A small clearing on the trail points to a huge hole in the South Fork of the Mills River. Best on a day when the sky is a Carolina blue, so you can enjoy the big overhead. The trail follows the river closely to the clearing, where a short spur leads to a pool wider than an over-the-road truck. It’s got plenty of life, fish jumping and some otters that make a good living on the heavily used tent area immediately adjacent. However, the pool is flat, with few surrounding rocks of interest. Some modest geology at the top causes a cascade and some at the inside elbow keep the water from eroding the camping platform. Plan on it to be around six feet deep. Very limited sunning space next to the water. Also, water quality is somewhat dark, originating as it does in the Pink Beds, an upland bog.
Don’t be fooled by a pool just one-quarter mile in. There you’ll find a large, triangular rock forcing a bend in the river. Walk past the first campground to the second major spur trail, the pool is almost visible from the trail. Neither should you be suckered by a significant fall five minutes below with a deep hole, but steep, heavily vegetated sides and a poor usability index.
Note: The South Fork of the Mills River Trail is open to hiker’s cyclists and equestrians.