Have you tried hiking Jones Gap State Park? Just a 25-mile ride from Downtown Greenville will place your family in a breathtaking scene of mountain forest greenery. Where boulder-hopping fun, waterfall viewing, trout fishing, primitive camping, and more await as you stare up in wonder at the Eastern Continental Divide. Hiking Jones Gap is fun for all skill levels and groups as there are trails for everyone – usually with a reward of a waterfall find!
Jones Gap parking policies include reserving parking spaces for visiting the park on Saturdays and Sundays before 2 pm. The cost to reserve a parking space is $5. Spots will be held until 2 pm. You can reserve a parking spot at Jones Gap here. No lines will be allowed to form at the gate of the park. Once the park is at capacity the gates will be closed and not opened until 2 pm. Reserve spots by 11:59 am the day before you visit. You can check to see if parking is full before your visit.
Want more tips on places to hike in the Upstate? Check out our list of best places to hike with toddlers and young kids.
What to expect at Jones Gap
As you enter the park, you will immediately come upon the beautiful Middle Saluda River as it winds its way through the forest floor, babbling around corners and cascading over boulders. Many strenuous trails lead to waterfalls throughout the park, including the beautiful (but strenuous) trail which leads to Rainbow Falls and it is possible to even hike from Jones Gap to Caesars Head (just not recommended with tots).
Luckily for families with little ones, a popular moderate trail follows the river to a waterfall, allowing hikers to enjoy the river along every step of the way. This trail is a small portion of the Jones Gap Trail and it leads to Jones Gap Falls.
For a round-trip hike of 2.6 miles (1.3 each way), it has a lot to offer! Boulders are strewn about the moderate trail which has always proved very entertaining for my kiddos – hopping, scaling, and launching off left and right. There is, of course, the river. Always available for a cool dip or a nice picnic.
And eventually, there is the waterfall “reward”! A fan waterfall splashes over a 50-foot drop, spilling over a staircase of granite ledges and misting little faces with excitement. Pack a picnic and plan to spend a few hours on this lovely trail with your kiddos. The trail is so beautiful that if your kids couldn’t stick it out to the falls, nothing would be lost alongside that gorgeous river.
Parking at Jones Gap
An important side note about the park is that there is only a small parking area available. The park now requires parking space reservations on the weekends. No line is allowed to form at the gate. Unused spots open at 2 pm. Monday through Friday no reservations are required, though you may have to wait for a parking spot. If I were to haul my kiddos out there and find the parking lot full, I’d plan on hopping over to Table Rock or Caesars Head as a backup plan instead.
Plan your own trip!
Jones Gap State Park
303 Jones Gap Road, Marietta
$6 for adults; $3.50 kids 6 – 15; kids 5 and under are free
9 am – 9 pm during daylight savings time, 9 am to 6 pm during the rest of the year.
Where is your favorite place to hike with your family? Tell us in the comments?