Gorges State Park

976 Grassy Ridge Road
Sapphire, NC 28774

828-966-9099

Gorges State Park is set in the midst of plunging waterfalls, rugged river gorges, sheer rock walls and a high concentration of rare species, and exploration of this unique environment often begins at the expansive visitor center with its museum-quality exhibits, augmented by picnic grounds and shelters. Backcountry-style recreation is a hallmark of Gorges with distance hiking, backpack camping, trout fishing, mountain biking and horseback riding welcome in various parts of the rugged interior. The 7,500-acre park incorporates a portion the long-distance Foothills Trail and touches Lake Jocassee at the South Carolina border. Trails and campsites continue to be developed at this relatively new state park.

Camping

Backpack camping
Gorges State Park offers primitive backcountry camping in a spectacular natural environment. A favorite park for backpackers who are looking to get away from the beaten trail, campers will find solitude after the strenuous hike.

Primitive camping is available from the Frozen Creek Access Area and the Grassy Ridge Access Area. There are six designated backpack sites along the Foothills Trail near the southern boundary of Gorges State Park. These sites are free of charge and are available on a first-come-first-served basis. They are not reservable. Access to the Foothills Trail at Gorges State Park is at the Frozen Creek parking lot. Follow the square yellow markers on the Cane Brake Trail.

Primitive camping can also be found at Raymond Fisher Campground. There are eight designated sites with fire rings, picnic tables and lantern hooks. A pit privy is also available. Access to the Raymond Fisher Camp Area is at the Grassy Ridge parking lot. Follow the blue circle markers on the Raymond Fisher Trail for 1.5 miles. While camping, visitors can enjoy the scenery and peaceful nature of the small Ray Fisher pond located within the camping area. These sites are available only by reservation (with a fee).

Activities

Hiking
The park is a great place for a hike!

Fishing and Boating
Rainbow trout, brown trout and smallmouth bass can be found in the waters of Gorges State Park. Fishermen who are up to the challenge of fishing in remote locations, are invited to try their luck. All streams and rivers in the park are designated Wild Trout Waters. Regulations of the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission apply. Anglers should exercise caution and stay away from waterfalls. Due to the rugged nature of the park and swift water currents, no swimming is allowed in rivers, creeks or ponds. Bearwallow Creek and Toxaway River both flow through the center of the park. Lake Jocassee, a deep lake straddling the North and South Carolina border is a haven for trout and bass fishermen. Boat access is available at Devil’s Fork State Park in South Carolina.

Mountain biking and horseback riding
Horses and mountain bikes are permitted on the Auger Hole Trail from the Frozen Creek access area to Turkey Pen Gap on the western boundary of Gorges State Park. The Frozen Creek access area in Rosman provides a picnic area and trailhead for the equestrian and hiking trail. Horses and mountain bikes are not permitted beyond Turkey Pen Gap.

All visitors with horses must be able to provide proof of a negative equine infectious anemia (Coggins) test while visiting North Carolina State Parks.

Picnicking
Picnic tables in the midst of the forest make Gorges State Park a pleasant spot for lunch or dinner after an exhilarating hike. Some picnic tables are wheelchair accessible. Visitors must carry out what they bring into the park. Recycling stations are located throughout the park. There are two picnic shelters and one is reservable in advance.

Waterfall Overlook
This overlook is accessible from the Bearwallow Picnic Area. The trail begins near the parking lot and is blazed with blue circles. The trail leads to a small observation platform overlooking a long cascade on Bearwallow Creek.

As the park undergoes evaluation, additional hiking trails may be developed. Existing trails in sensitive habitats may close due to concern for natural resource protection.

To minimize human impact on the park, Gorges State Park is a carry-in / carry-out facility. Recycling containers are located throughout the park for the convenience of visitors.

Please exercise caution while hiking near waterfalls. Not only are the rocks slick and the risk for injury high; many rare species thrive in the misty atmosphere created by the falls, and human contact can be detrimental to the plants' survival.

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