Are you looking for a place to enjoy the great outdoors in Greenville, SC? Paris Mountain State Park, located 15 minutes outside the city of Greenville off State Park Road, is a staple to the Greenville outdoorsy community. You can hike over 17 miles of trails, mountain bike the ridge, and even take a swim with the kids in Lake Placid. The park has multiple trails of varying difficulty.
Plus, Paris Mountain has family-friendly camping sites that make camping more enjoyable. Find out all of the things the only state park in Greenville has to offer in our handy guide.
Things to Do at Paris Mountain State Park
If you live near Greenville, SC, Paris Mountain has probably been on your radar for some time. The historic state park was created by the Civilian Conservation Corps during the Great Depression. Today, Paris Mountain is a haven for outdoor lovers who want access to over 1700 acres to explore.
There are 10 trails that range from easy to strenuous located throughout the park. You will also find excellent trails for mountain biking, a sandy beach for swimming, a playground area, and several picnic areas that are shaded.
Like camping? Paris Mountain State Park also has that! Seems like the perfect balance to us. Learn more about everything that Paris Mountain State Park has to offer below.
Paris Mountain State Park Camping
It is hard not to love camping under the stars, especially when campsites can be found less than 20 minutes from Downtown Greenville. The park offers paved campsites, trailside tent campsites along the North Lake, or group camping at Camp Buckhorn.
Paved Camping Sites
- 13 tent pad sites and 39 paved campsites
- Individual water and electrical hookup, with some sites able to accommodate large RV’s if you’re looking to camp with style.
- Hot showers, access to restrooms, and close proximity to the park center.
- Access to the park lakes, closest to Lake Placid via the Lake Placid Trail.
These sites are perfect for families camping with young children since you are close to everything you need. You can find more information about reserving pads and paved campsites on the SC State Park camping reservation website.
Trailside Camping Sites
If you are looking for a more ‘immersion in nature’ vibe near Greenville, SC, Paris Mountain has 5 trailside camping sites that fit the bill. These sites are tent camping sites. It will take a decent hike to the sites around the North Lake Trail Loop located at the top of Paris Mountain, so pack only what you absolutely need.
Each trailside camping site can accommodate 5 people, with two tent spots at each. Sites are right on the lake, so you will have gorgeous views and plenty of trees to string up a hammock and relax.
To reserve trailside camping sites at Paris Mountain State Park, contact the park directly at 864.244.5565.
Group Cabin Lodging at Camp Buckhorn
Have a large group that wants to camp together? Camp Buckhorn at Paris Mountain State Park can accommodate 40 people. Inside the camp lodge, there are:
- A full kitchen with basic necessities for cooking,
- Restrooms and shower facilities.
- 10 primitive cabins at Camp Buckhorn with two sets of bunk beds per cabin.
Sounds like the perfect place to gather your group for a true wilderness experience while singing kumbaya by the fire together at night. Pets are not allowed at the lodging facilities, so keep that in mind when booking. If you are wanting to make a group reservation, contact Paris Mountain State Park directly at 864. 244.5565.
Hiking and Mountain Biking
Paris Mountain State Park trail system has around 17 miles of trails to explore, ranging from easy to strenuous. Many of the hiking trails are also some of the gnarliest mountain biking trails near Greenville, SC. Several trails are designated for mountain biking and are full of dips, and fast drops, and many of the trails will give you an intense ride. Though, keep in mind that mountain biking is not allowed on Saturdays on any of the trails.
For hiking, you’ll be pleasantly surprised to find family-friendly trails on the Lake Placid Trail, the Fire Tower Trail, and the Turtle Trail. These trails are best for families with younger children, and all offer wildlife to observe and woodland views.
The trails are an excellent place to exercise with your dogs. Dogs are allowed on the trails for hiking, but make sure they are kept on their leashes!
Trails at Paris Mountain State Park
You can find more trail information below, including difficulty, length, and if they allow mountain biking.
Lake Placid Trail: Easy, 0.75 mile loop, hiking only trail, great for kids.
Fire Tower Trail: Easy, 0.4-mile loop, hiking and mountain biking allowed, great for kids.
Turtle Trail: Easy, great for kids, hiking and mountain biking allowed, connects campsite to Lake Placid Trail.
Sassafras Trail: Moderate, 2.3-mile loop, hiking and mountain biking allowed.
North Lake Trail: Moderate, 1.2-mile loop, hiking and mountain biking allowed, You have to take the Kanuga trail or Pipsissewa Trail to access the North Lake trail.
Mountain Creek Trail: Moderate, 1.3 miles, hiking and mountain biking allowed, connects to Lake Placid trail.
Kanuga Trail: Strenuous, 2 miles, hiking and mountain biking allowed.
Pipsissewa Trail: Strenuous, 1.0-mile trail, hiking and mountain biking allowed, accesses the North Lake Trail
Brissy Ridge Trail: Strenuous, 2.9-mile loop, hiking and mountain biking allowed (on a portion of this trail, hiking only)
Sulfur Springs Trails: Strenuous, 3.8-mile loop, hiking trail only, lots of native plants and wildlife can be seen on this trail.
Check out the Paris Mountain State Park Trail Map before you head to the park to plan out your adventure!
Swimming at Paris Mountain
Looking for a sandy beach near Greenville, SC? Paris Mountain has one! Located near the park center at Lake Placid, you will find a small, sandy beach area where you can swim and build sand castles. You need to stay within the roped area while swimming, but the area is pretty generous in size.
Swimming at Paris Mountain is open daily from 8 am to 7 pm.
There is no lifeguard on duty, so the area is swim at your own risk, and the park requires appropriate swimsuits. If you do not like ooey-gooey lake bottoms, be sure to bring a pair of water shoes. You will also find wooden loungers located along the beach to relax on, and the area stays partially shaded which is perfect for hot sunny days.
The park does not allow dogs to wade in the water in the swimming area, so keep that in mind if you’re coming down the mountain after a long hike with your furry friends. Also, Canadian Geese like to hang out on the beach sometimes, so I highly recommend shoes.
Music in the Woods
During the late summer and early fall, you will also find Music in the Woods at the outdoor amphitheater space within the park. The Friends of Paris Mountain sponsors this event, and it is so much fun!
You and your kids will be dancing around to a plethora of music, including bluegrass, and indie, and there have previously been appearances by the Greenville Symphony Ensemble. The event is free, though you do have to pay admission costs to get into the park.
Learn more about upcoming shows on the Music in the Woods website.
Special Programs and Events at Paris Mountain
Paris Mountain State Park offers some kid-friendly events and programs that make getting outside tons of fun. There are events like animal scavenger hunts, ranger hikes along the creek, and even hikes with a ranger on the turtle trail. Kids love these because they get to get a little dirty while having fun and learning something new.
See what’s happening soon at the park on the Paris Mountain events website.
Ranger-led Hikes at Paris Mountain State Park
It is definitely a lot more fun to explore nature with a knowledgeable person beside you, who can fill up your little explorers’ inquisitive minds to the brim and who knows the answers to all their curious questions. That’s just what we found on our Ranger-led Creek Hike at Paris Mountain State Park.
Paris Mountain offers guided hikes for families in the summer.
A mom note: We reviewed Paris Mountain State Park’s ranger-led hikes back in 2018. The kids who attended this event back in 2018 still talk about “that time we looked at creek creatures under the microscope.” Their interest, knowledge, and experience with creatures and animals have only increased, yet this hike remains a very fond memory of a truly educational adventure right here in Greenville. If you have the opportunity to attend, we highly recommend it!
I attended with my four children, ages 4, 6, 7, and 9. They all definitely enjoyed themselves and though my 4-year-old was definitely tired of walking after our hike was over, she was able to handle it without being carried. If you attend with younger children, plan to bring a carrier, as the trail is definitely not stroller accessible.
Our guide, Ranger Cathy, did a superb job working with the various ages in our little group. I think all of my children learned something and enjoyed this adventure.
The Hike: So much wildlife to see!
Our hike began at the Picnic Flats parking lot. We made many stops as we walked towards the mountain creek trail to view wildlife and discuss what we could see. We got a spectacular view of a banded water snake in the lake, right next to the shore. As we passed over a bridge we got to see a tiny baby turtle swimming and Ranger Cathy caught a few tiny tadpoles for us to get a closer look at it before she set them back in the water. The hike took us up past a beaver den, and while we didn’t view any beavers because they are nocturnal and sleep during the day, we did get to see many signs of their gnawing on nearby trees.
Before we waded into the creek, Ranger Cathy handed us nets and showed us how to swirl the rocks and dirt around near our nets so that we might stir up little critters to catch.
We caught a few mayfly nymphs, a couple of different kinds of dragonfly nymphs, a snail shell, a dragonfly exoskeleton, and many water striders. The creek was crystal clear and crisp. It was nice and cool on our hot feet, and we absolutely enjoyed our time in the creek. It was a lot of fun to watch the children find critters and bring them to Ranger Cathy to discover what exactly they had found.
Each critter was placed in a bin of creek water, and then we headed up to the park’s lab to examine them more closely under a microscope. Ranger Cathy projected the microscope image onto a large screen, so we could all see the magnified critters together. The neatest part about this was when we looked at the dragonfly nymphs. We could clearly see them breathing as they took in water into their bodies and then let it out.
Want to Go?
More Things to Do at Paris Mountain State Park
Watersports: Canoe, Kayak, and Pedal Boating
During the warmer months, Paris Mountain offers rentals for kayaking, canoeing, and peddle boating on Lake Placid. You can rent a canoe, kayak, or peddle boat Saturday and Sunday from 11 am to 5 pm, but rental is dependent on the weather. Lifejackets are available and required.
Fishing at Paris Mountain
There are some special places to fish in Greenville, South Carolina, Paris Mountain being one of them. Fishing is actually a regularly sought-after activity in the park. People fishing in Lake Placid and North Lake will be happy to find that both lakes have bass, bream, and catfish. You must have a valid SC Fishing License to fish within Paris Mountain State Park.
Looking for more places to fish with kids? Check out our list of 15+ Awesome Places to Fish Near Greenville, SC!
One of my family’s favorite things to do at Paris Mountain is play in the creek. If you travel about a mile into the park to the Sulphur Springs parking area, you will find picnic shelters located by the creek. Here, your kids can wade into the water and play in the shallows while picking up rocks and enjoying the cool mountain water.
There are snakes in the area, so be mindful of where you step. We have only seen harmless watersnakes, but Copperheads are common snakes in SC to run across.
More Places to go Creek Stomping in Upstate, SC
Around Lake Placid, you will find several picnic tables to have lunch with your family. If you can’t find a table (tables get taken pretty quickly during the warmer months and on weekends) a blanket on the ground is a great option.
You can also drive a mile or so up the main road to several picnic shelters throughout the park, one being located at Sulphur Springs Parking where there is a large field and access to play in the creek.
Beside the large parking area located near the Park Center, you will find a playground that is great for kids to climb on. The play area is located next to a huge open field. The open field is perfect for running, playing, kite flying, you name it! There is very little shade in this area, so keep that in mind if you plan to spend some time there.
Things to Know Before Going to Paris Mountain State Park
- Paris Mountain State Park is open from 8 am to 8 pm, daily.
- Admission is $6 per adult; $3.75 per senior; $3.50 per child 6-15. Children 5 and under are free.
- Pets are allowed in the park, on a leash, but are not allowed in cabins, lodging, or in the roped swimming area.
- If you have an All Park Passport for SC State Parks, you can get into the park for free.
- You can also borrow an All Park Passport for SC State Park Pass from your local library. The pass does typically have wait times, but once you obtain a pass, you can access any SC State Park for 7 days.
- Fun Fact: Paris Mountain is a Monadnock, which is a lone mountain that rises out of surrounding flat land.
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