Cherokee Foothills Scenic Highway

1976 –

In addition to the scenic vistas of Table Rock, Hogback, Caesars Head, Glassy, Sassafras, and numerous smaller mountains, the Cherokee Foothills Scenic Highway passes many of the region’s major waterways.

The 112-mile Cherokee Foothills Scenic Highway provides a richly attractive alternative to Interstate 85, with which it links at each end–at the Georgia state line in southern Oconee County and in the city of Gaffney in Cherokee County. In between, the highway rises through the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains in northern Oconee, Pickens, and Greenville Counties and across the rolling terrain of Spartanburg and Cherokee Counties. Yet, the road also provides a vital transportation route for the growing number of residents, industries, and commercial businesses located in the northernmost parts of the state.

In addition to the scenic vistas of Table Rock, Hogback, Caesars Head, Glassy, Sassafras, and numerous smaller mountains, the Cherokee Foothills Scenic Highway passes many of the region’s major waterways. Often called the “freshwater coast,” the area includes Lake Keowee, Lake Hartwell, and Lake Jocassee, as well as the Oolenoy, South Saluda, Middle Saluda, North Saluda, South Pacolet, and North Pacolet Rivers. Many roadside waterfalls are accessible from the highway, including Whitewater Falls, Issaqueena Falls, Raven Cliff, Wildcat Creek Falls, and Blythe Shoals Falls.

The Cherokee Foothills Scenic Highway delivers travelers to numerous recreational opportunities. It passes seven state parks: Lake Hartwell, Oconee, Devil’s Fork, Keowee-Toxaway, Table Rock, Caesars Head, and Jones Gap. Many summer camps also are reached from the highway. The area is culturally rich as the ancestral home of the Cherokees, who called the mountains “the Great Blue Hills of God.” Historic sites such as Cowpens National Battlefield, Oconee Station, Campbell’s Covered Bridge, and the Poinsett Bridge document the white settlers in the region.

The Cherokee Foothills route was designated a Scenic Highway in 1976. It became a National Scenic Byway in 1998, making it eligible for federal money for road improvements, scenic pullovers, and special enhancements.

Morgan, Laura E. “A Visual Analysis, Development Guidelines and Management Plan for the Cherokee Foothills Scenic Highway.” Master’s thesis, Clemson University, 1994.

“33 Roads Selected for Special Designations.” Charleston Post and Courier, June 14, 1998, p. B8.

Citation Information

The following information is provided for citations.

  • Title Cherokee Foothills Scenic Highway
  • Coverage 1976 –
  • Author
  • Keywords scenic vistas, Scenic Highway, Historic sites
  • Website Name South Carolina Encyclopedia
  • Publisher University of South Carolina, Institute for Southern Studies
  • URL
  • Access Date April 13, 2021
  • Original Published Date
  • Date of Last Update August 1, 2017
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