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Author Archive

Twelve Mile Recreation Area Has One of the Nicest Beaches in the Upstate

Have you visited Twelve Mile Recreation Area, a Clemson City Park on Lake Hartwell? Grab the swimsuits and those inflatable tubes because local mom Liene brought her kids for swimming and found a park full of family-friendly amenities that make it a great spot to spend a summer day. Here’s why you should visit and what to expect!

You can find more lakes that allow swimming in our list of swimming holes near Greenville, SC.

Things to Do at Twelve Mile Recreation Area

  • Swimming
  • Playing in the sand
  • Picnics
  • Boating
  • Fishing
  • Playground
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30 Most Beautiful Places in South Carolina: Natural Spaces!

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Introducing the most beautiful places in South Carolina, as you’ve never seen before! Join Kidding Around Greenville adventuring our way from the mountains to the sea, stopping at epic sites along the way. These spots were part of the 2021 SC7 Expedition, named South Carolina 7 for the seven wonders that we’ll explore on our journey, including National Geographic-recognized ecological areas, historical sites, and other natural wonders.

Thirty of the most beautiful natural places in South Carolina

The SC7 expedition across South Carolina

Looking for the 2023 SC7 expedition? Here are the events happening on the 2023 SC7 Expedition!

30 Amazing Adventures in SC
Day 1: OCONEE COUNTY – “Garden of the Gods”
Day 2: STUMPHOUSE & ISSAQUEENA
Day 3: EASTATOE PASSAGE
Day 4: ROUNDTOP MOUNTAIN
Day 5: SASSAFRAS MOUNTAIN – “Roof of the Palmetto State”
Day 6: JOCASSEE GORGES
Day 7: CHATTOOGA RIVER RAFTING
Day 8: MIDDLE SALUDA PASSAGE
Day 9:  KINGS MOUNTAIN NATIONAL & STATE MILITARY PARKS
Day 10: CROFT PASSAGE HIKE
Day 11: GLENN SPRINGS PASSAGE HIKE
Day 12: BLACKSTOCK BATTLEFIELD/MUSGROVE MILL
Day 13: ENOREE PASSAGE HIKE
Day 14: NEWBERRY PASSAGE HIKE
Day 15: PEAK TO PROSPERITY
Day 16: FORT JACKSON PASSAGE HIKE
Day 17: CONGAREE NATIONAL PARK – “Redwoods of the East”
Day 18: HISTORIC CAMDEN
Day 19: SANTEE INDIAN MOUND FIELDS
Day 20: MEMORIAL SERVICE FOR FRANCIS MARION at BELLE ISLE PLANTATION CEMETERY
Day 21: LAKE MOULTRIE PASSAGE
Day 22: CYPRESS GARDENS
Day 23: FORT FAIR LAWN REVOLUTIONARY WAR FORTIFICATION
DAY 24: SWAMP FOX PASSAGE – CANOE WADBOO CREEK
Day 25: AWENDAW PASSAGE HIKE
Day 26: BROOKGREEN GARDENS
DAY 27: EDISTO RIVER
Day 28: ACE BASIN
Day: 29 BULL ISLAND
Day 30: COOPER RIVER

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20+ Natural Swimming Holes Near Greenville, SC: Beautiful and Refreshing

Looking for a swimming hole near Greenville, SC to cool off in the South Carolina heat? We love swimming holes because they are great for swimming, wading and splashing in nature. If you’re wondering “where are the swimming holes near me?” you’re in luck, because these lakes, rivers, and creeks are the perfect spots to get wet on a hot summer day.

Pack a few beach towels and your bathing suits and head to a nearby swimming hole to cool off!

Jump into the crystal clear water, find a hidden gem swimming beach, glide on a rope swing into a natural pool. All this and more is waiting at swimming holes near Greenville, SC.

Are swimming holes better than swimming pools? We’ll let you decide.

If you’re looking for more options, don’t miss our huge guide Where to Cool Off, Splash, and Swim in Upstate, SC. It also includes splash pads, water parks, and pools.

This article includes Swimming Holes “Great Places to Swim Near Me”:
Swimming Holes in South Carolina
Lake Keowee public access parks
Lake Jocassee public access parks
Lake Hartwell at Twelve Mile Recreation Area
Long Shoals Wayside Park
Wildcat Wayside
Cedar Shoals Creek, Musgrove Mill State Historic Site
Chau Ram County Park
Campbell’s Covered Bridge
Pleasant Ridge County Park
Lake Placid, Paris Mountain State Park
Pinnacle Lake, Table Rock State Park
Oconee State Park

Swimming Holes in North Carolina
The Quarry at Carrigan Farms
Midnight Hole
Graveyard Fields
Schoolhouse Falls
Silver Run Falls
Sliding Rock in Cashiers
Gorges State Park

What? That’s not enough swimming holes for you?

If you love swimming holes and want more, here’s a great list of Swimming Holes in North Georgia. Pack a lunch and make it an awesome day trip adventure!

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Lake Conestee Nature Preserve: Trail System Has Amazing Views and Wildlife!

Have you enjoyed the trails at Lake Conestee Nature Preseve? The 21-mile Swamp Rabbit Trail crosses through the nature preserve and offers beautiful views and opportunities to see local wildlife. This article is all about this Lake Conestee Nature Preserve portion of the Swamp Rabbit Trail. We’re telling you how to get there and what you can expect to see!

Discover the Swamp Rabbit Trail

The Prisma Health Swamp Rabbit Trail travels 21 miles across the Upstate, and in order to help families plan their excursions on the SRT we are offering this series on the different sections of the Prisma Health Swamp Rabbit Trail. The Prisma Health Swamp Rabbit Trail overview is a great place to start.  Then, in this article local mom Liene, gives more detail on the Lake Conestee Nature Preserve section of the Trail. Please also visit our Lake Conestee Nature Preserve overview for more information on what else this fantastic park has to offer.

Swamp Rabbit Trail in Lake Conestee Nature Preserve

Looking for a place to go bike riding this spring? One of my family’s favorite sections of the trail system is the south end within Lake Conestee Nature Preserve With a few road crossings, beautiful scenery, ample parking, and plenty of interesting stopping points, your family is guaranteed a stress-free outing.

Of the 21 miles of the Prisma Health Swamp Rabbit Trail System, 2 are within the main section of Conestee, while another 2 miles connect to the north portion of the park and to Parkins Mill and Mauldin Road, making for an 8-mile round trip that can easily be shortened as needed.

Highlights of the Lake Conestee Nature Park Section of the Prisma Health Swamp Rabbit Trail:

  • Perfect for bikes. (Note: signs advise cyclists to walk their bicycles for the portions of the trail utilizing boardwalks).
  • Features calming scenery and interesting stopping points in a natural setting.
  • With a total of 8 miles of trail (round trip), the route is easily customized for your family.
  • Utilizes public roads for a short section between the north and main units of Lake Conestee Nature Park.
SRT Conestee Mill

Start at Historic Conestee Mill

The adventure starts at Historic Conestee Mill ( 1 Spanco Drive, Conestee). While the Conestee section is not connected to the main trunk of trail (that winds its way north along the Reedy River all the way to Travelers Rest), the trailhead at the historic Conestee Mill serves as a southern terminus for the trail.

The History of Conestee Mill

There has been a mill on the Reedy River at this spot since as far back as the 1790s, but it was small scale until the 1830s when Vardy McBee purchased almost 300 acres in the region and built a much larger dam. Over the years ownership changed hands, the dam was rebuilt, and it is thought that material for Confederate Army uniforms was manufactured at the mill during the Civil War.

In 1909 Reedy River Manufacturing was renamed Conestee Mill, after the Cherokee word for “running waters.”  The mill ceased production in the early 1970s and foreclosed in 1978.

A new redevelopment plan brings residential and commerical space to Conestee Mill.

Spot birds and animals from one of the several observation decks

There is a free parking lot for trail access off Spanco Drive, and the first tenth of a mile of trail winds away from the kiosk around the South Bay (named for the location in relation to Reedy River).

Right across from the intersection with the Rusty Link connector (access at South Pine Circle off Conestee Rd.) is the South Bay Observation Deck. This is a good spot to look for great blue herons and other waterfowl.

The next observation deck (overlooking Crescent Slough) has given us glimpses of muskrats, snakes and a multitude of birds. This relatively short stretch of trail sees an abundance of wildflowers in the spring, and the kiddos are almost guaranteed to spot a few turtles sunning themselves on logs at the edge of the lake.

Note that portions of the trail utilize boardwalks; signs advise cyclists to walk their bicycles on these sections.

Once the trail turns west a boardwalk goes off to the north, to River Otter Way and Froggy Bottom Link on Sparkleberry Island. Heron Spur, the small boardwalk to the West Bay observation deck, is just a short distance from this point and definitely worth the detour. This is the best viewing spot for the great blue heron rookery, and American green tree frogs, fish & turtles can usually be seen from the viewing deck.

Great Blue Heron at Lake Conestee

The Sparkleberry Connector Connects the Swamp Rabbit Trail with Conestee Park

Once back on the Swamp Rabbit Trail you’ll come to a scenic viewpoint on the opposite side of West Bay, and a short distance later is the intersection with Flat Tail Trail (connects to the parking lot at the Belmont Fire Department). At this point, the SRT makes a wide loop around Marrow Bone Creek, and connects to the Stone House parking lot, Henderson Farm, and various observation points with a series of connector trails and boardwalks.

These trails mostly aren’t bicycle-friendly (with the exception of the Stone House Spur), but do make for awesome hiking adventures.

Approaching the two-mile mark you’ll find the entrance to the Sparkleberry Connector which just opened a little more than a year ago. The ¾ mile paved trail connects the Swamp Rabbit Trail to Conestee Park (Greenville County Recreation), popular for its dog park, playground, ball parks and restroom facilities.

Make sure to check out the bridge over the Reedy River; an enormous black rat snake calls the large tree hanging over the river its home, and on sunny days it can often be seen sunning itself on the branches.

Head North to Breazeale Farm

To reach the north section of Lake Conestee Nature Park follow Chatham Drive to Churchill Circle, and re-enter the park at the Churchill Trailhead.

The next 0.6 miles through the Breazeale Farm portion of the park will pass both ends of Tree Frog Trail.  This trail utilizes a portion of the SRT to form a 1-mile loop.

The Breazeale Farm parcel was historically a cotton farm before being converted to a dairy farm and was home to dairy cattle as late as the 1960s.

The Swamp Rabbit Trail emerges at Brushy Creek south of ReWa’s Mauldin Road Wastewater Treatment Plant, from where it crosses the river once more before ending just short of Interstate 85 on Parkins Mill Road. The gap from Lake Conestee Nature Park to where the trail picks back up again at Greenville Technical College is only two miles. 

Although long-term plans hope to connect the two sections, funds are currently being diverted to the addition of a connector that will link the SRT in Cleveland Park to ICAR down Laurens Road.

If you choose to continue, please keep in mind that the 2-mile suggested route to Greenville Tech sees some pretty intense traffic. Check out our KAG guide to the northern section of the Swamp Rabbit Trail for more information!

Once you’ve returned to Conestee Mill make sure to rest and refuel at one of the picnic tables situated overlooking the South Bay. Pack a picnic to enjoy at one of the overlooks, remember your water bottles & sunscreen, and enjoy your time on the trail.

Whether you choose to cycle or to hike, whether you complete the entire 8-mile southern portion of the trail or the 4 miles within the main portion of the park; this beautiful, wild section of the Swamp Rabbit Trail will have you itching to continue north all the way to Travelers Rest!

Maps

For a map of Conestee Nature Park, click here.

For more on the Conestee section of the Prisma Health Swamp Rabbit Trail, parking, overlooks and all other trails, please click here.

This article was originally published on Femme au foyer.

Has your family explored the Prisma Health Swamp Rabbit Trail at Lake Conestee Nature Park?

Get 360-Degree Mountain Views at Bearwallow Mountain: Hendersonville, NC

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Have you hiked the Bearwallow Mountain Trail? This easy trail in Hendersonville, NC lends itself to incredible, 360-degree views of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Here’s everything you need to know about the hike, plus some cool things to do nearby Bearwallow Mountain!

In the 10 years (or thereabouts) that we’ve lived in Greenville, we’ve yet to exhaust the list of hiking trails within an hour’s drive from the city. Not only are we constantly discovering new areas through friends and various groups, but trails are being established in newly-established conservancies and preserves through the efforts of groups like Conserving Carolina. One of our favorite late spring/early summer hikes is a comparatively new trail that leads to the summit of Bearwallow Mountain.

Bearwallow Mountain in Hendersonville, NC
Bearwallow Mountain Summit

About Bearwallow Mountain

Hendersonville-based Conserving Carolina acquired a conservation easement on the summit of Bearwallow in 2009, adding close to 400 more acres between the summit and trailhead in recent years. At 4,232 ft. this is the highest peak in the Bearwallow Highlands range that straddles the Eastern Continental Divide. The mountain is part of the Blue Ridge Escarpment and the western rim of the Hickory Nut Gorge, and views from the summit extend to Mt. Mitchell in the Black Mountains and Mt. Pisgah in the Great Balsams.

Conserving Carolina constructed the Bearwallow Mountain trail with the help of the Carolina Mountain Club, REI and community volunteers, and the hope is that eventually it will be incorporated into a 15-mile Upper Hickory Nut Gorge Trail, a loop that will link Bearwallow Mountain to CMLC’s Florence Preserve and the summit of Ferguson Peak. You can follow the progress of the trails in this area on the Conserving Carolina website.

On a recent warm summer day we took Poinsett Highway out of Greenville and then turned onto I-25 to cross into North Carolina. I had a momentary lapse of memory and thought I had forgotten our lunch on the counter, justifying a stop at one of the many stands by the side of the road to buy a bucket of freshly-picked strawberries. In another couple of months it’ll be peaches and apples… can’t wait! After jumping on I-26 towards Hendersonville, we took exit 49A for US Hwy. 64 east.

For further instructions see the Conserving Carolina website, but be aware that there’s a fork in the road that intuitively leads you off on N Bearwallow Rd. when you want to stay on Bearwallow Mountain Road.

Hiking up to Bearwallow Mountain Summit

The Bearwallow Mountain trailhead is at the crest of Bearwallow Mountain Rd. (Bearwallow Gap) where the pavement turns to gravel (the gravel road continues on over 2 miles to the town of Gerton, NC). Parking is along the shoulder, and the trail begins beyond the old, rusted gate. You’ll see the trail kiosk on the right, marking the beginning of the one-mile ascent up to the summit. The gravel service road that heads off to the left meets the trail at the summit and continues on to the historic fire tower and telephone towers. You can take either way to the summit.

If you take the trail, be prepared for switchbacks and rocky stairs almost the entire way. Rhododendron and trillium distracted us from the somewhat steep climb, but poison ivy kept us on the trail. As we neared the top we passed several rocky outcrops, before emerging into a grassy meadow which has nearly a 360-degree view of the surrounding states.

The gravel road is also a hike up but wide and easy, especially if you’ve got smaller kids. Dogs are allowed on the trail but they must be on leash.

The panoramic views up here are incredible. I love taking a picnic and hanging out at the top while just taking in all the beauty. Bearwallow Mountain is perfect for sunrise or sunset, just be sure to bring a headlamp.

If you’re lucky, you’ll get to see the grazing cows at the top but please just let them graze and don’t go up and try to cuddle with them. Even if you don’t see the cows, you’ll definitely see the cow patties so just watch your step.

Nearby Things to Do

There are several nearby activities if you want to make a day trip. We have an entire story on the Hendersonville area, which you’ll want to check out, but here are just a few of my favorites depending on what time of year you hike Bearwallow Mountain.

Spring & Summer

Nearby Lake Lure has a great beach to hang out at. You can swim or rent a kayak or paddleboard and check out the lake.

Next to the beach is the free Flowering Bridge, which is gorgeous! They have all types of flowers and I think spring and summer have the most beautiful ones.

Chimney Rock next to Lake Lure has an adorable village that my kids and I love to walk around at. There’s a great place next to Chimney Rock State Park to get ice cream and you can go gem mining.

During the summer months, people really love the free Fairy Trail at Bullington Gardens. There are little fair houses and trolls to find along the short path.

Fall

Late summer and fall is apple picking season and there are plenty of places to go within 20 minutes or so fo Bearwallow Mountain.

If you love apple cider donuts, then don’t miss our Apple Cider Donut tour near Hendersonville.

I think Chimney Rock State Park is best viewed during the fall because of the incredible fall colors (but really, that park is awesome anytime of year).

Did you know there’s a llama farm that you can visit most times of the year where you can hike with llamas or run with them through obstacle courses? Do not miss Ellaberry Llama Farm. It will make you happy for months after!

Winter

Go snow tubing at Black Bear Snow Tubing, right around the corner from Bearwallow Mountain. They’ve got a great lodge to get hot chocolate at as well.

Moonshine Mountain is also another fun spot to go snow tubing. Just get there early since they don’t take reservations.

Has your family explored Bearwallow Mountain yet?

Volunteer Opportunities in the Great Outdoors Near Greenville, SC

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I know what you’re thinking. Where are the best outdoor volunteer opportunities near me? You’re in luck because Greenville, SC has a lot of organizations that need your help keeping Greenville beautiful! With the mantra of “give back to places you love” guiding our family’s approach to volunteer work, we have discovered there are plenty of opportunities to invest your time into the outdoor spaces and places you care about. Here are some of the volunteer stewardship opportunities in the Upstate, and how to get involved in the protection of our shared lands!

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King Creek Falls: Hike along the Chattooga River to a 70-foot Tiered Waterfall in South Carolina

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One of the best waterfall hikes around is King Creek Falls. SC only has a couple of accessible waterfalls that you can hike up to, so this waterfall is worth the trek. The hike to this 70-foot waterfall is 1 to 2 miles depending on your starting point. The waterfall’s reward is great for kids, with a pool fit for splashing and exploring. Find out all the details about this hike, how to find it, and where to park below.

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Hiking the Palmetto Trail in South Carolina

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Have you hiked any of the Palmetto Trail as it crosses South Carolina? Kidding Around Contributor, Liene, has hiked many sections of the Palmetto Trail with her family. Her article is broken up by passage of the Palmetto Trail and location, so you can hike the section closest to you, plan a longer-distance adventure, or travel for a weekend getaway with some hiking.

Hike the Palmetto Trail

About The Palmetto Trail

South Carolina is fortunate to have not one, but two long-distance hiking trails traversing our beautiful state: the Foothills and the Palmetto Trails. While the Foothills Trail extends from Table Rock State Park to Oconee State Park along the foothills of the Appalachians, the Palmetto Trail traverses the entire state – from the mountains to the sea – and almost half of it is within a couple of hours’ drive of Greenville! Whether you are looking for a short stroll in the woods, a challenging multi-mile trek with the kids, or a backpacking adventure for your family, you can find it right here in the Upstate on the Palmetto Trail.

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