It encompasses 33,500 acres and is formally called “The Jim Timmerman Natural Resources Area at Jocassee Gorges” in honor of former Director of SC Department of Natural Resources, Dr. James A. Timmerman, Jr. Informally, you probably know it as Jocassee Gorges.
What we have here is a map that took the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources 10 years to produce. Sounds like a long time, but this was a tough project trying to fit all that lies with the Gorges onto a single, user-friendly map.
Hunters, fisherman, hikers and outdoorsmen of the area are familiar with the Gorges and all it offers, but so many local residents are unaware a magnificent wilderness lies right at their doorsteps. The stated purpose of the map is to serve as an enticement for the uninitiated to visit the area by showing what is there and how to get to it.
On one side of the map you get a topographical rendering of the area overlayed with local access roads and points of interest such as fishing access, scenic overlooks, and waterfalls. On the other side is a copious amount of history and general information on the area along with an 18-stop driving tour of the Gorges.
As an informational lure for new visitors to the Gorges, the map is a winner; however, if you look to the map for other purposes, it may not suit you.
- It appears the overlay is done over the USGS topo map of the area. These topo maps have identifiers and other information on them which is difficult or impossible to read. Map junkies will be a little frustrated trying to make out terrain elevations and feature names.
- Hikers will find only 2 major trails, Foothills and Palmetto, along with a couple of spurs. And no trail information.
- Waterfall enthusiasts have guides pointing to at least 2 dozen waterfalls in the SC Gorges, but only 7 locations are shown on the map and then only 3 are identified. Lower Whitewater Falls is even used on the map cover yet named neither here nor on the map itself.
- Local wilderness buffs will find the 18-stop driving tour a little puzzling. First, a goodly number of the stopping points are actually in North Carolina, outside the range of the map. Then, there is a recommended 1.1 mile hike on Twin Falls Trail when, by driving another 2 miles into the Estatoee Community, you can park in a nature preserve and have a gentle 100 yard walk to the base of the falls.
Having said that, there is one element that is a great success even for those experienced in the Gorges and it is the reason you need to add this map to your resource library. The infrastructure of roads within the wilderness is presented, probably for the first time. Run a comparison of the map against Google Maps and you’ll see many more access roads. Each is named and well documented about its status: Closed, open year round or seasonal.
Another selling point for this map is that it isn’t sold – it is free. You can pick up a copy at the Jocassee Gorges Visitors Center on Highway 11, Table Rock or Devils Fork State Parks, or, in Greenville, the Upstate History Museum.
We need to thank DNR for a glimpse into the Jocassee Gorges that we’ve never had before.