BEST AREAS FOR WILDERNESS CAMPING
SUMTER NATIONAL FOREST 360,000 acres. Sumter National Forest consists of three separate parcels of land in northwest South Carolina. Much of this part of the state is hilly, and near the North Carolina border the terrain is ruggedly mountainous.
There are numerous streams and waterfalls here, along with a major stretch of the Chattooga National Wild and Scenic River, which runs along the Georgia border. Forests include hardwoods and pine, with a few small stands of old-growth trees.
Sumter has one designated wilderness area, the 7,012-acre Ellicott Rock Wilderness, which extends into nearby North Carolina and Georgia. Deer, fox, and wild turkey are among the wildlife found in this National Forest.
Activities: Backpacking and hiking are possible on over 200 miles of trails. Included are a portion of the 75-mile Foothills Trail (see entry page 256), a section of the Bartram Trail, and 16 miles of the 37-mile Chattooga Trail, which follows the Chattooga River. Difficulty ranges from easy to strenuous.
Among other trails in this National Forest are the 26-mile Long Cane Trail loop and the 28-mile Buncombe Trail loop, which are also open to horseback riders and mountain bikers.
The Chattooga River is famous for whitewater rafting, canoeing, and kayaking, and has some challenging stretches. Canoeing is available on some other rivers and streams as well. Fishing is possible, and hunting is permitted in season.
Camping Regulations: Designated campsites are found along many of the trails. Camping is allowed
elsewhere, as are campfires, but a free permit is generally required for camping at other than established sites. Low-impact practices are strongly encouraged. Groups should be no larger than 10.
An exception to the permit policy is made for two areas. No permit is required for camping in the Ellicott Rock Wilderness, or in the Chattooga River corridor, which extends one-quarter mile on either side of the river. One may camp almost anywhere in those areas, but sites must be at least 50 feet from streams, trails, and the river, and at least one-quarter mile from roads.
For Further Information: Sumter National Forest, P.O. Box 2227, Columbia, SC 29202; (803)765-5222.