Sassafras Mountain

Sassafras Mountain recently gained an overlook thanks to the efforts of some Clemson University graduate students. Last Saturday, I made my way up U.S. 178 (aka Moorefield Memorial Highway) to visit the summit to see for myself this overlook and whatever else of interest in the area I could find.

Sassafras Mountain is located at the North Carolina-South Carolina border near the community of Rocky Bottom in northern Pickens County. The South Carolina side of the mountain was purchased from Duke Energy by the DNR in 2004, as recorded by a deed available from Pickens County Public Records. Another 4.8 acres on the North Carolina side is being donated to the South Carolina DNR by The Conservation Fund. The new overlook, installed September 2012, is the start of the Sassafras Mountain Improvement Project. Plans for the project include an observation tower with a 360-degree view, new trails, and restrooms. To help raise funds for the observation tower, custom engraved brick pavers can be purchased that will be placed at the base of the tower. As soon as I figure out something worthy to say, I think I just might buy a brick.

The day was cold, with some snow possible later in the day, so I made sure to dress appropriately. The summit was even colder, and I had forgotten my gloves, so my hands got cold and stiff after only a few minutes outside. I had to go back to the car to warm them back up.

The overlook is just a short distance from the parking area.
And the view that day was quite nice, despite the increasing clouds.
Two trucks were in the parking area. Nobody but me was around, so I presumed their owners were hiking on Foothills Trail.
My next plan was to visit Virginia Hawkins falls using Horse Pasture Road. Horse Pasture Road turned out to be a narrow, bumpy, gravel road that I had no desire to try that day with my low riding car. So I turned around and continued north to see what else I could find.

I came across some decaying shacks, but with nowhere to park safely I kept going. In Rocky Bottom, I came across this church down a narrow, paved road.
Rocky Bottom Independent Baptist Church was founded in 1941 and seems to be thriving, considering the tiny size of the community. Cemeteries are located on two sides. The oldest marker I found was this one from 1941:
As I approached the border, I found a few other items of interest, but no good place to park. I finally found a spot at the border. I took a photo of the border signs to record the GPS location (my camera has a GPS built in). I had no plans to keep or post them. I changed my mind when I noticed something about the signs. South Carolina's sign was fine.

But North Carolina's was full of bullet holes! A brewing border war? Of course not, but it was weird to see.
A short distance back inside the border were a few items of interest. Well, of interest to me that is.

First, was a cluster of icicles along the roadside. It's fascinating how different the climate is up here, yet it's so close by.
Next was a spring by the roadside. No doubt used by thirsty travelers "back in the day".
Just below the state line was a marker where we find out Moorefield Memorial highway is named after Charles Moorefield, a former state highway commissioner.
 Just to the marker's left is a fading sign painted by someone concerned about your religious status.
I drove a few miles into North Carolina looking for more photo opportunities, but the clouds were getting thicker and darker, so I turned around and headed home.

The locations I visited are marked in the map below:

View Sassafras Mountain in a larger map
Meta note: I left the images centered (the default) this time.


  1. What? You didn't stop by Bob's Place for a beer?

    When I was about 3 or 4 my father worked as a counselor at Rocky Bottom. We would go up and spend part of the summer. I don't remember much about those days.

    Looks like you had a good trip. I'm hoping to get up there sometime myself.

    1. I'm not brave enough to enter Bob's Place. (that and I don't drink)

    2. I wouldn't stop at Bob's Place either. They don't seem like a place that's open to the public.


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