Take a trip along the Chattooga River

The Iron Bridge sets the stage at the trailhead of the Chattooga Loop Trail, a 2-mile hike that runs along the Chattooga River and is a popular place to kick back and spend the day for locals and visitors alike.

Below are some  highlights along the Chattooga River:

Those looking for a more aggressive outing can skip the loop trail and continue straight for another 1.5 miles where Norton Mill Creek flows into the Chattooga River. Read full article on Norton Mill Creek HERE.

About a half mile beyond Norton Mill Creek is a spot commonly referred to as the Narrows, where two granite formations form a powerful waterfall only a couple of feet wide. The stretch of river between the Iron Bridge and the Narrows is approx. 5 miles round trip.

Iron Bridge along the Chattooga River.

The first leg of the trail begins at the Iron Bridge and runs adjacent to the Chattooga River with several spots along the way to set up on a small beach or lounge around on river rocks surrounded by brisk swim holes. Those looking to soak in the sun should plan on visiting around midday because of the tall trees on either side of the river.

After approx. a mile from the Iron Bridge the trail splits, left heads back to Bull Pen Road, which leads to the Iron Bridge parking area, and straight leads to Norton Mill Creek.

Norton Mill Creek flows from the right under the bridge and into the Chattooga River.

When taking the loop trail, there’s some elevation change making your way back to the parking area and the cool breeze at higher elevations is usually welcome on a hot summer day.

At the end of the loop trail, hikers reach a clearing where campers often stay on the left. Take a right down to Bull Pen Road and then turn left following it down to the Iron Bridge.

The Narrows up river from Norton Mill Creek.

According to the U.S Forest Service, the Chattooga River begins high in the Appalachian Mountains in North Carolina and flows approx. 50 miles to come to an end at Lake Tugaloo between South Carolina and Georgia, dropping almost a half mile in elevation.

The Chattooga River is home to a variety of wildlife.

The Chattooga was designated a Wild and Scenic River in 1974 and is one of the longest and most spectacular free-flowing mountain rivers in the Southeast.

Be wary of snakes hanging out among the river rocks, it’s best to leave them alone.

Over the Chattooga’s 50-mile stretch, the river descends an average of 49 feet per mile from its headwaters in North Carolina to the state line between South Carolina and Georgia and offers some of the best whitewater boating and trout fishing in the region.

Spring is a great time to visit the Chattooga River when the wildflowers are in bloom.

For more information from the USFS click HERE.

Iron Bridge

Narrows

Iron Bridge

Norton Mill Creek Bridge at the bottom of the photo, compare the size of the bridge to the tree on the right.

Narrows

Directions to Iron Bridge:

From Highlands: Head east on Main Street, which becomes Horse Cove Road and drive approx. 4.5 miles to the intersection of Horse Cove Road, Whiteside Cove Road, and Bull Pen Road. Turn right onto Bull Pen Road and drive about 3 miles to the Iron Bridge.

From Cashiers: Travel south from the Crossroads on Highway 107 for about 2 miles and turn right onto Whiteside Cover Road. Drive about 7.7 miles to the intersection of Whiteside Cove Road, Horse Cove Road, and Bull Pen Road. Turn left onto Bull Pen Road and travel about 3 miles to the Iron Bridge.

Article and photos by Brian O’Shea
plateaudailynews@gmail.com
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Iron Bridge

Narrows

Norton Mill Creek

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