Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Spring Hiking in Upstate South Carolina

I spent this past weekend hiking in Upstate South Carolina with my friend Kelli.
We try and plan 2 hiking trips a year and generally one of them falls in the Spring.
When planning our trip, I went to this hiking blog that I have really found useful.
Jeff's list of favorite hikes have been nothing short of fabulous in every way.
This time I chose an area that I have never hiked in the 12-years I've lived in the Carolinas.
I've never chosen this area before, because I like being in the high country and this area is more foothillish.
Even so, I'm here to say that it probably some of the best hiking in BOTH of the Carolinas.
Day one we planned to hike at Jones Gap State Park in Marietta, SC.
We got there right before 11am and were told that the park was at capacity and it would be an hour wait.
I've never had this happen before in all my years of visiting state parks, but apparently there is very little parking and if you don't get there before 10:30am, you're going to have to wait.
So, we headed back south 15-minutes to Table Rock State Park in Pickens, SC.
This park is just as popular but is larger, has a lot more parking, and RV camping unlike Jones Gap.

Our plan was to hike the Table Rock trail that is 6.5 miles long.
But since we didn't get up there until almost 12:30pm we only did half of it.
This trail is not for the light hearted.
Gorgeous, but steep and by that point in the day.
It was 85-degrees and when you're climbing straight up you're going to get sweaty.

Gorgeous water along the way -- then it starts to climb.
This is the view from the halfway point at the CCC shelter.

After our hike we checked into our inn that was directly across the street from the park.
The Laurel Mountain Inn isn't fancy but instead clean, quaint and has a great view of Table Rock!

Of course, we took advantage of the view with wine and cheese!
The next day we got up early in an effort to make sure we didn't get turned away at Jones Gap again.
We were successful.
If you're seriously planning on visiting this park, you HAVE to make sure you go early.
Once there it was obvious why it is so very popular.
The park and all the trails are along the rushing Saluda River.
The park is also known for trout fishing.
Gorgeous visitor and nature center on the property.
We hiked the Jones Gap trail connecting with the Rainbow Falls trail.
Gorgeous beyond belief but VERY steep.
It's 2.5miles up to the waterfall and at times you're wondering if it's going to be worth it.
Well, I'm here to tell you that IT IS!!!
As Brad would say..
'The juice is worth the squeeze'
I believe it's the most beautiful waterfall area I've experienced in BOTH Carolinas.
We chilled on some rocks and took in the falls and the view.

Perfect weekend, awesome trails.
We will be back.
I think the area will be too hot for us to camp this Summer, but only being 2-hours from Charlotte it will be perfect for the Fall.
There are 2 other parks in this same area.
Caesar Head and Paris Mountain.
If you haven't been to this area, you must plan a visit.
Easy drive from Charlotte and it's only 30-minutes outside Greenville so you can stop in their cute downtown for lunch or dinner on the way home.


Allena said...

Oh my gosh - gorgeous!!

Rachel said...

So petty! We need to get out hiking here in The Carolinas! Any good suggestions for a hike with a toddler? Is that even a possibility or just a crazy idea? :)

Rachel said...

Also...PRETTY! Not petty :)

Fran @ Sassy Southern Bride said...

I have the best memories of going to Table Rock on church trips as a child. After reading this, I really want to go again!

donna said...

Wow! So beautiful. I love hiking. As my son says, nature is awesome!

Alayna said...

So glad you have such a good friend who is a nature lover like you (and she likes wine and cheese)!

MCW said...

Looks so beautiful. My hike on Sunday wasn't nearly as beautiful!

Monica said...

Looks so peaceful! Great pics.

starnes family said...

I love your hiking trip reports!

Ashley said...


Sarah O said...

It's been so long since I've been hiking in upstate SC. Thank you for reminding me. It's totally at the top of my list to do again.

Sara said...

So pretty!!! I'm so jealous that y'all have all of these wonderful state parks (and mountains!) to hike around. I need to make a trip to the Carolinas just to hike!! :)