Five-Star Trails South Carolina Upstate  by Sherry Jackson

Five-Star Trails: South Carolina Upstate Guide Book

by Sherry Jackson (Menasha Ridge Press)
Five-Star Trails South Carolina Upstate  by Sherry Jackson
The South Carolina Upcountry is gaining more popularity and people visiting will need to know how to discover all it has to offer. Outdoor activities here abound and there are a good variety of trails for hikers of all levels. From waterfalls to amazing mountain views, each trail offers hikers an incredible experience. Since the Upcountry is relatively “undiscovered”, there are very few books that have a true compilation of hikes in the area. Five-Star Trails: South Carolina Upstate will bring together those hiking trails that offer a “five star” experience. Each trail has been thoroughly researched, recently hiked and includes a detailed description, trail profiles and map. At a glance ratings in important categories such as Scenery, Trail Condition, Difficulty, Solitude and appropriateness for children let you quickly select a trail that fits your tastes and ability.

© Sherry Jackson/Menasha Ridge Press. All Rights Reserved.

Trails from the "Five-Star Trails: South Carolina Upstate" Guide Book
Displaying trails 20 of 30.

Displaying trails 1 to 20 of 30.

As you enter through the electric-fenced gate, you get a feeling that you’re trespassing into some top-secret facility. That’s somewhat true. Duke Energy owns this site, and it’s home to their largest hydroelectric station. That installation includes Lake Jocassee’s 7,500 acres, another 375-acre upper reservoir, and an underground tunnel system and powerhouse. Thus, security is warranted, but they also keep the grounds free and open to the public year-round. Bad Creek also serves as a trailhead for the 80-mile-long Foothills Trail and provides access to the Whitewater River, one of South Carolina’s best trout streams.
Lake Jocassee, SC - Hiking - Trail Length: 5.4
If you’re feeling adventurous, the Blue Ridge Railroad Trail at Issaqueena Falls is one of the lesser-trekked trails in Oconee County. Even though the trail is marked by a small sign and yellow trail blazes near the Issaqueena Falls overlook, few hikers follow the path. The trail winds along an incomplete rail bed and passes abandoned tunnels that were to be part of the railroad. Be prepared with bug spray, as some of the trail is overgrown and spiders and ticks are prevalent.
Oconee County, SC - Hiking - Trail Length: 4.6
Blue Wall Passage is part of the Palmetto Trail, a 425-mile project that, when completed, will be South Carolina’s largest bicycle and pedestrian trail system. The Palmetto Trail features primitive pathways along mountaintops, forests, and some rail-to-trail conversions. The Blue Wall Passage, named for its drastic and sudden 3,000-foot shift in elevation, forming an abrupt “blue wall,” is at the easternmost portion of the Blue Ridge Escarpment and provides captivating views of the surrounding mountains, lakes, and a waterfall.
Cleveland, SC - Hiking - Trail Length: 3.2
Caesars Head is one of South Carolina’s most famous natural landmarks, with sweeping views of the surrounding mountains. Th e Raven Cliff Falls Trail is part of the 10,000-acre Mountain Bridge Wilderness trail system and Foothills Trail, and is one of the most popular hikes at Caesars Head. Th e moderately diffi cult trail leads to an overlook where you can view the 420-foot Raven Cliff Falls in the distance.
Cedar Mountain, NC - Hiking - Trail Length: 4
The shoals at Cedar Falls were used to power local mills and in the 1820s to generate electrical power. Today it’s a little-known local swimming hole with cascading waterfalls dumping into numerous pools. That’s about to change though, as the park receives a $2.7 million makeover thanks to funds left over from the cleanup of a 1996 oil spill, the largest ever in South Carolina, which dumped more than a million gallons of diesel fuel into the Reedy River. Cedar Falls is maintained by the Greenville County Recreation District and will include canoe launches, picnic shelters, and a fishing pier.
Princeton, SC - Hiking - Trail Length: 1.9
This park is considered one of Oconee County’s best-kept secrets. It’s so hidden away in Westminster that even some locals don’t know the park exists. This little gem offers waterfalls; sandy beaches with water access for swimming; and four major sets of rapids for kayaking, canoeing, and tubing. Just off the parking lot is the 40-foot Ramsey Falls. There are several other waterfalls downstream, and the park features the longest suspension bridge in Oconee County.
Westminster, SC - Hiking - Trail Length: 1.8
This is really more of a walk than a hike, but the historical value makes it a definite inclusion for our five-star trails. Even though the Battle of Cowpens lasted less than an hour, it was the most significant turning point in the Revolutionary War, leading to the Patriots’ victory at Yorktown. On January 17, 1781, General Daniel Morgan led his outnumbered troops against British soldiers and won. There are interpretive signs along the trail explaining the important events that took place at this former cattle pasture (hence the name Cowpens). Bring the whole family on this historically significant trail.
Greenville, SC - Hiking - Trail Length: 1.2
Located a few miles from downtown Spartanburg, Croft State Park is best known for its equestrian facilities, which boast an arena, on-site horse stalls, and more than 20 miles of equestrian trails. But, this former Army training base also has more than 12 miles of hiking and biking trails, and the nature trail with interpretive signs is a great place to take the kids. Be sure to stay on the trails though and not to disturb unfamiliar objects on the off chance that the former infantry camp left something behind.
Pauline, SC - Hiking - Trail Length: 1.9
Encompassed by the Jocassee Gorges, Lake Jocassee is one of the most pristine and clear lakes in the Upstate of South Carolina. Fed by mountain springs, the lake offers great trout fishing and is a haven for scuba divers. The land around the 7,500-acre lake remains mostly undeveloped, and the only public access is at Devils Fork State Park. The Bear Cove Trail leads hikers along lakeside coves and through a hardwood forest, and offers amazing views of Lake Jocassee. This is a nice and easy hike where kids and dogs can tag along.
Lake Jocassee, SC - Hiking - Trail Length: 2.2
The Eastatoe Heritage Preserve is located within the Jocassee Gorges, which was named by National Geographic as one of “50 of the World’s Last Great Places.” Jocassee, meaning “place of the lost one” according to the American Indians, was home to several Indian tribes, including the Eastatoe. The 43,000-acre natural area is home to amazing waterfalls and diverse plant life. The Eastatoe Heritage Preserve covers 374 acres, features dramatic rock cliffs and a rainbow trout stream, and is home to three rare ferns.
Sassafras Mountain, SC - Hiking - Trail Length: 6.2
Edwin M. Griffin Nature Preserve was the Spartanburg Area Conservancy (SPACE) program’s first project. This 115-acre urban preserve and trail system is located just minutes from downtown Spartanburg and follows along Lawson’s Fork Creek. The preserve serves as an important water quality buffer and offers a habitat for squirrels, deer, raccoons, and many other animals. Signage along the trails identifies some of the 50-plus tree species, and a 500-foot boardwalk and observation deck allow visitors to observe the wetlands area.
Pauline, SC - Hiking - Trail Length: 4.2
This is part of the 11,000-acre Mountain Bridge Wilderness Area, named for the two watersheds that are within its boundaries. Mountain Bridge is considered the best hiking destination in South Carolina, as it contains the most extensive trail system in the state. Don’t let the short distance of this hike fool you—this is one grueling hike. The almost 600 feet in elevation change is signifi cant, and at times you will be climbing up tree roots. But the 100-foot waterfall at the end is spectacular, and the mountain views as you climb make it all worthwhile.
Cleveland, SC - Hiking - Trail Length: 2.4
With more than 30 miles of trails at Jones Gap State Park, there are a lot of choices. This hike covers a pleasant, moderately strenuous trail that traverses boulders, passes several streams, and follows alongside the Saluda River. A toll road built in the 1840s and in use until 1910, the path followed the Middle Saluda River downstream. Now riddled with boulders, the trail looks more like an old creek bed than a road— and thus makes for an interesting journey.
Cedar Mountain, NC - Hiking - Trail Length: 3.2
Part of the 11,000-acre Mountain Bridge Wilderness Area, Jones Gap is a peaceful yet popular area due to five waterfalls and numerous trails located in the park. Rainbow Falls has been a favorite hiking destination for years, especially with campers from the nearby YMCA Camp Greenville. There’s even an alternate route to the falls accessed through the campgrounds. Don’t let the short distance on this hike fool you. It’s a very steep elevation change, and you will be crawling over boulders. But it’s definitely worth it—the waterfall is the best in South Carolina.
Cedar Mountain, NC - Hiking - Trail Length: 5
Keowee-Toxaway State Park is considered the gateway to the 43,000-acre Jocassee Gorges, named by National Geographic as one of “50 of the World’s Last Great Places.” Jocassee Gorges is known for its amazing waterfalls and diverse plant life (including more than 60 species of rare or endangered plants). The trail offers amazing views of and access to Lake Keowee, and traverses land that the Cherokee once inhabited. Views of the Blue Ridge Mountains are stunning, and in springtime, wildflowers line the trail.
Lake Jocassee, SC - Hiking - Trail Length: 4.7
You get two parks in one at Kings Mountain: Kings Mountain National Military Park, which has a museum and visitor center and is home to the actual battlefield site; and the adjacent Kings Mountain State Park, which has two lakes, camping and equestrian facilities, and a living history farm. As the first major patriot victory, the Battle of Kings Mountain, which took place October 7, 1780, was considered a major turning point in the Revolutionary War. Thomas Jefferson called it “the turn of the tide of success,” and while hiking in the park, it’s easy to picture yourself as a Revolutionary soldier, getting ready for the battle.
Spartanburg, SC - Hiking - Trail Length: 6.6
Head here for an ideal outdoor stretch on Sunday afternoons or for an after-work summertime escape. Smack in the middle of the city, the trail makes for an easy trek that feels secluded even if you happen to meet up with others along the way on this well-maintained route. You’ll traverse two loops, cross a pedestrian bridge over the Reedy River, and enjoy great views of the wetland areas. Birding aficionados will appreciate the observation decks complete with signs and pictures of birds that flock to this area, so bring the binoculars and cameras.
Mauldin, SC - Hiking - Trail Length: 1.1
Sometimes a walk instead of a grueling hike is in order, especially if small kids are in tow. This level, paved trail is a perfect outing, and actually walking on top of the Hartwell Dam is just not something you can do anywhere else. Hartwell Lake and Dam covers about 80,000 acres (both land and water) and was named for Nancy Hart, a renowned patriot famous for her heroic efforts during the Revolutionary War. This site is one of the most visited United States Army Corp of Engineers lakes in the United States.
Hartwell Reservoir, SC - Hiking - Trail Length: 1.5
These are two distinctively different trails but can easily be done in the same day. British Camp Trail is a 1-mile leisurely hike that winds along the Enoree River. It offers views of where the old Musgrove mill and homesite used to be (unfortunately they washed away in 1852). The Battlefield Trail at Horseshoe Falls is about 1.3 miles and is a little more challenging but takes you along an ancient gully and features the Revolutionary War site of the battle of Musgrove Mill.
Clarkesville, GA - Hiking - Trail Length: 2.3
This is Pickens County’s newest trail, and it is a bird lover’s paradise. More than 110 species of birds have been logged in this 560-acre preserve since the new trail opened in mid-2012. The area is also considered one of the most biologically significant areas in the southeast, with 134 species of native wildflowers, 130 different trees, and seven distinct forest types, and it is home to black bears, turkeys, and peregrine falcons. The trail leads along old logging roads.
Lake Jocassee, SC - Hiking - Trail Length: 4