S.C.-N.C. agreement ends longstanding dispute
A remote Upstate mountain peninsula that sparked a border dispute between the Carolinas will be easier to reach now that the three-year-old disagreement has been resolved.
Visitors can drive to Crossroads Mountain in South Carolina by traveling through Gorges State Park in North Carolina.
Crossroads is part of South Carolina's more than 30,000-acre Jocassee Gorges nature preserve, but until recently, was accessible only by boat or foot. The mountain land juts into South Carolina's Lake Jocassee, and its only access by road is through North Carolina.
John Frampton, director of the S.C. Department of Natural Resources, said he's glad the issue has finally been settled. The agreement resolves a dispute over which access road could be used through Gorges State Park to reach South Carolina's preserve.
"It's very unfortunate that we don't have access to that tract of land through South Carolina, but this was a good solution," Frampton said, noting that both states "had to come to consensus to get this done."
The agreement had been in the works for about a year. James Ledgerwood, a ranger at Gorges State Park in North Carolina, confirmed the deal had been finalized recently.
"We are happy to give them access," Ledgerwood said.
People interested in seeing the property have already been calling Jocassee Gorges refuge manager Mark Hall. "My phone has been ringing off the hook," he said.
Crossroads Mountain rises about 1,500 feet above Lake Jocassee. Although heavily wooded, visitors can find spots through the trees to view the sparkling lake. Lake Jocassee covers a valley where Native Americans and early settlers once kept livestock.
The forested mountain has unusual pine trees, clear-running creeks and abundant wildlife, including black bears. South Carolina officials have established primitive campsites there. Crossroads Mountain includes several old logging roads that the Natural Resources department says are good for hiking.
Like the Jocassee Gorges in South Carolina, North Carolina's Gorges State Park is a 7,100-acre preserve that's full of scenic views. It has 14 waterfalls and harbors that state's largest population of green salamanders.
The dispute between the states involved an easement South Carolina claimed it had been granted when both states acquired tens of thousands of acres of mountain land from Duke Energy Co. in the late 1990s.
South Carolina claimed it had been given a legal right to use a North Carolina road through what later became Gorges State Park to reach Crossroads Mountain.
But Palmetto State officials wanted to swap the rugged access road for another access road, known as the Auger Hole Trail, that they said was an easier drive. North Carolina officials balked, saying that would allow vehicles to ford two ecologically important mountain streams: the Toxaway River and Bear Wallow Creek.
Ultimately, the two states agreed on the access road South Carolina claimed a right to. The road, known as Chestnut Mountain Road, is off N.C. 281.
To reach the road to Crossroads Mountain, visitors should enter Gorges State Park and travel down Grassy Ridge Road to Chestnut Mountain Road.
Chestnut Mountain Road is a steep, unpaved trail that park officials say is more suitable for four-wheel drive vehicles.
Anyone wanting to visit Crossroads Mountain after daylight hours can get an access code at the Gorges State Park office. Sportsmen wanting to hunt in Jocassee, which is allowed, can bring their weapons through Gorges State Park, but guns must not be loaded while driving through North Carolina, officials say.
For more information, contact Gorges State Park at (828) 966-9099 or the Jocassee Gorges field office at (864) 878-9071.