Top 5 Family-Friendly Parks and Trails for the Avid (and Not So Avid) Hiker
Greenville is a bustling city, filled to the brim with activities, festivals, and entertainment. The natural beauty has remained in tact, even with all of the constant local development. It’s no wonder so many come, looking for a place to call home. There are many details to look for when searching for residence, and entertainment is important to anyone. The outdoors are an excellent way to pass the time and many tend to forget about what might be just a quick 30 minute drive down the road. There are plenty of options all over the state, but there are a few special locations your family and furry companions can enjoy that are just a short drive away.
1. Table Rock State Park
When asking locals where the best places to go hiking might be, the park that always seems to come up is Table Rock State Park. There are plenty of activities for the whole family to enjoy, including a lovely waterfall at the base of the mountain and lake access. This is the perfect stop for anyone looking to do a bit of kayaking. There are also a few trails that would appeal to the experienced hiker. The first is the Table Rock Trail. This trail is perfect for taking half a day to just enjoy the quiet of the mountains and get in a good workout. Ascending 3.6 miles one way, you will need to bring your best hiking boots to complete this climb. Luckily, on your way up, you’ll come across a few waterfalls and a shelter at the halfway point where you can catch your breath. You’ll also come across some mammoth boulders that you might just have to climb. Once you reach the end of this trail, if the hike hasn’t, the view will definitely take your breath away.
Some other awesome trail at this park are the Pinnacle Mountain Trail (8.4 there and back) and the Ridge Trail. There are also some lighter hiking options that the whole family can enjoy!
2. Paris Mountain State Park
There are plenty of options for outdoor activities that can be found right down the road at Paris Mountain State Park. From kayaking to bird watching, there is no shortage of fun that can be found. If you’re looking for something a little bit more difficult, The Sulfur Springs trail is a 3.6 mile hike that is considered to be strenuous. This trail is also used by many for an intense trail run. There are some lovely views and it definitely comes with a workout. It also intersects with two other trails, allowing you to customize your route. There are plenty of trail options for those who just want to meander through nature without breaking too much of a sweat.
3. Jones Gap State Park
Jones Gap is one of South Carolina’s most cherished parks. There are many reasons why this gorge attracts thousands of visitors each year. This park offers a wide array of activities, including rocks to climb, streams to splash in, and trails to conquer. Caesar’s Head also connects to Jones Gap through the
arduous Pinnacle Pass. You can actually start at either and end up at the other park. This is a hike that will definitely increase your heart rate. Take a few breaks to catch your breath and keep moving, because you don’t want to miss out on any of the sights, including The Caesar’s Head Overlook and the 4.3 mile Rim of the Gap trail. Rainbow Falls, Jones Gap Falls, and Raven Cliff Falls (the tallest waterfall in S.C.) are all options for you to enjoy while you visit. There are also 8 unique trails to choose from. If you want an activity that’s a bit more stationary, Jones Gap State Park also offers birdwatching and creek fishing. The hike might be a bit difficult, but wait awaits at the end is worth the exertion. There is also public access to a suspension bridge, giving you the perfect view of the falls crashing below. If you’re not interested it the hikes or the views, fishing, birdwatching, or picnicking are also some excellent options for passing the time.
4. Croft State Park
With more than 45 miles of trails to explore, it’s easy to see why this park is a local favorite. Not only does Camp Croft have hiking trails, but many of their trails are perfect for horseback riding and mountain biking. Trail difficulty ranges from an easy stroll to an aggressive ascension, but regardless of the path you take, you’ll revel in the natural beauty that can be found throughout the park. If you decide to take a journey down the Palmetto Trail, you’ll also be able to stroll across the Advance America expansion bridge. This 65 ft. long overpass takes you across Fairforest Creek, allowing you to fully enjoy the view. After a long day of hiking, you can set up camp and drop a line in Lake Craig to end the day the right way. Don't forget to check out the skeet shooting range, accessible just outside of the park!
5. Keowee-Toxaway State Park
Located in Sunset, South Carolina, this park is a bit more of a drive. It will take you just under an hour to make it all the way to the Keowee-Toxaway State Park, but this beautiful area is definitely worth the drive. Surrounded by gorgeous, scenic views, everything that you might have been thinking about before you arrived will slowly begin to disappear. Enjoying the view is just one of the many opportunities you have to experience all that this park has to offer. Not only can you take your boat out for a fun-filled day on the water, but you can also take advantage of kayaking and canoeing areas from public access points. If you’re able to take your boat out, you’ll also have access to some hidden gems that are scattered across the park. Hidden waterfalls, rock quarries, and little islands are just some of the perks of this park that you are sure to enjoy.
In addtion, there are also two moderate hiking trails that give you access to part of the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains. One trail boasts a beautiful, natural bridge that allows you to cross over Poe
Creek. Continuing on, you’ll come across Raven Rock Trail, a 4.2 mile hike that finishes with a stunning view of Lake Jocassee. Don’t forget to reserve camp sights so that you can enjoy the area for a bit longer.
Greenville is constantly evolving, drawing more and more people every day and with all of the different options for fun, it’s easy to see why. There are some incredible yearly festivals, great food, and recreation that everyone in the family can enjoy. With a population of 67,000, you’ve got to have what people are looking for and Greenville is full of options for anyone looking for an adventure, no matter how small the mountain.