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One Family’s Personal Journey With The March of Dimes: Greenville, SC

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Looking for a way to give back to the community this spring? The March of Dimes Greenville, SC March For Babies event will be coming up at the end of April. Find out about what this organization does and how you can help!

Originally published in 2016, this piece has been updated with information about the 2024 March of Dimes March For Babies event. This year’s events will be on April 26th, 2024 in Greenville, SC and on April 20th, 2024 in Spartanburg, SC

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10 Upstate Hikes That Are Perfect for Teens

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Are you looking for fun or adventurous hiking for teens in Greenville, SC? Here’s our list of great hikes for teens in or near Upstate, SC! Some are challenging and some a bit more relaxed, perfect for a day with friends or family. Plus, there are plenty of trails with gorgeous views that are perfect for the ‘gram. For even more hiking ideas see our list of our favorite local hiking trails.

hiking teens greenville, sc

There are so many great hiking trails in the Greenville area or nearby, it’s truly hard to choose where to go. Luckily, the weather here can lend itself to hiking all year round for the most part, which means lots of weekends to take the teens out on adventures.

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Where to Find the Oconee Bell this Spring

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Have you seen the Oconee Bell? Spring is the perfect time to spot this rare flower. It doesn’t bloom in very many places, but Devils Fork State Park is one of the few places you can see the Oconee Bell.

For even more hiking suggestions see our list of best hikes near Greenville.

The sides of the streambed are blanketed in waxy, red-tinged leaves, small white flowers visible only upon a closer look. Had we not traveled to Devils Fork State Park specifically to see this delicate wildflower, we might have hiked right past the colonies of this rare plant.

About the Oconee Bell

The Oconee Bell is only found in a few locations in the southern Appalachian Mountains, in moist, wooded areas along the streams of Georgia, North, and South Carolina, like Jocassee Gorges. The tiny flowers are one of the first to bloom in the Upstate, and attract quite the crowd to this state park better known for summer swimming and camping.

One of the rangers said “We had a brochure in the holder by the trailhead. Usually, folks finish the trail and put them right back. Last weekend cleaned us right out, there were at least a hundred; I’m going to have to print more.” (This was on our visit last year, right about the middle of the month of March.)

The flower has a very limited range in the wild, and so the appearance of the native wildflower is cause for celebration. Every year Devils Fork SP puts on the Oconee Bell Nature Walk. If you can’t make the ranger-guided walk, you can still see the Oconee Bell blooming; the flower usually blooms from mid-March to early April, and the Oconee Bell Nature Trail takes you along a dozen colonies of this unique wildflower. The park holds Bell Fest every year as well, a festival dedicated to the rare wildflower that also has lots of great local vendors. In 2024, the date is Saturday, March 16th from 10 am – 3 pm. It’s free with park entry.

The Oconee Bell at Devil's Fork State Park

The Oconee Bell Nature Trail

The trail is an easy 1.5-mile loop that takes hikers through the oak-hickory forest, past a small pond full of American toads, and alongside the creek that is home to the elusive wildflower that gives the trail its name. In addition to the Oconee Bell, dozens of other plants and trees are identified by wooden markers, and several small cascades on the creek add to the list of attractions available year-long.

If you’re headed to Devils Fork to hike the Oconee Bell trail you just follow signs to the Ranger Station. A quick stop there for a map or restrooms, and then it’s just a matter of crossing to the other side of the parking lot to the trailhead. The parking lot is on the southeast corner of Lake Jocassee, and the scenic views of the lake, Double Springs Island, and the swimming and picnic area on the southwest shore are stunning.

Bring a picnic to eat on the lake, or upon finishing your hike circle around to Buckeye Drive where you will find picnic shelters and a playground.

In any case, make sure you practice what the Park Naturalist terms “belly botany” – to get an up-close look at the low-lying flowers you’ll have to get close to the ground. There are several locations where the colonies are right on the trail, so it’s relatively easy for all the kids (and adults) in your group to get a good look at the Bell. Remember, for your safety and the protection of the bells, please stay on the trail!

Enjoy the Oconee Bell

Devils Fork State Park
161 Holcombe Circle
Salem, SC 29676
Oconee County
Visit the website Devil’s Fork Oconee Bell Nature Trail.

This post was originally published on Femme au Foyer.

Enjoy your hike, and know that spring is on the way – the Oconee Bell says it’s so!

The Low Down on Long Shoals Wayside Park

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Local mom Andrea Beam reviews Long Shoals Wayside Park, a natural water slide in Pickens, SC. For more local natural swimming areas see our list of Swimming Holes near Greenville. Please remember that swimming in rivers is often “swim at your own risk” and presents unique hazards, such as rocks and strong currents. This is a helpful list of safety advice for swimming in natural settings.

Water Advisory at Long Shoals Wayside Park

Long Shoals remains a popular spot for locals to play in the water. However, for quite some time DHEC has placed a swim advisory at Long Shoals, due to bacteria in the water. This is a long-term advisory similar to the one in place at Falls Park and the Reedy River. According to DHEC, the water is not safe for swimming.

The following article is for information purposes only, because we know the Upstate still looks for information on Long Shoals. We do not recommend ignoring the swimming advisory from DHEC and we remind all parents and guardians to consider safety first.

About Long Shoals Wayside Park

It is no secret that I live to find free/cheap activities to enjoy during the summer.  Well, folks, Long Shoals Wayside Park has landed itself at the top of my favorites list.

I would describe it as the hidden gem of the Upstate. I’ve lived in Greenville my whole life (all twenty-five years) and I had no idea it existed. You and your kids don’t want to miss out on this natural water slide.

Things to Know if You Visit Long Shoals Wayside Park

A long-term DHEC swim advisory is in place.

Carry flops in your bag, but don’t wear them to walk down the hill. It’s a bit steep. Water shoes are the best idea although plenty of people walking around the waterslide and pools with no shoes.

The park is in a hole in the mountain and the sun is brutal. There is little shade on the rocks. Unless you plan on tanning or swimming, you will be hot.  Once the sun moves around, it is much more pleasant.  However, no matter when you go, you will have fun. Don’t forget to pack your sunscreen and plenty to drink. (With that in mind, remember that whatever you carry down the hill has to go back up, and that’s no easy task).  We brought towels, which were handy.

We saw other people with portable chairs, coolers, and even small grills.

There is a Porta John but it’s kind of gross.  If you have boys, you’re good to go because you’re in the woods, but if you have girls, be creative. That is my only complaint. I’m not a fan of portable bathrooms, so we were up a creek. Literally.

We had a great time sliding without floats, but if you’re interested in a faster ride, you’ll want to bring one. Tubes seemed to be the most popular floating device.

I wasn’t too worried about snakes, but I’m sure they are around. It is pretty open and the water is clear enough so you can see where you are swimming and what’s swimming with you.

My own personal preference is to carry a life vest or floaties for younger children.  JP swims pretty well without assistance, but there are a few places, (as you’re sliding), that could potentially land you under a rock. As with any place with rushing water and rocks, be careful where you step since the rocks are deceptively slippery.

There are picnic tables in the wooded area at the top of the hill. We ate our lunch before walking down to the slide. Once you walk down, you won’t want to walk back up until you’re ready to leave.

Unlike traditional water parks, all Long Shoals Wayside Park costs you is the gas it takes to get there. If you’re coming from Greenville, the park is past Table Rock and before Lake Jocassee on Highway 11.

Plan Your Visit to Long Shoals Wayside Park

Just off Scenic HWY 11, Pickens

Have you been? If so, feel free to leave us a comment and let us know your thoughts. Happy sliding!

Meet Andrea Beam
Andrea Beam works for the Greenville County School System, but her passion is writing! Greenville has always been her home. Her family enjoys exploring everything the town has to offer. She blogs at Sunshine & Rain.

25+ Fabulous Things to Do During a Day Trip to Pickens, SC

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If you’ve never spent a day exploring Pickens, SC, you should add it to your bucket list. Pickens County is home to some of the most naturally beautiful locations in South Carolina, including Table Rock and Lake Jocassee. You can also find excellent shopping at the Market at the Mill and local antique shops. There is just so much to do in Pickens, SC! We went on a search for fun in this beautiful area of the Upstate and came back with a long list of things to do on a day trip to Pickens, SC any time of year.

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This Fascinating Historical Site Is Free to Visit in Pickens, SC

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Hagood Mill Historic Site and Folklife Center was built as a grist mill in 1825 by Benjamin Hagood. Today the site is managed by Pickens County Museum and features a grist mill, a working water wheel, historic buildings, and nature trails. It is a beautiful and interesting place to visit, especially if you enjoy stepping back in time and learning what life was like for the people who lived here years ago. Local mom, Kristen Alcock, brings us all the details and helpful hints to make your visit to Hagood Mill a wonderful spring adventure!

Folklife Center

Walking around Hagood Mill, you will see two restored log cabins, a moonshine distillery, blacksmith shop and a cotton gin. Inside the cabins are a giant loom, spinning wheel and other historical items. My son loved watching the cotton gin demonstration and touching the raw cotton. “Our favorite part was seeing the grist mill!” said Christel Price, a KAG reader. “The kids loved seeing it in action and learning how the whole process works.”

Hagood Mill historical site

Nature Trail

The walking trail, through the woods and around historical buildings, is great for hikers of all ages. The trail is unpaved and a little bumpy. It’s short enough for little walkers to manage, and is usually very shady. My family did not walk the entire trail, but Elizabeth Lamb from Hike it Baby Greenville said, “It’s a beautiful 3/4 mile trail with a fun bridge. It’s perfect for young walkers.”

Petroglyph Site

This fascinating archeological site highlights 32 distinct petroglyphs, mostly human forms, and is one of the best petroglyph sites open to the public. Discovered in 1993, it is estimated that the drawings were left by a prehistoric culture 1,500 to 2,000 years ago. The drawings are pretty eroded but the exhibit has a great audio presentation, photographs and explanation of the historical significance of the drawing and the people who left them.

Special Events

My family was lucky enough to visit Hagood Mill during one of their monthly festivals which included banjo and fiddle music, local pottery as well as moonshine, cotton gin and gristmill demonstrations. The once a month events are noted on their calendar. Hagood Mill holds a kid’s fest in the spring, military celebrations and various music festivals.

This video was originally published on The Stinehart’s YouTube channel and showcases the Storytelling Festival.

Other upcoming events include the annual Fiddling Championship and Storytelling Festival. Look for a Native American Celebration in November and a Celtic Christmas in December.

Hagood Mill also occasionally offers some really interesting classes. Past classes include Hearth Cooking, fermenting wild foods, a Sketchbook workshop and a learning how 19th century southerners survived winters on the homestead.

Hagood Mill homeschool lesson

Gift Shop

Shop local at the Hagood Mill gift shop. You can buy products such as jams, honey, and jewelry, pottery and soaps made by local artists. They also have books about local history, t-shirts and CDs. The gift shop also sells cornmeal and stone ground grits made right there at the grist mill!

Planning Your Visit

138 Hagood Mill Road
Pickens, SC 29671
864.898.2936

Hagood Mill, the trails and the petroglyph site are open every week; Wednesday through Saturday, 10 am to 4 pm. Admission is free, however on Saturdays with a festival there is a $5 parking fee.

Festivals are the third Saturday of each month. For a complete list and calendar of events visit their website.

Hagood Mill

We read a book that mentioned mills and what they do before our visit and it helped my son understand what he was seeing. Here are a few books that mention gristmills and petroglyphs:

Books that mention or explain mills, grain, flour, etc:
Pancakes, Pancakes by Eric Carle
Any version of the Little Red Hen
The Grist Mill Secret by Lillie V. Albrecht

Books that describe or mention petroglyphs:
There Was an Old Man Who Painted the Sky by Teri Sloat
Early Humans (DK Eyewitness Book)
Magic Treehouse #7: Sunset of the Sabertooth by Mary Pope Osbourne

Would your kids enjoy visiting Hagood Mill?