Wednesday, May 7, 2014

A hike to Mountain Lake

A favorite hike of ours in Paris Mountain State Park is a portion of the Sulphur Springs trail. The complete loop is 3.6 miles, but we opt for the section that takes us to Mountain Lake. When looking for something a bit more challenging than the Lake Placid loop (under 1 mile) but still scenic, this seems to be a good choice. We park in one of two parking areas, either the second of the two Mountainside shelter parking areas (picnic shelter #6), or the turnout just a bit farther up the road that only fits about three cars. The benefit to parking near the shelters (in addition to space for 40 vehicles) is that from that point the hike follows Mountain Lake creek the whole way, although the connector trail is a bit shorter and also scenic.

Mountain Lake waterfall

With our guests a few weeks previously we parked near the picnic shelters and started along the creek. There are many small cascades along this route, providing a pleasant background gurgle to the hike and even picnic spots on the flat rocks along the creek. The very first section has big boulders scattered about, providing some great photo ops as well as climbing adventures for those with shorter legs in our midst.

After crossing the creek twice and passing the old picnic shelter (which serves more as a rest stop on the hike these days) we reached the old pumping station. At one point Mountain Lake was one of Greenville’s water reservoirs, and the old pump house and Mountain Lake Dam serve as a reminder of those days. The waterfall is beautiful, and can be approached from the bottom for a better, if somewhat slippery on some days, view.

The old pumphouse at Mountain Lake

After clambering up alongside the station we stopped to take in the view of Mountain Lake. A couple of fisherman were out on the dam, but we chose to soak in the view from the bench at a strategically placed viewpoint up above. While half of the party took off down the trail a ways (you can read about the rest of Sulphur Springs trail here; it includes the remains of an old fire tower and intersects with several other trails) we relaxed, enjoying spring in the mountains of the Upstate.

The hike back always seems to pass much quicker as it is mostly downhill, but the distance is perfect for the two and three year olds in our hiking party. I estimate there-and-back to be about a mile, with easy-going most of the way. The few creek crossings and the uphill section near the pumping station are the highest in difficulty, and the kids handled these with only a little help. You can find a Paris Mountain State Park trail map here, although I find other online guides to be more helpful at times.

Our morning in Paris Mountain also marked our last adventure with our guests, as they were headed back to Chicago the following day. The boys especially were so happy that they made the detour during their spring break – we love guests in Greenville, especially the DAAAE kind!


  1. Looks like a perfect place to hike --and to take kids.. I'm sure your guests enjoyed it!!!!


    1. Betsy, as you well know there are hundreds of these special spots in the Carolinas - I don't think it is possible to visit them all!


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