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Burrells Ford Campground: No Reservations Needed at This Remote Campground Near Scenic Waterfalls

Looking for a campground that doesn’t require reservations months ahead? The Burrells Ford area is a great home base for a weekend of adventure, and KAG contributor Liene has all the details. You’ll find waterfalls, hiking, and an excellent campground at Burrells Ford Campground!

Camp fire at Burrells Ford Campground

Burrells Ford Campground: A convenient location and interesting background

Despite being in a remote corner of the state, Burrells Ford remains a crossroads: historical and natural. The old wagon road (and later logging road) that forded the Chattooga was replaced with gravel Forest Service Road 708 (FS 708 or Burrells Ford Road) in 1968, allowing access to the section of the state bordering Georgia and North Carolina. Here the Foothills Trail intersects with the Chattooga Trail and East Fork Trail. Ellicott Rock Wilderness overlaps the Wild & Scenic Chattooga River corridor.

Spur trails to Burrells Ford and Spoonauger Falls depart from multiple trailheads. And three National Forests – the Chattahoochee-Oconee, Nantahala, and Andrew Pickens ranger district of Sumter National Forest – converge to form one giant natural area.

But the region remains wild. Isolated, winding mountain roads require 1 ½ hours driving time to reach the campground from Greenville, including the last 3 miles on gravel Burrells Ford Road. At one point those wishing to camp at the Burrells Ford campground could drive right to their campsite, but all that changed when the Chattooga River received the “Wild & Scenic” designation in 1974.

Now parking is in a lot just off the gravel road, and requires a ½ mile hike down the old road bed to reach the campground.

How to Find the Campground and Nearby Trails

The confluence of trails can provide some confusion, and the mileages can be hard to pin down. There are two parking areas: one for the campground, and a second closer to the Chattooga on the edge of Ellicott Rock Wilderness. The Chattooga Trail (blazed green) stays along the river through the campground and emerges at this second parking area, while the Foothills Trail (blazed white) curves away from the river south of the campground and emerges adjacent to the campground parking area.

There are several connector trails from the Foothills Trail to the Chattooga Trail, as well as additional spur trails to the waterfalls. Add in to that East Fork Trail leading to the only other road in this corner of the state (Fish Hatchery Road), and a not-very-accurate map posted at the trailheads, and you have an idea of why you need to come prepared with a good map if you’re planning on doing any hiking.

We used National Geographic’s Sumter National Forest map on our Chattooga Trail hike, but later I utilized a Forest Service map to make a more detailed version of the campground area, as seen here.

Map of Burrells Ford area in South Carolina
Map of Burrells Ford campground area, as adapted from USFS map.

About The Burrells Ford Campground

Close enough to Greenville that you would still have daylight to set up camp after a Friday evening arrival, or you could pitch camp Saturday and then spend the day exploring. Just make sure to park at the first parking area (for the campground), and then follow the road down to where you’ll have your pick of tent sites.

You’ve got bear-proof trash receptacles near the restrooms (in reality pit toilets, but luxurious compared to the alternative), and picnic tables, lantern posts, fire rings & bear poles in each campground. Some of the sites are right along the Chattooga, while others are scattered through the woods.

Remember to pack appropriately, as your return trip will be all uphill. The walk in possibly deters a portion of the car campers, and the campsites cannot be reserved ahead of time; plan accordingly.

Ellicott Rock in South Carolina
Ellicott Rock

Things to do Near Burrells Ford Campground

Hiking

From the campground take a hike to Ellicott Rock Wilderness following the Chattooga Trail; Ellicott Rock is about 4 miles north (one way), but scenic Spoonauger Falls is less than a mile. Or, head south on the Chattooga/Foothills Trail, destination Oconee State Park (16.4 miles), Ridley Fields (11.8 miles), the Bartram Trail junction (8.1 miles) or Cherry Hill campground (about 10 miles). Of course, you could just go ahead and hike the rest of the Foothills Trail – 59.8 miles to Table Rock State Park!

Chattooga River

Fishing

Burrells Ford is the gateway to some of the most premium trout water in the Southeast. The SC DNR stocks the river with rainbow, brown, and native brook trout grown nearby at the Fish Hatchery. The river is easily accessed from Chattooga Trail & most of the campsites, and even in October the boys were happy to get their feet wet.

Spoonauger Falls

Waterfalls

The high point of a stop at Burrells Ford is the proximity to two of the most picturesque waterfalls in South Carolina, King Creek Falls and Spoonauger Falls. King Creek Falls is just west of the campground, and is a 70-foot, tiered waterfall that is less than a mile, roundtrip (about 1.4 there and back if you’re starting at the campground parking area). Spoonauger Falls is a 50-foot beauty, a short hike up a series of switchbacks from the Chattooga Trail.

King Creek Falls in South Carolina
King Creek Falls

This post was originally published on the blog Femme au Foyer.

The 2024 SC7 Expedition: Hike Through South Carolina

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The SC7 Expedition is once again exploring the state from the mountains to the sea, this year in April and May 2024! The name South Carolina 7 represents seven natural wonders in our state, including National Geographic-recognized ecological areas and historical sites such as the Jocassee Gorges, Sassafras Mountain, and the Chattooga River.

Kidding Around covered this epic month-long event in 2021; you can find everything about that year’s route in our article South Carolina’s Top 30 Beautiful Natural Spots! This year the team is following a similar path across the state, with a few new locations – including several in the Upstate.

The SC7 expedition across South Carolina
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Foothills Trail Guide: Great Family Day Hikes, Backpacking, and More

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Waterfalls, wilderness areas, wildflowers and epic views… No, we’re not talking about a national park somewhere out west, but our very own Foothills Trail! Backpacker magazine rated it as “one of the best long trails (fifty-plus miles) in the country,” and it traverses the Jocassee Gorges, which National Geographic named one of “50 of the World’s Last Great Places—Destinations of a Lifetime”… this isn’t just any walk in the park! Well-suited for a through-hike for families looking for a challenge, yet accessible even for the shortest day-trip ramble, the Foothills Trail is rapidly gaining notoriety as one of the premier trails in the southeast.

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Heading Outdoors? Practice “Leave No Trace” With These Dos and Don’ts

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Have you heard about Leave No Trace? Aimed at minimizing human impact on nature, the seven principles of Leave No Trace give us some concrete habits to incorporate into our time outdoors. KAG contributor, Liene, has some specific do’s and don’ts so that families can “Leave No Trace” when they adventure outdoors.

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300 Acres are Waiting for You at the SC Botanical Gardens

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Forty-five minutes west of Greenville is Clemson, home not only to Clemson University but also to the South Carolina Botanical Garden, a perfect day-trip destination this spring. The colorful spring foliage and cool temperatures will ensure a memorable visit to one of the premiere Gardens of the Upstate! KAG Contributor, Liene, shares all about this beautiful (and free!) destination.

See our list of gardens near Greenville for even more beautiful outdoor areas to explore.

At just under 300 acres in size, the South Carolina Botanical Gardens encompass everything from natural landscapes to display gardens, including miles of streams, nature trails and the 70-acre Schoenike Arboretum. Home to over 300 varieties of camellias, the Gardens also have an extensive collection of hollies, hydrangeas, magnolias and native plants. Although there are multiple points of access, parking in the lot off Pearman Blvd. closest to the Heritage Garden will put you in the center of this gorgeous botanical treasure.

children's garden at clemson botanical gardens

Cadet Life Garden

Upon entering visitors will find themselves in is the Cadet Life Garden, a nod to the period in Clemson history during which the University was a military college. Over those sixty years (until 1956), 12,314 students graduated; of those nearly 10,000 became Reserve Officers, about 5,600 saw active military service, and 335 died or were missing in action while fighting for their country. (Source: informational plaques in the Garden).

Caboose Garden

After trying out one of the swings, follow the shaded pergola to the 1939 Caboose Garden. George Williams, Assistant Vice President and Treasurer of Southern Railway (as well as a graduate of the class of ’39) donated the caboose to Clemson, after which it was painted red, transported to its current spot, making a perfect playground (and photo op!) for those budding train enthusiasts.

Also, see our list of places to find trains near Greenville for more locations for kids that like trains.

clemson botanical gardens with kids

Children’s Garden

After a meander in the Heritage Garden you’ll emerge near the Children’s Garden. With greenhouses, a “Food for Thought” Garden and several other interesting spaces, the kids will find plenty to explore. The Peter Rabbit Garden features a cute little playhouse, perfect for an imaginary afternoon tea.

Butterfly Garden

Adjacent is the butterfly garden, where you will find quite a few different species of butterflies fluttering about, attracted to the early spring blooms. The bog section has really cool pitcher plants; let the kids check to see if they are digesting any insects!

Duck Pond & Camellia Trail

A loop around Duck Pond on a nice wooded trail takes visitors around to the Camellia Trail. Benches scattered here and there allowed for chances to stop and rest, have a snack and enjoy the view. Hopefully you’ll spot some migrating waterfowl in addition to the frogs, lizards, turtles and even snakes that call this area home.

Flower Display Garden

The Flower Display Garden is also on this end of the garden, and you should definitely stop in to see what is blooming before taking one of the dozens of trails back towards the Heritage Garden. If you continue past the parking area you’ll come to Kelly Meadow and the Meadow Pond, a beautiful panorama with a backdrop of the forest.

SC Botanical Gardens

In addition to a walk through the gardens, you might also be interested in the following attractions:

Fran Hanson Discovery Center & Gift Shop

On the very west end of the Gardens (past Kelly Meadow) is the Fran Hanson Discovery Center & Gift Shop. Built in 1998 as “The Wren House,” it was the first Southern Living Idea House. The second floor houses an art gallery that showcases local artists.

Campbell Geology Museum

The Campbell Geology Museum offers houses a collection of more than 10,000 minerals, rocks and fossils, a great activity for a rainy autumn day. And admission is free! The museum is open Monday – Sunday 10 am to 5 pm.

Cactus Gardens

The cactus gardens between the gift shop and the Geology Museum are interesting year-round, and the historical mining artifacts mixed in offer kids a fun game of “I Spy.”

Shoenike Arboretum

The Shoenike Arboretum features the legacy of Dr. Schoenike, who during his career at Clemson planted, cared for, and studied some 2000 trees and shrubs in the arboretum.

sc botanical garden

Plan your own trip to the SC Botanical Garden

There is always something going on in the garden! From concerts to hikes, homeschool days to wreath-making, there is something for everyone… Check the event calendar for more information.

Truly a state treasure hidden away in a corner of the Upstate, the SC Botanical Gardens are a must-see destination for visitors and residents alike. Spring is a favorite time of year to visit, although autumn also brings cooler temperatures, fewer insects and of course the colorful leaves while summer the gardens are in full bloom. Grab the kids and go explore, you’ll be sure to see something new on each trip!

South Carolina Botanical Garden
150 Discovery Lane
Clemson, SC
Open daily, dawn to dusk
Admission is free!

What is your favorite spot in the Gardens?

Keowee-Toxaway State Park Is Known for Spectacular Views of the Blue Ridge Mountains

Keowee-Toxaway State Park straddles Cherokee Foothills Scenic Highway (Hwy. 11) between Devils Fork State Park and Long Shoals Wayside Park, one of eight South Carolina State Parks located along the edge of the Blue Ridge Escarpment.

Keowee- Toxaway State Park in the Upstate of South Carolina

Known for spectacular views of the Blue Ridge Mountains, the 1,000 acre park is considered a gateway to the Jocassee Gorges, the area defined by a series of steep-sided gorges delivering mountain rivers and streams down to the Piedmont of South Carolina.


Things to do at Keowee-Toxaway State Park

Have a picnic

The state park is split by Highway 11, with the picnic shelters located on a short loop to the south. Five picnic shelters are available for rental. The picnic tables with free-standing grills throughout the park are offered on a first come, first serve basis.

Stop at the Visitor Center

Once you’ve finished your picnic lunch, head across Highway 11 to the north portion of the park. The Park Visitor Center houses exhibits about the natural diversity and history of the park, and its importance as a scientific research destination of the region.

If you’re looking to check out the Visitor Center, be advised that office hours are 11 am to noon and 4 – 5 pm. Despite these rather short hours, the Park is open Saturdays through Thursdays from 9 am – 6 pm and Fridays 9 am – 8 pm. After daylight savings time, the park is open Monday- Sunday until 9 pm. Keowee-Toxaway State Park is free to the public.

Hiking & Creek Stomping at Keowee-Toxaway

Mom and two kids splash near a small waterfall at Keowee-Toxaway State Park

There are 5.5 miles of trails in the Park, the two main hikes being Raven Rock Trail and Natural Bridge Trail. The trailhead for these two trails is located behind the park office. Natural Bridge Nature Trail is a 1½-mile loop, and at the far end of the loop is the Raven Rock trailhead. Combined with the Natural Bridge loop, you achieve a 4.4-mile hike to Raven Rock and back.

Use the Keowee-Toxaway SP trail map to help you navigate the area easily.

Natural Bridge Trail

Hiking the Natural Bridge loop clockwise starts you off along Poe creek and numerous small waterfalls. Soon you’ll come to the intersection with Raven Rock Trail with its views of Lake Keowee, passing rock outcrops and a boulder field before reaching Raven Rock. Looping back to Natural Bridge Trail you’ll cross Poe Creek on the trail’s namesake, an enormous natural rock ‘bridge’. You’ll then cross through an upland hardwoods forest to reach the parking lot.

Lake Trail

The ½ mile Lake Trail departs from the campground and emerges from the woods near the Villa to Lake Keowee, where guests can enjoy fishing for bass, bream, crappie, and catfish.

Keowee-Toxaway is a perfect hike for a spring day! Keep your eyes peeled for the wildflowers that enjoy the moisture along Poe Creek. You’ll also enjoy the rhododendrons and azaleas blooming in late spring and early summer. On a hot summer’s day prepare to cool down in Poe Creek. The irresistible tumble of water makes it hard to leave. Autumn brings colorful fall foliage, but catching the right day in winter means less-crowded trails and parking lots – this is a park for all four seasons.

Camping at Lake Keowee

Ten paved camping sites have individual water and electrical hookups for RVs up to 40 feet, while the tent camping area has 14 sites with central water, individual tent pads and fire rings. Restroom facilities with hot showers are available, as well as a dump station.

Backcountry camping is allowed at three designated sites on Lake Keowee. These are accessible by a hike on Raven Rock Trail, or by paddling to them in a canoe/kayak. For larger groups a primitive group area is located in the backcountry; registration is required and reservations are accepted.

If camping isn’t for you, reserve the three-bedroom villa that overlooks Lake Keowee near the boat launch. The cabin is completely furnished, heated & air-conditioned with all the amenities. It comes with linens, cooking and eating utensils, washer/dryer, satellite television, Wi-Fi, two fireplaces, and a private boat dock. Just know that pets are not allowed in the cabins.

Enjoy Lake Keowee!

Boating: Keowee-Toxaway provides non-motorized boat access to Lake Keowee; to launch a motorized boat you have to use the access at Fall Creek Landing, five miles southwest of the park.

Fishing: Fishing is allowed. Bass, bream, crappie, and catfish are commonly caught fish.

Swimming: Swimming is allowed, however, there are no lifeguards or designated swimming areas in the park; swim at your own risk.

With easy access to Lake Keowee, three beautiful trails with all kinds of unique natural features, and spectacular views throughout the park, Keowee-Toxaway has plenty to offer. We’ve enjoyed our visits in all four seasons. However, spring has a special magic with the ephemeral wildflowers blooming and trees budding electric green. Head north to this gem of a state park and experience the magic for yourself!

A portion of this post originally appeared on Femme au Foyer.

What’s your family’s favorite thing to do at Lake Keowee?

Thirty of the most beautiful natural places in South Carolina

Learn why the Jocassee Gorges are considered one of the most beautiful places in SC (and the US)!

Stunning Scenic Spots With No Hiking: An Upstate SC Driving Tour

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Do you want to enjoy beautiful views with no hiking at scenic overlooks near Greenville, SC? How about a driving tour of completely stunning overlooks, pull-offs, and scenic spots across the South Carolina Upstate? If that sounds amazing, we thought so too! So here it is, your No-Hiking Driving Tour of Gorgeous Scenic Spots Near Greenville, SC from KAG Contributor, Liene.

Mountain views and scenic overlooks near Greenville, SC

Scenic Views Without the Hike

While my family loves a good hike (and there’s no shortage of them in the Upstate!) we sometimes find ourselves looking for those stunning views – but with little to no hiking. Whether it’s because we have an out-of-town guest visiting who might have less experience on the trail or not physically capable of tackling local hikes, or because I was pregnant or adventuring with an infant, we found a dozen sites that we could pull right up to for that spectacular vista – with just a short walk! Head out to one or two of them, or take an epic driving tour of all of them for a taste of the SC Upcountry.

Wildcat Branch Falls

After breakfast at one of the many cute spots in Traveler’s Rest, head north to Cherokee Foothills Scenic Highway 11 and drive west. The first stop is Wildcat Wayside, the old rest stop for travelers on their way to Asheville.

With over a mile of trail that loops into the Mountain Bridge Wilderness Area, this trailhead can be a popular spot; be careful pulling in and out of the roadside parking area. However, you won’t have to go far to see the star attraction, as the 30ft waterfall is visible from the road. The shallow pool at the base is a popular swimming hole on hot summer days! 

Address: 5500 Geer Hwy, Cleveland, SC 29635

Waterfall at Wildcat Wayside
Wildcat Wayside

Bald Rock Heritage Preserve

After driving a little over ½ mile west on Highway 11 you’ll head north on Highway 276, then in 2.8 miles you’ll come to the roadside parking for Bald Rock Heritage Preserve. This 165-acre Preserve is home to several rare plants, as well as panoramic views stretching from Table Rock to downtown Greenville. Access to the granite outcrop is across the wooden footbridge. 

Address: Highway 276, Cleveland, SC 29635
GPS Coordinates: 35.082310,-82.621320

Bald Rock near Greenville

Caesars Head State Park

In another 4.6 miles’ drive north on Highway 276 you’ll reach the Caesars Head State Park Visitor Center. There is ample parking here, as well as restrooms, picnic tables and a gift shop. Take the short, 0.1-mile trail to the overlook featuring a wonderful view of Table Rock and the reservoir. 

Address: 8155 Geer Highway, Cleveland, SC, 29635

Caesars Head State Park in the clouds
Caesars Head State Park in the clouds

Grant Meadow Overlook

From Caesars Head, retrace your steps back to Cherokee Foothills Scenic Highway 11 and continue west. Just under a mile after Aunt Sue’s Country Corner look for Grant Meadow Overlook to your right. This scenic pull-off is newly open, an Upstate Forever conservation easement protecting the 57-acre property that includes the meadow and streams to the north.

Behind them, the focal point – Table Rock. Take a minute to read the historical marker that tells the story of the granite dome, or just soak in the view from the bench before continuing on to Table Rock State Park. 

Address: Grant Meadow Overlook, Pickens, SC 29671
GPS Coordinates: 35.034126, -82.684248

Grant Meadow Overlook

Table Rock Overlook

Table Rock Mountain rises 3,124 feet above sea level and can be seen for miles. But if you want to get up close without the strenuous 7+mi hike, just head to the Table Rock Viewpoint within Table Rock State Park.

To access the pull-off you’ll need a State Park Pass (or to pay admission); it is located about halfway between the Table Rock Nature Center and Gaines Lodge parking areas. If the Park is full or you don’t have a Park Pass, head instead to the Table Rock State Park Visitor Center on Lake Oolenoy, where you’ll find restrooms and a gift shop, plus rocking chairs on a wide porch with a prime view of Table Rock.

Address for overlook: 182-346 Table Rock State Park Road, Pickens, SC 29671
Address for Visitor Center: 158 E Ellison Lane, Pickens, SC 29671

Table Rock

Sassafras Mountain

From Table Rock State Park it’s another 4 miles or so to the intersection of Highway 11 and Moorefield Memorial Highway, where you make a right to drive north 7.5 miles to Rocky Bottom, SC. Make another right on F. Van Clayton Memorial Highway (Sassafras Mountain Road) and take it all the way to the end to Sassafras Mountain Observation Tower. This is the highest point in South Carolina!

From the parking lot to the tower is just over a tenth of a mile, but the short stroll is worth it as on a clear day you’ll have 360-degree mountain views of North & South Carolina and Georgia.

Address: 1391 F Van Clayton Memorial Highway, Sunset, SC 29685

Sassafras Observation Tower

Jumping Off Rock

This next stop requires a bit of time, and patience, as it requires a long drive down a gravel road. Once you are back on Moorefield Memorial Highway, go north 0.9 miles to Horse Pasture Road. This road is open year-round, but will close due to hazardous weather conditions: see SCDNR for updates. High clearance is recommended for the 9.6-mile drive to the overlook, but not required.

On your way in you’ll pass several Heritage Preserves and Wildlife Management Areas, with multiple waterfall hiking trails and Foothills Trail trailheads located on Horse Pasture Road.

Look for a small pull-off with an obvious trail, it’s only a couple hundred feet to the view. Jumping Off Rock is the first of several stops located in the Jocassee Gorges region in this driving tour that features views of Lake Jocassee; if you opt to skip it you’ll get similar views from the Bad Creek Overlook.

Address: 448 Horse Pasture Rd, Sunset, SC 29685

Jumping Off Rock

Long Shoals Wayside Park

Once back on Cherokee Foothills Scenic Highway, look for the intersection with Roy F. Jones Rd. After driving 1.4 miles west on Highway 11 you’ll see the entrance to Long Shoals Roadside Park. There are picnic tables located right next to the parking area, but this stop does require a short climb to reach Little Eastatoe Creek. While not as long as the walk to the Sassafras Mountain tower, it is a little steeper – it descends about 100ft. 

Address: Scenic Hwy 11, Pickens, SC 29671
GPS Coordinates: 34.949246, -82.851151

Long Shoals

Bad Creek Overlook

From Long Shoals Park drive west on Highway 11 for almost 10 miles. Turn right on SC-130 N and continue for 10.1 miles. Bad Creek is the site of the largest hydroelectric station operated by Duke Power and includes 7,500-acre Lake Jocassee, a 375-acre upper reservoir, an underground powerhouse and a one-mile-long tunnel bored through the mountain bedrock connecting the reservoirs and powerhouse.

The site is open to the public year-round, however, visitors must abide by the Bad Creek visitor regulations posted at the electronic gate at the entrance to the site, which is at the turn off SC-130 N onto Bad Creek Road.

Proceed carefully on Bad Creek Road. for 3.6 miles until you come to the entrance to the parking lot for the Bad Creek Visitor Overlook. This overlook has more breathtaking views of the emerald Lake Jocassee, with a backdrop of the mountains of the Jocassee Gorges. 

Address: Bad Creek Visitor Overlook, Bad Creek Road, Salem, SC 29676
GPS Coordinates: 34.995363, -82.992124

Note: Just to the north is the North Carolina border and Whitewater Falls, one of the tallest waterfalls in the east. We’ve chosen not to include it in this guide as the hike to the viewing platform is about 0.6 miles and involves stairs for the best view; this is also a fee area. However, it is close enough that it is definitely an option if interested. The waterfall can be viewed at the end of the paved 1/2 mile path without the stairs! Read more about Whitewater Falls in our driving tour of stunning waterfalls!

Bad Creek Overlook

Wigington Overlook

Once back on Whitewater Road drive south for 0.7 miles, then turn right and head west on Oscar Wigington Memorial Highway. This short connector route between SC-107 and SC-130 offers a fantastic bird’s-eye-view of Bad Creek Reservoir and the Carolina foothills from the Wigington Overlook, which is 1.4 miles from Whitewater Road.

Address:  Oscar Wigington Memorial Highway Scenic Overlook, State Rd S-37-413, Tamassee, SC 29686

GPS Coordinates: 35.001087, -83.043677

Wigington Overlook

Sloan Bridge & Chattooga Pull-Offs and Picnic Areas

Continue west on Wigington Highway until you reach Highway 107, Falling Waters Scenic Byway. Just north of the intersection is the Sloan Bridge Picnic Area, with restroom facilities and picnic tables. 2.3 miles south is Fish Hatchery Road, which leads to the Walhalla State Fish Hatchery, another picnic area, and a popular spot for fishing. 

Sloan Bridge address: Sloans Bridge Access, Tamassee, SC (GPS Coordinates: 35.003620, -83.054143)
Walhalla State Fish Hatchery address: 198 Fish Hatchery Road, Mountain Rest, SC 29664

Sloan Bridge

Burrell’s Place Pull-Off

One mile south of Fish Hatchery Road is a memorial site for five service members who were killed when a B-25 Army Air Corps plane crashed into a mountaintop at night on March 10, 1943. At the Burrell’s Place Pull-Off, visitors can find a memorial marker with the names of the servicemen. 1/3 mile further is a wide spot in the road that has room for a couple of cars, with a view of Cantrell Mountain and the Upstate beyond.

GPS Coordinates: 34.964861, -83.078429  

Russell Farmstead (Chattooga Town)

After cruising the rest of Falling Waters Scenic Byway, you’ll reach Highway 28S. Make a right and continue towards the SC/GA border, and in 7.5 miles you’ll reach the pull-off for Chattooga Town, which is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

The Russell house was a busy Appalachian farmstead in the late 1800s and early 1900s, and served as a stopover for travelers headed north to NC to escape the hot South Carolina summers. A fire destroyed the main house and three outbuildings in 1988, leaving only a chimney of the main house, but the foundations are visible and an interpretive sign on the site details the layout of the farmstead.

Address: Mountain Rest, SC 29664
GPS Coordinates: 34.909300, -83.172708

Chattooga River (Oconee County) Pull-Off

Retracing your steps to Mountain Rest, SC, you’ll take Chattooga Ridge Road to Long Creek Highway; the next destination is where Highway 76 crosses the Chattooga. Just before the river there is a 10-minute parking pull-off with room for about 6 cars, and a walkway that leads to an overlook of the Chattooga River and the bridge. If you would prefer a closer look at the river, park at the US Forest Service Chattooga River Access site across the way, though that will require a short walk.

Address: Highway 76 Chattooga River Access, Mountain Rest, SC 29664
GPS Coordinates: 34.814151, -83.303892

The fastest way back to Greenville from the Chattooga River is through Clemson on Highway 123, though if you’re looking to take the scenic route (or headed to our starting point in Traveler’s Rest) you’ll want to take Highway 11. We often detour through Pickens to stop for food, or watch the sun set from Glassy Mountain. 

Pack that bag of gear & snacks, and hit the road this spring with the Kidding Around Greenville guide to scenic viewpoints and pull-offs. Make sure to tag us in your photo posts to let us know which scenic pull-offs and overlooks near Greenville, SC that you enjoyed most!

Waterfalls to see with no hiking, NC

Love a good nature-filled driving tour?

Don’t miss this tour of Stunning Waterfalls With NO Hiking!

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!

Sassafras Mountain: You Can Get to the Highest Point in SC Without Hiking

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Ready for a FREE adventure? Head to the summit of South Carolina’s Sassafras Mountain where an observation tower awaits. From the tower, you’ll be able to see across the mountains of North Carolina, Georgia, and even into Tennessee. local mom, Liene, has all the details so you can plan this fun, FREE, adventure with your family!

Sassafras Mountain in South Carolina

Sassafras Mountain: elevation 3,553’. It’s the highest point in the state of South Carolina and a spot to keep in mind as you’re planning summer adventures! The peak straddles not only the line between North and South Carolina but the Eastern Continental Divide; from its summit, four states are visible on a clear day. Still, this scenic viewpoint is one of the most easily accessed “highest points” in the US, perfect for a family day trip from Greenville.

Sassafras Observation Tower

Sassafras Mountain’s Observation Tower

It wasn’t always accessible. Although long the site of a fire lookout tower, it was only in the 1990s that the SC DNR acquired the acreage of what is now known as the Jocassee Gorges. At that time the last 4.5 miles of road to the summit were paved, a parking lot was installed, and in 2010, three acres of trees were cleared from the summit, revealing the views that can be seen today.

The breakthrough came when the viewing plaza at the top of Sassafras Mountain was completed, including picnic tables, several viewing platforms, a central viewing tower, multiple trails, educational signage, and restrooms. The observation tower is also ADA accessible!

Floor of the Sassafras Mountain Observation Tower

Where is Sassafras Mountain?

Sassafras Mountain is just a short detour off scenic Highway 11 in Pickens County, the mountain road that travels along the base of the Blue Ridge Escarpment. It offers nice vies of the Blue Ridge Mountains as well. From Pickens, it’s 16 miles north on US 178 to Rocky Bottom, where after making a right turn (east) on F. Van Clayton Memorial Highway it’s about 5 miles to the end of the road (just short of the summit).

Plenty of parking, as well as convenient restrooms, make it an easy spot to explore with kids, and temperatures tend to be about 10˚ cooler than in Greenville, convenient on a hot summer day.

1391 F Van Clayton Memorial Hwy, Sunset, SC 29685


Hiking Trails Near Sassafras Mountain

While you can drive to the top of Sassafras Mountain and head to the observation deck without any hiking, what if you want to do some hiking? There are trailheads at the top of Sassafras Mountain where you can access the Foothills Trail. You can hike all the way to Table Rock if you desire, but it’s strenuous and not a hike for families.

You could just walk a short portion of the trail and turn around to climb back up to the observation platform for lunch with a view. Or you could just meander around the observation area and boulders to enjoy the views. But if you really want to do some hiking as a family, there are several great trails for families near Sassafras.

Twin Falls is an easy hike with a big payoff. It’s about 25 minutes away from Sassafras Mountain.
Table Rock State Park is 27 minutes away and it has several trails to choose from. Carrick Creek Trail is great for kids.
Devils Fork State Park/Lake Jocassee is 40 minutes from Sassafras. The mile-long Oconee Bell Trail there is beautiful, especially in the spring. The lake is fantastic for paddling and swimming.
Mile Creek Park is 40 minutes away and is great for swimming.
Brevard, NC is 30 minutes away and it has tons of waterfalls and trails.


Sassafras Mountain Things to Do

The views from the summit stretch to the Highlands in North Carolina, Mount Pisgah on the Blue Ridge Parkway, the Chattooga Ridge near Walhalla, and to Georgia & (supposedly) Tennessee (I say supposedly because although it was easy to pick out the Georgia range, I wasn’t sure if it was the Smoky Mountains in TN we were looking at in the distance). Pack a picnic, bring binoculars, and don’t forget your camera!

Landscape mountain views from Sassafras Mountain

About Sassafras Mountain: 3 Interesting Facts to Share With the Kids

3 Watersheds

Interesting fact, this is the separation point for three distinct watersheds: two into the Atlantic and one into the Gulf. Water draining from the east side of the mountain flows into the South Saluda, then on to the Broad River, the Congaree and then into the Santee-Cooper Lakes, ending up in the Atlantic.

From the south side of the mountain, water drains into Eastatoe Creek, running through Lake Keowee and Lake Hartwell down to the Savannah River and also into the Atlantic.

Water from the north and west sides of the mountain flows into the French Broad, making its way north through Asheville and Knoxville into the Tennessee River, then the Ohio River, and finally the Mississippi (up to Cairo, IL!) before flowing back down south into the Gulf of Mexico.

2 States: North and South Carolina State Line

Although Sassafras is the tallest mountain in the state, a portion of it is actually in North Carolina. While there, check out the markers for the state line, just a short distance west on a rock outcrop. Two states for the price of one… and that price is $0, as there is no admission to the park.

1 Highest Peak in South Carolina

In a list of each state’s highest peak, Sassafras Summit ranks 29th. Neighboring North Carolina’s Mount Mitchell comes in 16th at 6,684’, and Georgia’s Brasstown Bald 25th at 4,784’. Although nearby Tennessee also has a higher peak (Clingmans Dome, 17th at 6,643’), at least we’ve got Florida beat – at 345’ Britton Hill comes in dead last, even after the District of Columbia.

However, this lower ranking shouldn’t stop you from making the 60-minute drive from Greenville this summer. The drive is scenic, the views are unbeatable, and the fresh mountain air will inspire and invigorate you to climb more peaks!

Have you visited Sassafras Mountain?

Thirty of the most beautiful natural places in South Carolina

Learn why the Jocassee Gorges are considered one of the most beautiful places in SC (and the US)!

Have an Appalachian Christmas at Earthshine Lodge

Looking for a new holiday tradition this year? The Earthshine Lodge Christmas celebrations offer a truly magical experience that your kids will talk about forever after experiencing Appalachian Christmas. Kidding Around contributor, Liene, has all the information about staying at the lodge, Christmas crafts and activities, llama hikes, brunch with Santa, and a whole lot more.

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