About the Roundtop Mountain
The passage adds a 5.1-mile forested footpath and creates opportunities for circular hikes in the Jocassee Gorges wilderness in Pickens County.
Roundtop Mountain Passage is located between the Foothills Trail and the Palmetto Trail’s Blue Ridge Electric Co-op Passage in the unique Jocassee Gorges. From the Sassafras Mountain overlook, hikers will travel about a mile down the Foothills Trail toward Table Rock State Park. Signs will identify the Palmetto Trail split, and a trailhead kiosk about 150 feet down the Roundtop Mountain Passage will display a map and other important information. The address for Sassafras Mountain overlook is 1399 F Van Clayton Memorial Hwy, Sunset, SC 29685. At 3,553 feet, Sassafras Mountain is the highest point in South Carolina.
The Roundtop Mountain Passage is accessed from the Sassafras Mountain parking area. Traveling approximately one mile from Sassafras Mountain, the highest point in South Carolina, toward Table Rock State Park along the Foothills Trail one discovers the intersection of the Roundtop Mountain Passage of the Palmetto Trail. This intersection is clearly signed detailing the direction to Table Rock State Park, to Sassafras Mountain, and to continue on the Palmetto Trail on the Roundtop Mountain Passage. About 150 feet from this intersection of trails, there is a kiosk with a map of the Roundtop Mountain Passage. Continuing along the trail you will be passing along a ridge that slowly rises to a rhododendron stand that is the current highpoint of the passage. From this high point there is a view of the North Carolina Mountains. This view is particularly fine during the winter season. The trail begins to descend along a ridge of open hard woods continuing down an abandoned woods road to an open food plot/meadow. At this point, there are future plans for a spur trail to a particularly protected and fine stand of Carolina Hemlocks at the summit of Roundtop Mountain. The trail continues to descend SCDNR’s access road, Roundtop Mountain Road. Along this road is an overlook to a view across Poplar Hollow Creek to the rock face of Rock Mountain. This spectacular rock face can only be seen from the ground at this overlook. The trail continues to descend to the intersection with SCDNR’s Poplar Hollow Road. The trail takes a left at this intersection and follows Poplar Hollow Road for 2+ miles to the intersection with SCDNR’s Horse Mountain Road. The trail continues to the right on Horse Mountain Road for about ¼ mile to the intersection of the Blue Ridge Electric Co-op Passage of the Palmetto Trail. At this intersection there are signs that direct you either to US-178, or to Table Rock State Park. Of note there is a campsite with a water source about ½ mile along the Blue Ridge Electric Co-op Passage toward Table Rock.
The connection now made with the Roundtop Passage and the Foothills Trail allows for two interesting weekend hiking options. The first is to begin at Jones Gap State Park. A second option is utilizing the Blue Ridge Electric Co-op Passage from Table Rock State Park, the Roundtop Mountain Passage, and the Foothills Trail back to Table Rock State Park for a 23+mile loop hike.