Best Dog Hikes South Carolina  by Melissa Watson

Best Dog Hikes South Carolina

by Melissa Watson (Falcon Guides)
Best Dog Hikes South Carolina  by Melissa Watson
Whether you have one dog, or ten, whether they’re inseparable or independent, they’ll love getting outdoors on the trails of South Carolina. Within these pages I’ve compiled sixty of the best dog hikes in the state. Lakes, rivers, creeks, and waterfalls, from mountain views to the coveted coast—I’ve covered them all. Whether your dogs are experienced hikers or new to the trail, whether you’re looking for an easy stroll or a strenuous trek, there’s a trail for you. And what better way to enjoy the great outdoors than with your best friends, your pampered pups, your canine companions at your side? While you enjoy stunning scenery, flowing waterfalls, and pristine lakes, they get to explore the new sights, scents, and sounds of the forest.

© 2018 Melissa Watson/Falcon Guides. All Rights Reserved.

Trails from the "Best Dog Hikes South Carolina" Guide Book
60 Trail Guides

This rustic hike is one of the longest in this region, and far less traveled. It begins at Buck Hall Recreation Area, on the eastern edge of Francis Marion National Forest. Pine trees and palmettos offer plenty of shade, but there are no swim spots for the dogs. Make sure you bring lots of water so you and the pups can stay hydrated. A light breeze helps keep you cool, and the long-range views are spectacular.
Awendaw, SC - Hiking - Trail Length: 6.6 miles
Vast farmland surrounds Little Pee Dee State Park. Cornfields and cows greet you as you near the Piedmont. Yet amid all this wide open space, you’ll find a lovely patch of forest within the park. Pine trees and oaks are the primary sources of shade on this pleasant stroll. The trail forms a lollipop-style loop, leading you to a peaceful pond where an abundance of birds and frogs serenade you.
Dillon, SC - Hiking - Trail Length: 1.7 miles
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Spanning the eastern edge of this active resort, the trail starts across from the clubhouse and ends near the park’s lodge. Pine trees offer shade, and depending on lake levels, you may pass a pair of swim spots. Although the park is populated, you’ll feel as though you’re deep in the forest. When the lake comes into view, a gentle breeze blows, and you and the dogs enjoy a breath of fresh air.
McCormick, SC - Hiking - Trail Length: 5.0 miles
One hiking trail is found within N. R. Goodale State Park. It’s about half the length of the Canoe/Kayak Trail that dips out into Adams Grist Mill Lake. Massive cypress trees tower over the water, adding an air of mystery to this rather barren park. Using the park map, it looks like you can see the lake from the Nature Trail. In reality, the trailhead is the only place you get a good view. The pathway is well maintained, and wildlife ranges from raccoons to rabbits, and turtles to turkeys.
Camden, SC - Hiking - Trail Length: 1.5 miles
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Following the western shore of Lake Marion, the Santee Bike Trail leads from the park’s Cypress View Campground to a picnic area. The trail is open to mountain bikes, but doesn’t see much traffic, so they shouldn’t interfere with the peaceful hike ahead. If you follow the entire 7.5-mile loop, a good portion is inland. For this reason, I’ve adapted this hike into an out-and-back, with the picnic area as your turn-around point.
Santee, SC - Hiking - Trail Length: 7.0 miles
The Boardwalk Trail gives you the best of both worlds. It begins near the park’s populated swim area. The sandy beach is fantastic for the dogs to cool off before hitting the trail. Near the end of the hike, you’ll find another great swim hole at the base of a man-made spillway. Between the swim spots, the trail crosses a boardwalk out over Lake Juniper. The serenity is unsurpassed.
Cheraw, SC - Hiking - Trail Length: 1.2 miles
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A long boardwalk makes a loop through the floodplain of Congaree National Park. You’ll pass champion cypress trees stretching to the sky, while their knees blanket the ground around them. The forest offers lots of shade, and the cypress trees are joined by maple, oak, holly, and the occasional pine. Birdlife is abundant; bring binoculars. Although the Boardwalk Trail is unblazed, it’s easy to follow. You’ll hike on an elevated boardwalk through the forested wilderness of Congaree National Park. Pick up a map and brochure at the visitor center (VC) to follow along with the numbered posts. The brochure offers a wealth of knowledge on the trees, plants, and area around them.
Gadsden, SC - Hiking - Trail Length: 2.6 miles
Picnic areas, a pond, river frontage, and a fabulous forest make Musgrove Mill a marvelous place to visit—not to mention its deep roots in history. As you follow the British Camp Trail down to the banks of the Enoree River, placards placed along the pathway give you insight into the Revolutionary War battle that commenced here. The river provides spectacular scenery, and the swim holes are unmatched. After the hike, be sure to visit the northern portion of the park. Here, you’ll find a 0.1-mile walkway leads to the small but scenic Horseshoe Falls.
Clinton, SC - Hiking - Trail Length: 1.0 mile
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The perfect amount of well-spaced swim spots, a diverse forest, bird variety, and outstanding views of the lake put this hike among my favorites—not to mention how wonderfully peaceful Chester State Park is. Along the trail, you don’t hear a soul, except when you pass below the park’s campground. At 1.2 miles, the path comes to an abrupt end at a small spillway forming the headwaters of Caney Fork Creek. Water levels dictate how much water flows over or under the smooth cement wall.
Chester, SC - Hiking - Trail Length: 2.4 miles
What a fantastic treat you’re in for as you visit Table Rock State Park. Not only do you get stunning views of the park’s namesake, but you’ll also find a wonderful little waterfall with an open observation deck built at the base. The dogs enjoy taking a dip in the swim hole here before you delve deeper into the forest on this wooded hike. Several cascades greet you, as the trail stays with Carrick Creek early on, and then picks up Green Creek as you return. With all this lively water, it’s easy to see why this is one of my favorites.
Pickens, SC - Hiking - Trail Length: 2.0 miles
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Sporting some of the most stunning scenery in the state, this trail finds itself among my favorites. You’ll come across a variety of wooded topography, which is a pleasant surprise as you follow a contour around the park’s Pinnacle Lake. This one gives you that mountain feel without presenting too much of a challenge. Fantastic views for you, and a few good swim spots for your pups, make this hike ideal year-round: a virtual trail for all seasons.
Pickens, SC - Hiking - Trail Length: 1.9 miles
As you would expect, the Chattooga River Trail follows the Wild and Scenic Chattooga River over the entire length of the hike. Although at times you’ll be standing high above the banks, you’ll never leave its side. Large boulders strewn across the waterway create a canvas of nature that was painted perfectly. With calm sandy beaches for the dogs, and stunning scenery, this hike is among my favorites. Whether you find Ellicott Rock or not, it’s about the journey, not the destination. To enhance the experience, take the tangent trip to see Spoon Auger Falls.
Mountain Rest, SC - Hiking - Trail Length: 6.8 miles
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A number of trails connect with Coldspring Branch, which enables you to make a loop of this wonderfully wooded hike. Tall trees, wildlife, and several creek crossings enhance the experience as you explore the middle portion of the Mountain Bridge Wilderness. You’ll begin by making a long, steady descent, dropping down nearly 1,000 feet of elevation. But remember, what goes down, must come up. So be prepared for a steep climb that will challenge your mettle as you return on the Tom Miller Trail. If the loop is too long, simply alter the distance by hiking out and back.
Cleveland, SC - Hiking - Trail Length: 6.0 miles
This unique hike takes you back in time, exploring the remains of a bustling riverfront town. From tannery to tavern, seamstress to schoolhouse, Dorchester was a thriving 18th-century pre-war town. Walking from one exhibit to the next, follow along with the park’s interpretive brochure. While you educate yourself on colonial history, the dogs enjoy a pleasant stroll in the park. Within easy reach of Charleston, you’ll find the peaceful Colonial Dorchester State Historic Site. The park proudly sits upon the registry of National Historic Places, and as you delve into the details, you’ll see why. Hundreds of years ago, Dorchester was a bustling hub of trade and commerce.
Summerville, SC - Hiking - Trail Length: 0.6 mile
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Poinsett State Park is wonderfully charming, which is surprising for such a sizable park. It encompasses 1,000 acres, but has a delightful, old-fashioned feel. Many of the structures were built by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) in the 1930s, and even the Coquina Trail was cut by their hardworking hands. The trail loosely loops around the park’s lake, bringing you high upon a hillside, and down through a marshy wetland. With this kind of diversity, it’s easily a favorite.
Manning, SC - Hiking - Trail Length: 1.45 miles
As the trail leads you across this battlefield locale, you’ll find you’re standing where a strategic battle once took place, a battle that helped the Patriots turn the tables on the Brits in the South. Although this park is heavily used by locals, there’s a reverent respect, a silence in the air that’s only overshadowed by the sound of the birds chirping in the background. If you close your eyes and use your imagination, you can picture the history that happened here, a history that helped forge the freedom we Americans still enjoy to this day.
Gaffney, SC - Hiking - Trail Length: 1.2 miles
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Although it’s short, this hike offers unique insight into the life and diversity of the park’s cypress swamp. Following along with the brochure for this interpretive trail, you’ll realize how amazing this damp forest truly is. You’ll appreciate long-range views of the peaceful Edisto River and then hike near a stand of mighty cypress trees. Enjoy the shade as the branches and boughs stretch far overhead.
Walterboro, SC - Hiking - Trail Length: 0.4 mile
The first thing you should know about this hike is that the general park map is wrong. Be sure to refer to the park’s trail map, or the map that I’ve provided. The trail makes a double lollipop-style loop, reaching out to both sides of the southern part of the island. Birdlife is abundant, and you may hear the loud honking cry of a heron, or the chirping peeps of a brilliant red cardinal. Other than the sounds of nature, the only thing you may hear along this peaceful hike is a boat buzzing by in the distance.
Winnsboro, SC - Hiking - Trail Length: 2.2 miles
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This lovely interpretive trail begins and ends near the park’s swimming area. The dogs are allowed in the water, just not in the swim area. Grab a brochure from the office and follow along with numbered posts. As you educate yourself on the natural features, you’re also taking a tour of the park. As you loop around the lake, you’ll pass the community building, cabins, and campground. Near the trail’s end, a quaint creek and splendid spillway form the finale.
Blackville, SC - Hiking - Trail Length: 1.3 miles
Although this is a short hike, the prize at the end of the trail makes it a worthy one. Most people visit this trailhead to hike down to Brasstown Falls, a trio of Upper, Middle, and Lower Falls, each with its own unique beauty. Unfortunately, the trail to those falls is simply not safe for dogs. But not to fret. You’ll enjoy a beautiful little creek, and the Falls on Little Brasstown Creek easily rivals the splendor of its downstream siblings.
Westminster, SC - Hiking - Trail Length: 0.4 mile
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Related Regions

State Log Book

Feb 2019
Jan 2019