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October 29, 2009

South Carolina, North Carolina strike deal on Jocassee Gorges access

The two sister Carolina states have finally struck a deal over access to Crossroads Mountain, a remote section of the Jocassee Gorges in northern Oconee County.

"Crossroads will still be the most difficult place to reach in our state," said Mark Hall, Jocassee Gorges project manager for the S.C. Department of Natural Resources (DNR), "but at least folks can get there reasonably and enjoy it, as it is such a special place." Crossroads Mountain lies between the Toxaway and Horsepasture rivers along the northernmost reaches in South Carolina near the state line with North Carolina.

A free code is available for access to the Crossroads Mountain area. To obtain a code that is good 24 hours a day, 365 days a year:

1) Stop at the Gorges State Park office in Sapphire, N.C., and provide phone number and driver’sJocassee map license number.

2) E-mail Gorges State Park at susan.chappell@ncdenr.gov and provide phone number and driver’s license number.

3) Call Gorges State Park at (828) 966-9099 and provide phone number and driver’s license number.

4) Call the Jocassee Gorges field office at (864) 878-9071 or the Clemson DNR office at (864) 654-1671, Monday through Friday between 8:30 a.m. and 5 p.m.

For the past several years, a legal technicality prevented use of the access route that winds through Gorges State Park in North Carolina. Duke Energy, South Carolina DNR and the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources developed a cooperative agreement that will allow patrons of the South Carolina side of Jocassee Gorges to gain reasonable vehicular access through North Carolina’s Gorges State Park to get to Crossroad Mountain.

Year-round access is now allowed via Chestnut Mountain Road in North Carolina, beginning Sept. 15. Chestnut Mountain Road begins at N.C. Highway 281 near Toxaway. Chestnut Mountain Road passes through North Carolina’s Gorges State Park, and users will pass through a key-coded gate.

"Anyone who wishes to venture into the wilds of the Crossroads Mountain Area should use a vehicle with plenty of clearance and preferably four-wheel drive," said Hall. "It is a rough area with steep grades, and the drive can easily take an hour or more." Crossroads Mountain has two small camping sites that are first-come, first-serve. It also has several old logging roads that are perfect for hiking, hunting, mountain biking, sightseeing or fishing on Lake Jocassee. A trip into Crossroads Mountain requires the dedication of at least a good six or eight hours, Hall said.

Users are urged to strictly follow the rules of the North Carolina State Parks system while passing through Gorges State Park. "Respect for others and our natural resources is the key that will allow this agreement to remain a win-win situation for everyone involved," Hall said.

South Carolina's natural resources are essential for economic development and contribute nearly $30 billion and 230,000 jobs to the state's economy. Find out why Life's Better Outdoors.


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