stay to the right going back uphill.

I noted a trail off to the left at one point with a marker that said Headwaters State Forest. North Carolina is buying up land in this area and hopes to have about 8,000 acres. Of course I was interested in seeing where it went but am saving that for another day!

You can find a description of this section of the Gum Gap Trail in the Foothills Trail Conference book although I don’t recall seeing them talk about Bursted Rock.  I did find a reference to it in the book “Hiking South Carolina.”

Mileage: About 10

Elevation Gain: 1900

Difficulty: Strenuous

Directions:  Check out this link for directions.



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