Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Tall Pines Wildlife Management Area

Tall Pines Lake island
The South Carolina Department of Natural Resources on Friday announced that 1,757 acres in northern Greenville County are now open to the public as Tall Pines Wildlife Management Area (WMA). $3 million of the total of $4 million needed to preserve the site came from the South Carolina Conservation Bank, with the remainder covered by the SC DNR Heritage Land Trust Fund and timber management funds.

The parking area for Tall Pines WMA is located some 8 miles north of Travelers Rest at 552 Moody Bridge Road, and the gravel lot looks out over Tall Pines Lake, one of the ponds on the property. Braided footpaths along the shoreline are evidence that this is a popular spot for angling; fishing website hookandbullet reports perch, largemouth bass, rainbow trout, crappie and bullhead. In the center of the lake is a small island with a block structure; the small tower is certainly unique, though my research didn’t reveal a purpose other than aesthetic.

Tall Pines Wildlife Management Area parking

For a short ¾ mile loop hike, follow the old road behind the red gate from the corner of the parking area. It climbs a little in elevation, with a view of Table Rock to the west. Once you reach a second red gate at Moody Bridge Road, make a sharp turn and follow the old road south. You’ll hear the frogs before you see the lake, the north end being quite marshy. The road brings you to the point where two lakes connect, and from here it’s just a matter of following the narrow footpaths along the shoreline to return to the parking lot.

View of Table Rock from Tall Pines WMA

In addition to the lakes, Tall Pines also has wetlands, about 600ft of elevation change to the top of Little Mountain, and a mile of frontage on the South Saluda River. From the parking area, cross Moody Bridge Road and follow the old road west to access the river. You’ll see the ruins of a structure down on the creek, and the woods have quite a bit of evidence of past agricultural activity: wire fencing rolls, old machinery, miscellaneous debris. The road emerges to one of several meadows before taking a turn south to follow a second creek upstream. On our recent visit this area was completely flooded (and evidence of beavers abounded) – plan on getting your feet wet if you are going to hike the system of old roads that crisscross the western half of Tall Pines. Or, you can skirt the edge of the field to reach the Saluda.

South Saluda river frontage on Tall Pines WMA

The South Saluda runs parallel to Scenic Highway 11 for some 3 miles, then turns south to tumble through the Class III-IV/V rapids at Blythe Shoals. There is a Naturaland Trust River Access and Parking Area at 25 S. Blythe Shoals Road that serves this stretch of the river, although after passing through the shoals and under Talley Bridge Road the waters calm considerably. The one mile of South Saluda fronting Tall Pines runs quick and clear, high banks complicating access. In addition to the trout lilies and other native species there are plenty of privet, multiflora rose and other invasives, further tangling the banks. The tributary from Tall Pines Lakes empties into the river between the two fields, and the waters continue south, eventually passing west of Greenville and through Piedmont on their way to Lake Murray.

Looking down from Moody Bridge Rd. to creek connecting Tall Pines Lakes and South Saluda

The SC DNR has expressed hope that Twin Pines will become a destination for anglers and paddlers, as well as offering hiking, birdwatching and hunting opportunities; the WMA provides habitat for fish, deer, turkey, quail and small game. There is no formal boat launch at Twin Pines, but the road allows for easy access with canoe and kayak. And while there is no official trail system as of now, the acreage can be explored utilizing the pre-existing system of old roads. Download a map of Tall Pines Wildlife Management Area here: http://www.dnr.sc.gov/news/2019/feb/TallPinesWMAmap2019.pdf.


  1. I'll have to check it out soon! A topo map and an old aerial map both show there should be the ruins of a church and an adjacent graveyard too across the road from the parking area. I'd like see some of that old machinery too.

    1. Can't wait to see what you find! The aerial photos show a structure on the roadbed we hiked up from the parking area - didn't see anything, although there was a large pile of rocks. The west end was pretty flooded, I plan on returning with hip waders!

  2. Nice write up! My wife and I did that same loop yesterday.


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