Birding · Fall Colors · Lake · River/Creek · Spring · Swimming · Views · Waterfall · Wildflowers · Wildlife · Commonly Backpacked
Take Forest Road 365 from Pettit Lake to a small turn off before the road gets rough. From here it is just over a mile to Yellow Belly Lake. Another 0.5 mile along the shore and you'll come to the better parking area at the end of Forest Road 365. Unless you just want the miles and like sage, I would recommend skipping the first 1.75 miles of the trail and just driving the Forest Road 365. WARNING: Some claim that a 4x4 is required to get in there. However, in Aug 2018, we proved that anyone with a little driving skill can safely drive a 2WD Chevy van, a Nissan Altima, and a Saturn Vue all the way in and back out without issue or damage.
Anyway, from the second, better parking area the trail wanders through the woods to Mays Creek Trail #192
that merges in from the right. Almost immediately the trail forks with Pettit Lake Cutoff Trail #041
peeling off to the left. Continue on to the wilderness boundary and get signed in. The trail stays fairly level until you get to the creek crossing that has no bridge. Either head 100 feet upstream to a large log to cross or get those boots off and tenderfoot it across.
Now comes the steady climb all the way to Farley Lake. Be sure to be on the lookout for short side trails that have bonus waterfalls and tiny unnamed lakes to see. Farley Lake is your halfway up mark. There are tons of camping areas along the trail and around the various lakes. Continue gaining altitude and enjoying the various waterfalls and lakes. Halfway from Farley Lake to Toxaway Lake is the junction of Edith Lake Trail #040
that climbs hard to the right from a clearing with a poorly spelled trail sign. After having a good laugh at the blundered sign stay left to continue on to "TOXWAY". Three more small lakes and a final push takes you up into Toxaway Lake! The trail ends where it meets Alice Lake - Redfish Lake Trail #092
just above an excellent camping area complete with sandy beaches below.
Once you arrive at Toxaway Lake, you may want to take a swim out to the island as we did. If you do take the plunge, please be very self-aware and conscience of your hypothermia risks as it is incredibly brisk water and it only gets colder in the middle. We swam as a group and kept close tabs on each other. Even so, it was a while on the island warming up to safely make the return trip.