I decided the day after Thanksgiving would be a great day for a hike. This time I ventured out further from my house to a town about an hour and a half away to Lake Greenwood State Park. The South Carolina State Parks website has not been updated and states that there is a .8 mile trail however they recently expanded the trails and there are now about 4 miles of trails taking you around the shore of the lake and through the woods. While not quite the hiker’s paradise the way other state parks nearby are, there are a few other things to do while you are there. Lake Greenwood State Park in Ninety Six, SC is a fisherman’s heaven. They actually have a program where you can rent rods and reels on top of having boat access to Lake Greenwood. They also have 125 paved campsites. It would be a great place to take the boat out for the day, do some swimming or fishing, and camp out with the family!
Unfortunately the day was pretty dreary and very windy so I didn’t really find the trails as beautiful as I know they can be. The lovely Fall colors in the trees were already starting to be closer to brown than colorful. However, I do believe that on a clear Autumn day or on a clear summer day, these trails would be absolutely gorgeous.
The going was very easy and the trails were virtually empty. I do wonder how busy they get during a high traffic day (I have a feeling not many people wanted to get out and go hiking after filling up on turkey the day before – plus it was Black Friday and most people spend the day hiking at Target and Best Buy, not at state parks).
This was my first time hiking solo, so I was grateful that it wasn’t a trail that was too treacherous, however my paranoia definitely was kicking in about mid-way through the hike and I kept checking around me to make sure that I wasn’t being followed by anyone or stalked by any animals. Not sure if there are any bears out there, but I have definitely heard too many stories of solo hikers going across some not so friendly wildlife alone. One thing that definitely made me feel safer, I had excellent cellphone reception on the whole trail (possibly because of the proximity to the campground?).
Despite my weird paranoia, I found solo hiking to be really relaxing. I actually had the time to stop and take photos, which normally I feel stressed about because I don’t want to hold anyone back. Also, it was very quiet except for the sounds of nature which gave me some much needed respite from the sounds of my own and other people’s voices. Some good quality quiet time is always pretty good for the soul. Finally, while this was a pretty easy trail, I am glad that I didn’t have to worry about the difficulty level causing me to be to have to slow down or speed up (depending on who I am hiking with) and I could go at my own comfortable pace. I definitely think more solo hikes are in my future because, all in all, I really enjoyed it!
This past June, I took my cousin who was visiting for the weekend to one of our state parks for a hike. Jones Gap State Park is about 20 minutes from my house and the drive there is beautiful. The park has an entrance fee of $5 for adults and $3 for children aged 6-15 unless you have a wonderful Park Passport like I purchased at the beginning of the year, in which case you just drive right on in. Jones Gap connects to another state park, Caesar’s Head, and you can actually hike between the two of them (but it’s definitely not for the faint of heart). The Middle Saluda River runs through it and there is lots of fishing to be had there. In fact there was actually a fish hatchery exhibit and trout pound when we first entered the park.
There are 60+ miles of trails at the park, but we decided to do the Jones Gap Falls trail which is 5.3 miles one way (10.6 miles total). I decided not to wear hiking boots and just wore some sneakers I run in instead, but by the end of this long hike I was wishing I had worn some boots just for the extra ankle support. I ended up twisting my ankle pretty bad on the way down since I was so exhausted. Note to self: wear boots on hikes longer than 5 miles. We got to see two waterfalls on this trail and were also walking along the river for a good portion of it which really helped to keep the trail feeling cool. There was, however, quite a bit of mud since it had rained the day before and some felled trees that we had to climb through and over.
The Jones Gap Falls were fantastic. There was a nice little pool that had me wishing I had worn a swimsuit especially with the heat in late June. The rest of the hike was just as beautiful and we really enjoyed it. There were even some little bridges to cross and even some hopping across rocks to get to the rest of the trail. We came across a few hikers, but managed to get there at a time when it wasn’t too busy, so it was pretty quiet overall. There are several other trails that were shorter that looked like they were pretty busy that day, especially for people with families and pets.
Overall, I think our hike was a success. We got to see some beautiful falls and some interesting bugs and foliage. We got some really good cardio in for the weekend. And we even managed to get some pretty good pictures, although next time I would really like to take out my DSLR and get some better shots of the scenery there. I am definitely looking forward to trying some of the shorter trails.
This past Sunday was the first sunny weekend day that wasn’t so cold you wanted to hide inside forever in quite a few weeks. I NEEDED to get outside! We had lots of other things to do so I looked for some places nearby that had some shorter hikes that we could do.
We ended up at Table Rock State Park to hike Carrick Creek Trail. This is the loop trail that connects to the other trails at Table Rock. It was a great day for hiking and the trails we’re definitely busy at certain points. There were kids playing in the creek at some points, lots of friendly dogs, and even some people sunbathing on rocks at some points.
The trail is 1.8 miles long and is rated as moderately difficult. It is not just a path through the woods. This path definitely has elevation and there are portions of the path through the creek where you must hop on rocks to get across. I can only imagine if the creek got too full you would have to Wade across. There were a few sections with steps cut into the trail, some were pretty steep especially for the vertically challenged individual (I’m a mighty 5’2″). Some portions of the rail even had some boardwalk-type bridges to cross. It was not so difficult that my out of shape self could not complete it, but I was winded after hiking uphill at some points and if you have issues with balance it would definitely feel challenging. But the challenge is definitely worth it. In those two miles, we encountered beautiful hardwood forests, waterfalls, gurgling creeks with mini rapids, and the most incredible smells of fresh air and nature!
I definitely want to go back to Table Rock to hike the other trails that branch off the Carrick Creek Trail. It took us about an hour to hike this smaller trail and those trails are much longer. I foresee them taking almost the whole day to hike. They are also supposed to be much more challenging, so maybe I want to hold off on them until I’ve built up some stamina.
One thing I was really impressed with at Table stock was how well marked their trails are. I would have felt comfortable even going by myself.
All in all, we really enjoyed our first hike at Table Rock and since it is one of the State Parks closest to our house, I foresee us visiting many more times and checking out those other trails. Table Rock State Park also has a lake for swimming and kayaking which will be nice in the summer as well as cabins, tent, and RV camping options.
Have you ever been to Table Rock before? What was your experience there?
It has been a while since I have kept a blog, but in that time I have moved to a whole new state and find myself wanting to write about my new adventures here.
Almost three years ago I moved from Miami, FL to South Carolina, and that in itself was a huge adventure. Once there, I met a guy and fell in love and we bought a house in the woods and I have felt like I’ve been living in a fairy tale ever since.
Now that we are situated in our new home, we have decided to really explore our surroundings. This past weekend we purchased some South Carolina State Park Passports and we are ready to get our adventure on!
The passport is a yearly fee that you pay so that you can gain entrance into all of the state parks without being charged the entrance fee. It ended up more economical as many of the parks charge $5 per adult and we were going to be paying $10 any time we wanted to go adventuring. Instead I plopped down my $75 happily and they gave us this fancy book with information about all 47 state parks and some of the things to do in them.
Apparently you can get this book stamped at each Park you visit and when you have visited all of the parks, they will send you a free t-shirt. So, or new goal is to try and visit all 47 parks to get our t-shirt, and I want to document our adventures along the way.
Sought Carolina is a beautiful state, and I can’t wait to share some details and photos about some of the amazing places you can visit while you are here. I hope that my posts to come inspire you to get out and go see some of the great outdoors near you.
Interested in getting your own park passport, you can order your very own at any State Park in South Carolina or online here. If you don’t live in South Carolina, I believe that most states have similar programs. Check with the Park Ranger in your parks!