I recently had an email exchange with Randall Warren regarding an area I have yet to visit, the Jim Timmerman NRA. He enjoys the backroads of North and South Carolina in his Jeep Rubicon and offered to share some information with Georgia Overland. Below are slightly edited excerpts from our conversation.
Since I have neither verified the accuracy of the descriptions nor checked for legal vehicle travel, I feel obligated to state the obvious...Use the following information at your own risk.
About the Jim Timmerman Natural Resources Area:
...Some info on the Jim Timmerman NRA in Jocassee Gorges. Mostly in South Carolina, next to North Carolina. Horsepasture Road is 20 miles long, one way. It has two entrances and great views of Lake Jocassee.
It can be done in a Subaru-type vehicle. Uphills are a little rough. There is another road that goes 9 miles down to the lake. Lots of side roads I have not explored. A couple of creek crossings also. I think Musterground Rd is part of this area. It's 13 miles one way. These roads are open Sept 15-Jan 2, and the month of April. http://www.dnr.sc.gov/managed/wild/jocassee/management8.htm
About the Gorges State Park (3/23/12 - New Information from Randall below) :
...Info on the Gorges State Park area in NC. Chestnut Mountain Rd. is 3.5 miles. Sign says 8 inches clearance needed. Not bad till you get to the last 1/2 mile. Rocky and steep. Saw a Toyota Highlander there. Not sure it made it back up. The road becomes Bear Creek Rd. back towards South Carolina. You can hit Crossroads Mountain Rd. which goes for a couple of miles. It dead ends and you can walk down to Lake Jocassee. Not sure how far Bear Creek Rd. goes. I went about 3 miles. Auger Hole Rd is also down here. Chestnut Mountain connects to Auger Hole Road. Then Auger Hole connects to Bear Creek. It eventually dead ends at Crossroads Mountain(the mountain, not the road) where there are the two campsites. Info on these type roads is a little sketchy. Website says it eventually hooks up with Musterground. I did these trails when it was bone dry and had no problem. Fairly rocky and steep. Probably need at least 30's and 6 inch clearance. It was a lot of fun though. Couple of campsites out there also. http://www.ncwaterfalls.com/gorges1.htm
About Dupont State Park:
...Dupont State Park in NC, just over the border from SC on Hwy 276. Pinnacle Mountain Rd. has some great views and the park has a lot of dirt roads. I have a buddy of mine who rides behind my Jeep on a Kawasaki KLR. Ground clearance is not really an issue on most of these roads. Just having some weight in the back to make it up the steep sections. This is where 4wd comes in handy.
About Jocassee Gorges (3/23/12 - New Information from Randall) :
Here is a little information and some pictures from Jocassee Gorges (part of the Jim Timmerman NRA). It can be entered from Highway 178 or from Highway 11 by way of Cleo Chapman Rd. There are state parks from one end of Highway 11 to the other. Highway 11 is also a great drive, straight for the most part with views of the mountains and lakes. This website gives more information about the area, and when the backroads are open.
Randall provided a new map link and this text:
If you look at "The Gap" which is east of "LFHP", you'll notice that the road splits. Horsepasture goes left. I haven't been on this. Don't know if it's still open(more research). The road that I labeled as Horsepasture is really Cane Brake, Jackie's Ridge, & Dawkins Flat. Same road, three different names. They meet back up with Horsepasture just before Jumping Off Rock.http://www.dnr.sc.gov/managed/wild/jocassee/map.pdf
About Horsepasture Road:
Horsepasture Road goes through the Jocassee Gorges area, which is a part of the Jim Timmerman Natural Rescources Area. Horsepasture Road is about 22 miles long. Ground clearance is not really an issue, unless the hills have not been scraped. They had just been scraped when I was there yesterday, but last year they were pretty deep. Good tires are needed to make it up the hills. 4wd or AWD would be helpful for making it up the hills. Not technical, just steep. The rest of the road is pretty easy. There are also a couple of creek crossings. There are a few campsites and a couple of side roads. One I explored was called Schoolhouse Rd., 2.5 miles until it dead-ended. A little more technical than Horsepasture, but nothing serious.
There are miles of roads that are 'red gated' (permanently? closed). I ran into a couple of old timers who told me that you used to be able to go all the way to Cashiers, NC on the roads. All of the red gate roads are open for hikers and mountain bikers. The highlight of the trip is Jumping Off Rock. There are great views of the lake and the mountains. This is near the halfway point of the road, depending on where you start. This road continues on for nine miles down to the lake, where there is a boat dock. This road has some rough spots as you are coming back up. There are also a couple of Heritage Preserves on the road, and the Foothills Trails passes through. The pictures I have provided are in order from the time I entered the road from Highway 178. The photos of the lake and mountains don't really translate how good the view is. Even though it was cloudy, it was still awesome.
...If I can make it up to the Musterground area before it closes on January 2, I'll send you that info. The Gorges SP area in NC is open year round, and I can update that the next time I'm there. I will also send you the info on Dupont State Forest area. There are over eighty miles of trails, and a lot are dirt roads. Pinnacle Mountain Rd. is here, and Green River Rd. splits off from this. There is also FR475B north of Brevard. These are all roads I drive on in the summer to escape the heat of SC. I'm sure there are many roads in the SW corner of NC that I haven't found yet.
Additional Pics from the Area:
I owe Randall a big 'Thank You' for taking the time to share so much information. If you, the reader, have any information to add regarding this or any area in the region, shoot me an email.