If you have a child in your life who likes to ask “What’s that?” you might want to check out the ranger-led hikes at Paris Mountain State Park, Greenville, SC. We found the hike to be educational and exciting and think your family will too! Learn more about the Ranger-led hikes and when you can take one of your own. Plus you can find out more about Paris Mountain State Park in our article about the park.
We reviewed Paris Mountain State Park’s ranger-led hikes back in 2018 and we updated this review with current 2022 dates and information. 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!
My family loves the outdoors. We like to hike and explore everything from the tiniest bugs to plants and animals. I love my children’s inquisitive nature, but often I simply don’t know the answer to many of their inevitable questions. “What’s that?” “What does that eat?” The more children learn, the tougher those questions get. “How does that breathe?” “Does it lay eggs?” “How long does it live?” We try to find our answers in books, but that doesn’t always work.
It is definitely a lot more fun to have a knowledgeable person beside you, who can fill up my 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.
Guided Hikes at Paris Mountain State Park
Paris mountain offers guided hikes for families in the summer. The hikes begin at 10 am and last about 2 hours.
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 checked in and wrote name tags. Then our guide led the way towards the lake, along the shore, and then up towards the mountain creek trail.
We made many stops as we walked 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. He hung around long enough for everyone in our group to get a good look at him. 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.
As we got closer to the creek we stopped at the park’s show storage shed where those of us who didn’t have water shoes could borrow some for our creek walk, and then we resumed course for the creek. Benches near the creek made for an easy shoe change into our water shoes. Some folks decided to go without the water shoes and didn’t seem to mind the rocky bottom. The creek is only ankle deep, and I was fine just wearing beach-style flip-flops.
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 may fly 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 after a quick shoe change, 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.
Our time in the lab concluded our ranger-led hike at around noon. That was just the perfect timing to follow our hike up with a picnic lunch. Since the hike began at Picnic Flats parking lot, we left our picnic in a cooler in the car and picked it up after the hike. This worked out wonderfully for my family and was a great end to our time at Paris Mountain.
Thank you very much to Paris Mountain State Park for allowing us to review this program. We love learning through experiencing the world, and this ranger-led hike was right up our alley. This hike is a great way for families to go on an adventure together without going too far from home. It is also a great way for home-schooled students, like mine, to experience the educational programming the park has to offer.
Want to Go?
- The Creek Ranger Hike takes place at 10 am on July 22, 2022, July 29, 2022, and August 5, 2022.
- All programs begin at the Picnic Flats lot and last approximately 2 hours.
- Each person costs $5, plus park admission.
- Register for the Creek Ranger Hike online.
- Visit the Paris Mountain State Park website here.
Would your family enjoy a ranger-led hike at Paris Mountain?
For even more hiking ideas see our list of best hikes near Greenville!