The United States Congress designated the Ellicott Rock Wilderness (map
) in 1975 and it now has a total of 8,274 acres
It is managed by the Forest Service.
In 1811, surveyor Andrew Ellicott determined the starting point for the North Carolina-Georgia state line and chiseled an inconspicuous mark on a rock on the east bank of the Chattooga River. Here the mountainous regions of South Carolina, North Carolina, and Georgia converge, and this is where the Ellicott Rock Wilderness straddles the Wild and Scenic Chattooga River. This is the only Wilderness area lying in three states. Rugged terrain, tall peaks, and the Wild and Scenic Chattooga River are the hallmarks of this Wilderness. Offering one of the foremost white-water trips in the eastern United States, the Chattooga floods through the middle of the area, but the wildest water lies below the Wilderness boundary, where boating is not allowed.
The Georgia terrain peaks at 3,672-foot Glade Mountain. Clear perennial trout streams that occasionally drop over small waterfalls scour the numerous steep-walled gorges. Unusual rock formations hover above some of the streams, and several threatened or endangered plants have been identified. Although logging operations intruded in the early 1900s (as evidence attests), today's forest of hardwoods (upland and cove) is more than 80 years old. Deer, squirrels, grouse, and wild turkeys are common sights in the Georgia portion of the Wilderness, along with the more elusive black bear and raccoon. Wild boars wander in from North Carolina now and then. You may see the remains of the old moonshine stills that once brewed their potions here.
Unlike many pristine areas in the western United States (but like many other southeastern Wildernesses), Ellicott Rock has been heavily impacted by humans in the not too distant past. Nevertheless, enough time has passed since the logging operations of yesteryear for impressive second-growth forests, typical of the Appalachian greenbelt, to reclaim Ellicott Rock Wilderness. Today dense stands of white pine and hemlock occupy the lower coves and areas along streams, upland hardwoods thrive on slopes, and scrub oaks and pitch pines grow on dry ridges. The region lies just south of the area that receives the highest rainfall in the eastern United States; expect some wet weather.
In South Carolina the wilderness rises from the river to a high point on Fork Mountain at 3,294 feet. Several trails originate in the South Carolina portion. From the Sloan Bridge Picnic Area on the eastern border, 6.3 miles of the Ellicott Rock Trail will take you down to Ellicott Rock itself. This trail joins the Chattooga River Trail, which follows the South Carolina side of the river south for 4.4 miles to Burrell's Ford Campground. Ellicott Rock stands relatively near millions of Americans, and use of the area is high, but along the river you'll find more solitude.