Monday, August 22, 2016

Hikes and waterfalls in Upstate SC and vicinity

We've seen many lists circulating the internet recently; you know the one, 'See all of the Upstate's waterfalls in 4.57 hours!', or '14 Trails in SC you must take if you love the outdoors!". However, after taking a closer look at over a dozen of these, I've come to several conclusions. First, the writers have never been to our beautiful state, second, many of the mileages and time estimates are wrong, and third, often the pictures don't match the description. I've seen articles urging hikers to visit Peachtree Rock - except it toppled over in 2013. Other pieces suggest visitors they should tackle Paris Mountain SP trail or Caesar's Head SP trail; each of these parks actually has a dozen hikes but the crazy mileages given don't correspond to any of them, and the beautiful views can mostly be seen without going too far from your car. And if you manage to visit all those waterfalls in 4 hours, well you should be driving for Nascar. 

View from Jumping Off Rock in Pickens County

After friends asked where my list is, I decided that I would at least have to put up a summary of the hikes and waterfalls I've already featured on Femme au Foyer. Although it's not a "17.5 Breathtaking vistas of the Upstate" or "83 shimmering waterfalls within walking distance of Pickens" article, it might get you started on your explorations of the Upstate. For simplicity, I've only included estimated mileages and approximate locations in this list - you should do a little bit of research before heading out with just a pocket knife and energy drink.

Falls Park, Greenville's crown jewel

Exposed beech tree roots in Falls Park

The Swamp Rabbit Trail, 21 miles: 
Conestee Nature Park
The Swamp Garden
Swamp Rabbit Cafe & Grocery to Falls Park
Falls Park & Pedrick's Garden
The Falls Park to Cleveland Park
Swamp Rabbit Station
Furman to Traveler's Rest

The Swamp Rabbit trail entering downtown Greenville

Conestee Nature Park:
Racoon Run - a little over 1 mile one way
Heron Circle - loop trail, under 1 mile
Swamp Rabbit Trail

Paris Mountain State Park:
Firetower Trail - utilizing a section of the Sulphur Springs trail (3.5 miles)
Brissy Ridge Trail - 2.4 mile loop
Mountain Lake - there and back to the lake, NOT the entire Mountain Lake trail, under 2 miles there and back

Paris Mountain - dam at Mountain Lake

Pelham Mill Ruins - Greenville, SC (0.2 miles)
Cedar Falls - Fountain Inn, SC (various hiking options)
Horseshoe Falls - Musgrove Mill State Historic Site (0.2 miles)

Caesars Head State Park

South Carolina Botanical Gardens - Clemson, SC (various trail options)
Furman University Lake hike - Furman (1.5 mile loop)
Bunched Arrowhead Heritage Preserve - Traveler's Rest, SC (1.25 mile loop)

Twin Falls

Jumping Off Rock - Pickens County, SC (difficult drive but short hike)
The Narrows in Eastatoe Creek Heritage Preserve - a strenuous, 6 mile hike that might just be my favorite place in the Upstate (Rocky Bottom, SC)
Sassafras Mountain - the highest point in South Carolina! The parking lot is only a few hundred feet from the summit (near Rocky Bottom, SC)
The natural waterslide at Long Shoals Wayside Park - Sunset, SC
Twin Falls - Sunset, SC (1/2 mile in and out)
Bull Sluice on the Chattooga River - a short hike with swimming hole near Long Creek, SC
Oconee Bell Nature Trail - Devil's Fork State Park, Salem SC (1 mile loop)

Oconee Bell

Pleasant Ridge Falls - Marietta, SC (0.6 mile loop or 0.25 mile in and out)
Wildcat Branch Falls - Marietta, SC (1 mile loop or roadside stop to see lower falls)

Falls Creek Falls

Falls Creek Falls - Cleveland, SC (2.6 mile in and out)
Jones Gap Falls - Jones Gap State Park near Cleveland, SC (a little over 2 miles in and out)
Rainbow Falls - Jones Gap State Park near Cleveland, SC (5 mile round trip)

Rainbow Falls

Caesars Head State Park - various hikes, but scenic views @ 0.2 miles
Raven Cliff Falls overlook - (2.2 miles one way) 
Raven Cliff Falls suspension bridge loop - Raven Cliff Falls Trail, Dismal Trail, Naturaland Trail, Gum Gap Trail and back out on Raven Cliff Falls Trail = a rather arduous 8.5 mile loop
Table Rock Trail - 7.2 strenuous hike with scenic view of the reservoir (Table Rock SP) 

View from Bald Rock

Bald Rock Heritage Preserve - Cleveland, SC (roadside attraction, but a steep descent to the base is an option)
Pretty Place - Cleveland, SC (Fred W. Symmes Chapel at YMCA Camp Greenville)

Pretty Place

Issaqueena Falls* - Walhalla, SC (0.2 miles to observation platform, no official trail to base of falls)
Stumphouse Tunnel - Walhalla, SC (0.2 miles)
Yellow Branch Falls - Walhalla, SC (3 miles round trip)

Yellow Branch Falls

Hatcher Garden - Spartanburg, SC (various trail options)

Dreher Island State Recreation Area - Little Mountain, SC (various options)
Congaree National Park - Hopkins, SC (various options)

Congaree NP boardwalk

North Carolina Arboretum - Asheville, NC (various options)
Carl Sandburg Home National Historic Site - Flat Rock, NC (various options)

Glassy Mountain - Flat Rock, NC (around 4 miles, various trail options) (Carl Sandburg NHS)
Bearwallow Mountain - Hendersonville, NC (2 mile round trip)

Bearwallow Mountain summit

Looking Glass Falls - Brevard, NC (Pisgah National Forest, adjacent to parking lot)
Sliding Rock - Brevard, NC (Pisgah National Forest roadside attraction)
The Cradle of Forestry - Pisgah National Forest (various trail options)
Pinnacle Peak - Crowders Mountain State Park in Gaston County, NC (4 mile round trip)

Pinnacle Peak

Fern & Lake Trails - Crowders Mountain State Park (2+ mile loop)
Pearson's Falls - Saluda, NC (less than 1 mile in and out)
Little Bradley Falls - Saluda, NC (2 mile round trip)
3 waterfalls in DuPont State Forest - Cedar Mountain, NC (3 miles total)

Triple Falls, DuPont State Forest

Blue Ridge Parkway:
Balsam Gap to Devil's Courthouse - milepost 443.1 - 422.4 (various hiking options)
Sam Knob - milepost 420 (2.2 mile loop)
Mount Mitchell State Park - milepost 355.4 (various hiking options)
Linville Falls - milepost 316.3 (various hiking options plus campground)
Grandfather Mountain - milepost 305 (various hiking options)
Julian Price Memorial Park - milepost 297 (various hiking and camping options)

Blowing Rock

Blowing Rock - milepost 291.9 (private attraction)
Stone Mountain State Park - milepost 229 (various hiking options)
Cumberland Knob - milepost 217.5 (a scenic, educational stop)

Stone Mountain

Lake Lure NC (various options)
Chimney Rock State Park - NC (various options)
Rocky Broad Riverwalk - Chimney Rock, NC (1/8 mile long)

Chimney Rock & Lake Lure


  1. kas pa sarakstu! un iespaidīgi, ka esiet visus izsirojuši!

  2. What an awesome blog post. I shared it with my hubby --and we will keep it for future reference. We've seen a lot of the waterfalls in your area--but not all. Thanks for posting this.


    1. Thanks Betsy! You've probably seen most of these - the ones I've left off are the ones that take a bit more work to get to, and so are waiting for the kids to grow up a bit. In any case, Upstate SC and western NC are just packed with waterfalls; we've got our work this autumn cut out for us!!

  3. excellent! makes me want to go hiking more than twice a week!


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