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.
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6 years ago

“a few miles east of Keowee-Toxaway State Natural Area. ” does not help me a bit. I wished more of these government websites would include addresses that can be entered in a GPS.

5 years ago

If you are visiting Long Shoals, PLEASE be respectful of our public lands and clean up after yourselves. It is gaining a lot of popularity and for those who have been enjoying it for years are now spending time picking up garbage, cigarette butts, beer bottles and a massive amount of Carpi Sun’s straw wrappers. Also, for families with smaller children, there is a wading pool away from the rock slide that allows for the littles to enjoy this space, too. HOWEVER, during the busy season it is best to come in the morning and plan to leave by 12… Read more »

5 years ago

Girls can tinkle in the woods too, you know 🙂