This past weekend Daylight Savings Time ended and the afternoon sunlight has now dwindled to only a short window after work. If you're like me, and have a day or 2 during the week that you finish work a little earlier, you want to get your bouldering fix without touching any plastic. Little Eastatoee and Beasley Gap are great places for a quick hour long afternoon session if you're near the Jocassee Gorges. Both of these spots have a short approach, Little Eastatoee is less than a minute to the Bridge boulders and Beasley Gap is a fast 5 minutes, and a nice circuit of fun problems to satisfy the afternoon craving. Here are a couple of recommended 10 problem circuits at these spots...if the easy circuit is too easy and the moderate circuit is too hard, then mix the 2 as you make your way around the boulderfields.
Quick Little Eastatoee Circuits:
Kang Solo V0->Super Scooper V0->Dread Scott V1->The Finger V1->One Hit Blunder V0->Sock Puppet Smile V1->Ragdoll V2->Peking Wing Left V2->Just A Little Light V0->Pigface V0
Space Together V4 or Space Feeling V3->Best Feeling V4->West LE Fadeaway V4->Elephant Back V5 or Elephant Back High Start V3->Outta Sight V3->Two-Face V3->Scarecrow V3->Bruce Wayne V3->The Dark Knight V4->Yeti Areti V4
Quick Beasley Gap Circuits:
PBR V0->Bob's Place V2->Hang Loose V0->Beasley Bulge V1->Beasley Bowl V2->Crystal Crymps V2->Old Bolt V0->Lower Beast Traverse V2->Middle Beast V2->Sweatin It V1
Moderate Curcuit (may be one of the best set of 10 problems of any boulderfield in SC):
Bob's Place V2->Eastatoee Trail V2/3->Roadkill Grill V3->Scatterbrains V4->Beasley Gap Traverse V4->Crimpy Sidepull V3->Sassafras V3->Rocky bottom V3->Crystal Crimps V2->Early Bird Direct V3 or Early Bird Special V5
As for the bike rides...this area has plenty of double track loops on gated fire roads for mountain biking, and perfect slightly hilly road bike loops too! Here are a few of my favorites of each.
Mountain Biking...for these loops (at least the last 2), I recommend using a map of the Jocassee Gorges (free at Keowee State Park) and a GPS or bike computer so you know your distances and turn down the wrong trail or road.
1) Little Slickrock Loop 6-7 miles: I suggest parking at the bridge on Highway 11 at the Little Eastatoee boulders, simply to add the heinous uphill (downhill on the way back) on the road to the true trailhead...if you park at the true trailhead instead, the ride is around 4-6 miles, depending on which way you finish the loop. From the parking, turn right (west) onto Highway 11 and pedal about 1 mile up the steep but not too difficult hill. At the top of the hill, look for a small turn in on the left with a red fire hydrant nearby, and turn left into this turn in (this is the true trailhead). Go around the red gate to the left, after turning into the small parking area, and follow this next to the road for 100 yards before turning right into the woods. Soon after this turn into the woods, the road forks with one fork heading uphill to the left and the other staying fairly level to the right...turn right here and start a fun little descent. After approximately 1/2 mile and after a couple of wildlife cuts/openings, turn right onto a downhill, slightly grown over road (if you miss this turn, you'll continue downhill to an area that has been recently logged and is completely open...you've gone too far), and follow this down and around the corner and over an old wooden bridge (if you don't see this bridge within 1/4 mile of turning right off of the main road, then you're on the wrong path). Stay on this road through a slightly swampy area and around to a big loose gravel uphill...try to ride to the top, but you may have to get off and push when it gets steep...to another wildlife opening at the top of the hill. Just past this opening is a short section of slickrock, similar to Big Rock and Cedar Rock at DuPont. Go to the right of the trees at the other side of the slickrock to stay on the trail, and at the next fork just up the hill a little bit, stay to the right. From here, a fun gradual downhill takes you deeper into the woods and winds its way past several roads that branch off of the main road. Continue on this road, following the main road (there's really only 1 more confusing fork that you stay right at instead of heading down a hill) for another mile or so until you come to a clearing with some old equipment and a red gate about 100 yards farther past the clearing. From here, you can either turn around and backtrack to the original trailhead (longest way and most off road miles), or you can go around the gate and turn right onto Highway 133 for about 100 yards before turning right onto Highway 11 and riding back down and up the big hills to your car. As I mentioned, I like to park at Little Eastatoee, ride this loop/lollipop from there and then return to the car where I don't have to drive anywhere else to boulder.
2) Cane Creek Loop: 4 miles with option for more smaller loops
This ride, and the next one, starts at a different trailhead...the Shooting Tree Ridge Trailhead. To get here, turn left from the Little Eastoee Parking are onto Highway 11. Follow this for around 2 miles and turn left onto Roy F Jones Hwy. Follow Roy F Jones for around 2 miles, past the parking for the Big Eastatoee Wall, up the big hill, under the powerlines with the good views and take the next right onto the road the the Vineyards Fire Department is on. At the stop sign at the end of this 1/4 mile road, turn right onto Cleo Chapman Road which drives through the Eastatoee Valley (a beautiful area if you've never visited). After about 1/3 mile, turn left at the obvious sign for Shooting Tree Ridge and the green gate (green gates are open during hunting season and red gates are always closed and just used for fires) and park on the gravel to the side of the gate.
Bike around the green gate, past the very informative kiosk on the left, and continue on this gravel road for 2 miles and a major intersection in the road. Turn left onto Cane Creek Road (there's a sign near the junction) and ride on this road for another 3/4 mile or so to the red gate. Go around the red gate and get ready for some of the most fun steep downhills around! Stay on this road, past all of the other roads that fork off, for another mile or so, up and down some great hills, to another red gate. Go around this red gate and turn left onto Cleo Chapman Road and bike about 1/2 mile back to your car. You can add some fun extra shorter loops by taking any of the dirt roads to the left (there's one at about .3, .35, and .5) off of the main gravel road and you will come out at a different red gate on Cleo Chapman, just make sure you turn left off of the dirt road you choose and then at the red gate, turn left to go back to your car. The first dirt road loop comes out to be about a 1 mile loop and has some fun downhill sections that make it a worthy addition/warm up to any ride. There is also a red gated road to the left around 1.5 miles up the main gravel road, that will connect back near the end of Cane Creek Road for a loop of around 3 miles...using all of these trails and loops, you could easily put together a 10 mile off road ride just within this area.
3) Mill Creek Loop: 10 miles or so
From the parking are at Shooting Tree Ridge described in the previous ride, go around the green gate and stay on the gravel road past the left turn for the Cane Creek Loop. A little before the 5 mile mark on this gravel road, you will come to a huge designated campsite, mainly used by hunters, and a bridge and a ford over/through Cane Creek...go past this and head up the steep hill for another 1/2 mile past a grown over fork to the right to a better used fork with a red gate on the right. Turn right here onto a fun double track and follow it over a mile, down the hillside and eventually to a small stream crossing. Cross the stream and continue following the main double track around to the right and past a left hand fork...in less than 1/2 mile, you'll go around a red gate and onto the end of Mill Creek Road (many times the dogs at the house at the end of the road are barking and sniffing you as you ride by, but they have never tried to bite or threaten me before...the owner is very pleasant and has always tried to keep his dogs up most of the time, so please don't start any trouble if the dogs scare you.) Follow Mill Creek Road for a little over a mile to the stop sign at Cleo Champman and turn right. Bike a little less than a mile back to your car to finish up this great bike ride. This one is much more remote, so make sure you know how to handle yourself if there is an emergency!
Road Bike Loops: I recommend using Little Eastatoee as the start for all of these rides.
1) Eastatoee Creek Loop: 6-7 miles
From the parking area at Little Eastatoee, turn left onto Highway 11, using the bike lane to stay out of traffic. Follow Highway 11 for around 3-4 miles, past Little Eastatoee Road on the right and the nearby first turn for Eastatoee Creek Road on the right and turn right onto the second turn for Eastatoee Creek Road. Stay on Eastatoee Creek Road until it loops back to Highway 11 and turn left onto 11 to start heading back to your car. You can add a 4 mile out and bike on E Preston McDaniel Road (up to Nine Times Road and back), near the end of Eastatoee Creek Road that rides through the Nine Times Tract Nature Preserve owned by the Nature Conservancy.
2) Holly Springs Loop: around 15 miles
From the parking are at Little Eastatoee, turn left onto Highway 11 like you are riding the previous loop. At the first turn for Eastatoee Creek Road, turn right onto the road and then turn right again less the 1/2 mile later onto E Preston McDaniel. Ride through the Nine Times Preserve and past Big Rock (the big rock face) on your left and take a left turn onto Holly Springs School Road at around the 3 mile mark on E Preston. Follow this twisted road for a few miles to its end at Holly Springs Elementary School and turn left onto Highway 178...follow 178 for a couple of miles to the junction with Highway 11 at Holly Springs Grocery and the 4 way stop. Turn left onto Highway 11 and ride about 7 miles back to your car at Little Eastatoee.
3) Eastatoee Valley Loop: around 15 miles
This is my favorite road ride around...From the parking area at Little Eastatoee, Turn left onto Highway 11 and ride for around 4 miles or so just past the Sunset Post Office on the left and take a right onto Sunset Community Road. Follow this slightly hilly road for 2 miles until it comes to a stop sign on highway 178, and turn left onto 178. Ride up 178 for a couple of miles until you get to Bob's Place bar on the left and the end of Cleo Chapman Road...thurn left onto Cleo Chapman and get ready for a fun twisting downhill into the Eastatoee Valley. Stay on Cleo Chapman, through the Valley and past the Shooting Tree Ridge trailhead for the last 2 mountain bike rides, and turn left to go past the Vineyards Fire Department. Immediately past the Fire Department, turn left at the stop sign onto Roy F Jones Highway. Follow Roy F Jones under the powerlines and down the super fast and steep downhill (I've hit over 55 mph going down this on a bike before), over the bridge and past Big Eastatoee and eventually to it's end at the stop sign on Highway 11. Turn right on 11 and bike around 1 1/2 miles back to your car.