The demarcation between the Blue Ridge Mountains and the Foothills is abrupt, with sheer faces of granite, sharp ridgelines, and deep gorges. This route follows a spur of the 100-plus mile Foothills Trail system and leads to a sensational view along the eastern escarpment of the Blue Ridge in Headwaters State Forest in Transylvania County. In September 2018, the 6,730-acre working forest opened for foot travel and as a public game land.
The path begins at Gum Gap along the Carolina state line. Just beyond the kiosk in Gum Gap, slip past a red gate and follow the trail’s blue blazes along a timber access road. Waters flowing from the ridge into North Carolina form the East Fork of the French Broad River, and to the south the streams supply the Saluda River.
A network of old road grades creates a slightly confusing route, but it’s well marked by blue blazes. While the path itself is unexceptional, the trail’s terminus is worth the walk. At mile 2.4 stay alert for a green, unmarked trail sign. Go left at the sign and wind up a steep but short path through a grove of chestnut oaks atop Bursted Rock. Marred trees from a recent fire do not impact the glorious views from a rock slab of the towering north face of Table Rock Mountain and the South Carolina Piedmont beyond. Retrace your steps to Gum Gap.
Navigate: From the Transylvania County Courthouse in Brevard, follow US 276 south for roughly 7.1 miles and turn right on East Fork Road. In roughly 1.3 miles go left on Happy Acres Road. Follow the gravel road, and in just over 1.5 miles bear right at the fork following Gum Gap Access Road. The remaining 1.5 miles along the narrow gravel road to the trailhead at Gum Gap may not be suitable for all vehicles. Park in the lot at Gum Gap marked with a Headwaters State Forest kiosk.