Hiking Trails from Frozen Creek Access Area
On the other side of the park is a 24-hour access area with restrooms, picnic area and longer trails.
Anger Hole Trail is a strenuous 7.25 mile multipurpose trail the bisects the heart of the park and ends on the Foothills Trail. Hikers, mountain bikers and horseback riders are allowed. Hikers will get their feet wet crossing two river fords. Blazed with orange squares.
Cane Brake Trail is a strenuous 5-mile trail that ends at Lake Jocassee and the Foothills Trail. The lake can be seen from the suspension bridge on the Foothills Trail. Camping is permitted at the Cane Brake campsites on Lake Jocassee. Blazed with yellow squares.
The Foothills Trail runs 6.7 miles through the park. This 76-mile runs through North and South Carolina along the Blue Ridge Escarpment. It goes by nearby Whitewater Falls.
Download the Gorges State Park Map.
Mountain biking and horseback riding
Horses and mountain bikes are currently permitted on the Auger Hole Trail from the Frozen Creek Access to Turkey Pen Gap on the western boundary of the park. Hiking is also allowed on the trail. The Frozen Creek Access in Rosman provides a picnic area and trailhead for this multipurpose trail. All visitors with horses must be able to provide proof of a negative equine infectious anemia (Coggins) test while visiting North Carolina State Parks.
Picnic tables make Gorges State Park a pleasant spot for lunch or dinner after an exhilarating hike. In the midst of the forest, picnic tables provide a comfortable setting for a meal or snack. Some of the picnic tables are wheelchair accessible. Gorges State Park is a carry-in / carry-out facility. Recycling containers are located throughout the park
Six primitive campsites at Lake Jocassee with fire rings, picnic tables, lantern hooks, and pit toilets. Located at Grassy Ridge Access at the Ray Fisher Place, Hwy 281 South in Sapphire. Campsites are 2.7 miles down green trail from the parking area. Up to six people per campsite. Six more primitive campsites at Lake Jocassee have fire rings, picnic tables and lantern hooks. Located at Frozen Creek Access on Frozen Creek Road near Rosman, NC. Campsites are 5.5 miles down yellow trail from parking area. Up to six people per campsite. Year-round. Sites are available on a first-come, first-served basis.
Gorges State Park is located in Transylvania County and joins the North Carolina/South Carolina state line. The park is approximately 55 miles southwest of Asheville (1.5 hours driving time). From Asheville, reach the park from I-26, taking exit 40 onto NC 280 and traveling west toward Brevard. Turn west on US 64 and travel toward Sapphire. To reach the Grassy Ridge Access (west side of the park), turn south on NC 281 in Sapphire; the western park entrance is .7 miles on the left. Upper Whitewater Falls is nearby.
October - February, 8 a.m. - 6 p.m.
March 8 a.m. - 8 p.m.
April, May, September, 8 a.m. - 8 p.m.
June - August, 8 a.m. - 9 p.m.
Closed Christmas Day
Park Office Hours
The temporary park office is located on Highway 64 near the NC 281 intersection.
8 a.m. - 11:00 a.m., 1:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m. Monday - Friday
Closed state holidays
Office Phone: (828) 966-9099
Gorges State Park is located along the Blue Ridge Escarpment, an area where five streams carry water to the ocean from the divide between the Tennessee Valley drainage and the Atlantic drainage. The upper reaches of the escarpment mountain streams gradually descend, but near the state line the water plunges over waterfalls and rushes through steep-walled gorges.
With such a rugged and contrasting topography contained within a small area, the park includes 21 of the 44 natural community types known in the mountain regions of North Carolina. Nearly 125 rare plant and animal species that occur in the mountain counties of North Carolina are found in the park, in addition to 12 endangered or threatened plant and animal species.
From the rock outcrops of the peaks, to the high-elevation forests, to the spray cliffs surrounding the waterfalls, to the streams themselves, this ecologically rich region has been identified as being of national ecological significance by the state's Natural Heritage Program.
Several plant species more typical of the tropics thrive where the constant spray from the park's numerous waterfalls and plunging whitewater streams showers the sheer rock walls and talus slopes with mist. Scientists are unsure how these species came to grow so far from the tropics. One theory is that spores blew north from the tropics and settled in the region. Or perhaps the species remained in the region from tens of thousands of years ago when a warmer climate existed in North America.
While few larger plants can establish a hold on the steep, slick rocks surrounding the spray cliffs of the gorges, a rich community of ferns, mosses and liverworts grows in the moist, moderate temperatures of the region. Rare species found clinging to the spray cliffs include Carolina star-moss, characterized by its dark green rosettes. The moss is known in the Dominican Republic and also survives in the southern Appalachians. Pringle's aquatic moss, another rare species, attaches itself to rocks under running water. Pringle's moss is found in Mexico, but in the United States it is solely found in the southern Appalachian escarpment region.
Gorge filmy-fern, Appalachian filmy-fern and dwarf filmy-fern, plants with leaves that are only a single cell thick, are also found in the Gorges. The ferns require constant humidity, which is provided by the continuous spray from the waterfalls.
The gorge filmy-fern grows only in the southern Appalachian gorge region. The gorge bottoms are constantly wet with spray, but the steep slopes leading to the rocky, mountain ridges rapidly drain moisture from the terrain. The land supports oak and pine communities typical of dry mountainous regions, but the high rainfall also supports several rare species.
Abundant species include rhododendron and mountain laurel, along with white pine, hickories and red oak. Oconee bells — also known as shortia — are rare flowering plants that also occupy some of the same territory. The plant is most abundant in the gorges region of North Carolina, and because so few populations of the plant are known, Oconee bells are considered to be an endangered species. The plant has single-stalked, white flowers, which stand above the evergreen leaves that form low patches along Escarpment streams.
While the popular animal species of the region include black bear, wild turkey, fox, coyote, wild boar and deer, as well as a variety of squirrels, North Carolina's largest known population of green salamander occurs in the gorges. This secretive salamander hides in the damp, shaded crevices of cliff faces.
The forests of the gorges also provide abundant habitat for neotropical migratory birds, including the largest North Carolina mountain populations of Swainson's warbler. Three fish species — turquoise darter, redeye bass and rosyface chub — have their only North Carolina populations in the park's rivers that are part of the Savannah River drainage. In addition, the nearby Horsepasture River is both a designated federal Wild and Scenic River and state Natural and Scenic River.
On April 29, 1999, 10,000 acres of the Jocassee Gorges in Transylvania County were placed in public ownership to be preserved. The property was purchased by the state from Duke Energy Corporation, and the transaction created a 2,900-acre gameland managed by the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission. Currently, Gorges encompasses nearly 7,500 acres and is the only state park west of Asheville.