Taking your kiddos on a hike in winter may seem like a crazy feat, but if the unpredictable upstate weather is in your favor it can be one of the best times to go. Cooler temperatures bring broader views, a change of scenery, less sweat, and fewer bugs. It makes hiking the tougher trails just a bit easier and also allows you to choose hikes that offer a view, rather than a water feature, as a payoff – something you wouldn’t opt for in the summer months. Get your camera ready and read on for a list of tips to help you and your little troops make the most of your adventure.
Are you wondering where to go to find some beautiful waterfalls without traveling too far from Greenville, SC? You’re in luck because we have gathered all the information you need about finding waterfalls close to home, all in one handy place! Whether you want to take in a waterfall while enjoying a long hike or a waterfall that you can view with very little effort, local mom Kristina has all the details right here!
Waterfalls can be quite magical and we have so, so many near us in the Upstate. Waterfalls are beautiful any time of year also – surrounded by wildflowers in the spring, framed by greenery over the summer and perfect for swimming, delivering fall colors in autumn, and showing off (some) frozen beauty in winter.
It is incredibly important for your own safety and for the safety of your family, EMTs, and rescuers, to never play at the top or sides of a waterfall, even for a second or to get an Insta-worthy photo. Those rocks are slippery and many people have unfortunately lost their lives at waterfalls in our area.
Below are some of our favorite waterfalls near the Upstate, SC. But, if you love waterfalls you’ll want to take a look at this list ofWaterfalls of the Southeast, loaded with waterfall hikes in South Carolina, North Carolina, Georgia and Tennessee.
Waterfalls in & near Greenville, SC
You don’t have to go far to see the first waterfalls on this list. Pack a picnic, relax on the nearby swings, or take a walk through Falls Park on the Reedy River in downtown Greenville and see the beautiful waterfalls that run right through our beautiful city.
South Main Street and Camperdown Way Greenville, SC Distance from Greenville: 0 minutes – it is located downtown
Raven Cliff Falls
Take the two-mile long Raven Cliff Falls trail to view the gorgeous 420-ft Raven Cliff Falls from an overlook at Caesar’s Head State Park. There are also a variety of hiking trails within that park and the surrounding Mountain Bridge Wilderness.
Or if you’re a more experienced hiker, take the Dismal Trail to get to the suspension bridge that goes over the falls. It’s a tough 8+ mile loop but worth it.
8155 Geer Hwy Cleveland, SC Distance from Greenville: ~hour
Jones Gap State Park
Known for its natural scenery, this 300 acre park is perfect for a relaxing day of exploration – and waterfall viewing of course. One of the more popular trails leads uphill to the stunning Rainbow Falls. It’s a strenuous trail but there are other waterfalls that are along the main trail.
This is a hugely popular park that now requires reserved parking ($5) on weekends in addition to the entrance fee.
303 Jones Gap Road Marietta, SC Distance from Greenville: ~an hour
Station Cove Falls
This waterfall in Oconee County near Hwy 11 is so, so stunning. It’s a big waterfall towering high dripping water from hundreds of small ledges. It’s also a very easy hike, about 1.5 miles round trip.
State Rd S-37-95 Walhalla, SC Distance from Greenville: an hour and 10 minutes
Chau Ram County Park
A little over an hour from Greenville, Chau Ram Park is called South Carolina’s “Best Kept Secret” by the Oconee County Recreation and Tourism Department. There is a 40 foot waterfall at Ramsey Creek plus the county’s longest suspension bridge here. You can also swim, hike and camp, all for only $2 per car load.
1220 Chau Ram Park Road Westminster, SC Distance from Greenville: an hour + 5 minutes
Table Rock State Park
Table Rock contains lots of awesome waterfalls easily accessible from the many trails that wind through this beautiful park. Trails are not stroller-friendly so be sure to either bring a baby carrier if you’ve got a little one or sturdy shoes for the younger kids. There is a fee to enter the park if you don’t have a park pass.
158 Ellison Lane Pickens, SC Distance from Greenville: ~45 minutes
Yellow Branch Falls
Located in Walhalla near Isaqueena Falls, Yellow Branch Falls are amazing. The falls are huge and picturesque and just a beautiful place to visit. This is a popular waterfall and trail so again, get there early if you want to experience it with less people.
This wildly popular waterfall is right on the side of the road off 276 in Pisgah Forest in Brevard. We’ve seen it in every season and our favorite has been over the winter when it’s been partially frozen. No hiking is involved but you can take the stairs and ramps down to the bottom for some great photos.
This one is perfect for smaller kids to splash around in a waterfall without any of the hiking. The waterfall is literally on the side of the road on SC 11 in Cleveland, SC as you drive towards Table Rock from Greenville. There is an easy mile loop trail if you’d like to hike.
Heading north on Route 11, the trail and pull-off parking are on the right side of the road.
SC 11 Cleveland, SC Distance from Greenville: ~38 minutes
Located in Oconee County, Issaqueena Falls is located at the end of a short walk through what is known as Stumphouse Tunnel, which was originally constructed in 1852 to connect Charleston to Knoxville but was halted because of a lack of money.
As for the waterfalls, “legend has it that the falls is named for an Indian maiden, Issaqueena, who warning the white settlers of an Indian attack, was then chased by Indians and she appeared to jump over the falls. By actually hiding behind the falls (or some legend-tellers say she hid behind a stump, hence Stumphouse Tunnel), she tricked her pursuers and survived.”
Hwy 28 Walhalla, SC Distance from Greenville: an hour + 10 minutes
Wright Creek Falls
This is an extra special waterfall since you can only get there by boat. It’s on Lake Jocassee and you can access the lake through Devils Fork State Park. Here’s a map of the waterfalls at this stunning lake. There is a fee to enter the park.
161 Holcombe Circle Salem, SC Distance from Greenville: Devils Fork Park is an hour + 20 minutes plus another hour to 90 minutes of paddling (or take a boat through Jocassee Lake Rentals)
This family-friendly hike is located near Mountain Rest, SC, close to the Georgia border. The hike to the falls is an easy 0.3-mile hike, so it is perfect for families with small children. Once there, you can check out salamanders and small fish in the pools and discover the falls towering above!
Spoonauger Falls Near Mountain Rest, SC Ellicott Rock Wilderness Distance from Greenville: 1 hour 55 minutes from Downtown Greenville.
Rainbow Falls at Gorges State Park
This is a different Rainbow Falls than at Jones Gap. You’ll have to travel into NC to see this beauty! If you’re lucky, you’ll get to the see the rainbow that gives it its name. The hike is a moderate 4 mile roundtrip hike.
Gorges State Park 976 Grassy Ridge Road, Sapphire, NC Distance from Greenville: 90 minutes
Our huge guide to waterfalls of the southeast tells you all about waterfalls you can hike to in the Georgia mountains, South Carolina, North Carolina, and Tennessee. They make a beautiful day trip or addition to a family getaway.
Are you looking for a place to hike in Pickens, SC, then Nine Times Preserve is one of the places you should check out! Nestled on the edge of the Blue Ridge Mountains with over 500 acres of protected land and 134 species of native wildflowers to encounter, who can resist this nature preserve? Find out about this nature preserve and how to get there.
There is so much to see and do in Pickens County, South Carolina! We’ve discovered another place to explore with your family no matter the season! If you love hiking trails and hidden gems – we’ve got a perfect place to check out. You might even come across a flower that is thought to only exist in the Upstate!
Looking for a great hike to enjoy with your family near Greenville, SC? Check out our Guide to Hiking in the Upstate! You’re sure to find a new hike to try that’s just right for your family. This is your new go-to guide for hiking in Upstate, SC.
Planning some mom time and in need of kid-friendly things to do with Dads in Greenville, SC? We’re here to help with some Kidding Around and reader-tested ideas. Here’s a list of some of our favorite places in Greenville that would be perfect for Dad to enjoy with the kids. We have lots of free ideas and some low-cost options, too!
Have you visited Caesars Head State Park for hiking, picnics, site-seeing, and more? Dramatic views over the Upstate along with easy access and ample parking make for a winning combination at one of our favorite South Carolina State Parks – Caesars Head! Here’s everything you need to know!
About the Caesars Head State Park Area
Caesars Head and Jones Gap State Park form the 11,000-acre Mountain Bridge Wilderness Area, and are connected by several hiking trails including the popular Rim of the Gap Trail and Jones Gap Trail. Less than a mile from the Caesars Head Visitor Center is another favorite trail – Raven Cliff Falls Trail, which takes you to a platform that looks across the gorge at the 420-foot waterfall.
Trails in both Caesars Head and Jones Gape State Park range from easy to strenuous hiking.
Gorgeous Views Without the Hiking: Caesars Head State Park
However, you can get the grand panoramic views without the hike by heading to the Visitor Center, which is only a couple hundred feet from the parking lot to the overlook. This time of year you’ll probably meet members of the Hawk Watch program documenting the annual hawk migration; the past few years the numbers of hawks counted peaked a little after mid-September, while large numbers of turkey vultures were seen into November.
Bald eagles and even peregrine falcons can be seen during these months! To get an idea of how the migration is progressing this year, check the daily tallies; those can be viewed on the Hawk Count website. Also, see our article on the Hawk Watch at Caesars Head for additional information and educational resources.
Fall Foliage at Caesars Head
Autumn is a great time to visit for another reason, as the fall foliage in the foothills can be spectacular while cooler temperatures allow for increased visibility. Views extend over Table Rock Reservoir all the way to North Carolina and Georgia. Remember to bring layers, as it is often 10 degrees cooler on Caesars Head than it is down in Greenville and Greenville County.
From the overlook don’t forget to walk the trail around to view “Caesar’s Head” in profile! The trail descends through “Devil’s Kitchen,” a crack in the granitic gneiss rock, and circles around to a viewing area from the side of the outcrop.
If you cross US 276 from the Visitor Center you’ll find the trailhead for Frank Coggins Trail, which mostly serves as a connector to many of the Mountain Bridge Wilderness Area trails, but is also an easy hike in a less crowded section of Caesars Head.
Amenities at the State Park include restrooms, picnic tables and the Visitor Center, which houses exhibits, hawk displays, and a variety of souvenirs. For those looking for a longer hike, or reservations at one of the 18 backcountry campsites, check in at the Visitor Center for trail maps and information.
Fishing at Caesar’s Head
You can fish for brook, rainbow and brown trout in the Middle Saluda River, as well as Matthews and Julian Creeks.
Plan your own trip to Caesar’s Head
Directions: From Greenville take Hwy. 276 W for about 30 miles. The parking lot and Visitor Center is located at the top of the mountain, 3 miles before the North Carolina border.
Hours and Admission: Trail access cost: $3 adults; $1.50 SC seniors; $1 ages 6-15, ages 5 and younger are free
Days and Hours of Operation: 9 am – 9 pm, daily during daylight saving time. 9 am – 6 pm, daily, the remainder of the year. Trails close one hour before dark, year-round.
Visitor Center Hours: 10 am – 5 pm Monday – Thursday and 9 am – 5 pm Friday – Sunday. The Visitor Center and gift shop are closed on Thanksgiving and Christmas Day, however, the park remains open on these days.
Pets are allowed in most outdoor areas provided they are kept under physical restraint or on a leash not longer than six feet. Owners will be asked to remove noisy or dangerous pets or pets that threaten or harass wildlife.
Some of my earliest memories as a kid were hiking with my family. It became a fun activity as my brothers and I got older and we got to pick out where we would go and which trails we would explore. I was banned from being the guide when I led us around in circles in the woods and eventually ended up on some unknown road (before GPS). Thankfully it’s pretty hard to get lost nowadays and hiking is still a favorite activity of mine. Because Greenville is so awesome, there are tons of great parks in the area to enjoy the outdoors, burn off some energy, pack a picnic and make a day of it.
When hiking, be sure to be considerate of other hikers, don’t leave trash on the trail, always keep animals leashed, don’t climb around waterfalls or allow kids to play near them as the rocks are and can be slippery and hazardous, and wear proper shoes (like not flip-flops or heels – I’ve seen people wear these when “hiking”), and be aware of your surroundings and wildlife like snakes and birds. For important tips on recreating responsibly, please see this story on the seven Leave No Trace principles.
One thing to note is that since the pandemic hit in March 2020, getting outdoors has now become a thing. National Parks, forests, and state parks are all reporting record-high numbers, which means many of our favorite trails are packed, which is pretty much the opposite of what we have been urged to do by medical professionals (although most agree that being outdoors is a good choice in these trying times). Because we live in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, and with literally hundreds of miles of hiking trails nearby, it’s truly not that hard to find less traveled trails. We made this Instagram short story on the All Trails app to show you how to search for less-trafficked trails. You can also join local hiking pages or just do your own research online or ask friends who are avid hikers. Happy Trails!
If you are looking for a fun outing in the great outdoors while taking in history, then the Musgrove Mill State Historic Site is the place! Learning about history doesn’t have to be boring, it can be an adventure! Local mom Maria took her kids to Musgrove Mill State Historic Site and is sharing her experience with us. This beautiful outdoor destination includes lots of territory to explore plus American history to share with your family.
On a hot, humid day on August 19, 1780, 200 Patriot militia defeated over 500 Loyalist troops at the Battle of Musgrove Mill. Today you can visit the beautiful Musgrove Mill State Historic Site to walk the steps of the patriot force and militiamen. If you do, you’ll also enjoy a beautiful, wooded hike alongside a clear, clean creek, and waterfall.
Our Day at Musgrove Mill State Historic Site
You’ll want to begin your visit at the Visitor’s Center, where park rangers will play a short audio presentation about the battle, accompanied by a map with lighted markers, which will give your family a birds-eye view of the movement of both patriot and loyalist troops.
Hiking trails to choose from
Then you’ll need to choose to hike one of Musgrove Mill’s two trails. Will it be the one-mile hike to the loyalist camp along the Enoree River? Or will it be the 1.3-mile battlefield trail beginning at Horseshoe Falls along Cedar Shoals Creek? My family is studying the American Revolutionary War this fall and have visited several Southern Campaign battlefields, so we decided to follow the battlefield trail. We were not disappointed!
Hikers will find the camp trail at the end of the Visitor Center parking lot, but if your family decides to visit the falls and the battlefield trail, you’ll need to get back in your car and drive about three miles to cross the Enoree River and get to the park’s other parking lot. The ranger at the Visitor Center will provide you with a map!
You can also follow the road signs for Horseshoe Falls. When you arrive at the trailhead, you will find a gravel parking lot and sign, just before the metal bridge that crosses the creek.
The Battlefield Trail at Musgrove Mill
The battlefield trail begins with a couple of hundred yards of concrete, a wheelchair-accessible trail that takes you to Horseshoe Falls. Hikers of the battlefield trail will continue on past the falls, where the trail is no longer paved. The battlefield trail is a 1.3-mile loop, with frequent signage that describes the backcountry’s role in the Revolutionary War, the key players in the Battle of Musgrove Mill, and takes you step by step through the battle.
Walking through the Revolutionary War sites
You’ll walk the soldiers’ path to the ridge where the outnumbered patriot militia waited to attack the loyalists. Of the Revolutionary War sites my family has visited, these signs were the easiest for my children to understand. My 8-year-old was able to read the majority of them aloud to the rest of us, and the pictures were clear and helpful. It was wonderful to gain a clear understanding and appreciation for what happened that day on the exact ridge upon which we stood.
Hiking the Battlefield Trail with young children
The battlefield hike does have some hills, but our little group didn’t find it too difficult. My 5-year-old was able to hike it without any difficulty, and my 3-year-old needed a piggyback ride for just the last bit of the loop. For young children, a carrier backpack would be helpful.
On our hike back to the car, we stopped at Horseshoe Falls to enjoy the waterfall and have a snack before heading for home. The nature-loving, rock skipping, critter hunting little ones among you will love exploring the edge of the sandy pool at the bottom of the falls.
More Things to Do at Musgrove Mill
Take a hike on the Palmetto Trail through the Blackstocks Battlefield, a moderately difficult hike with a 1.5-mile loop. This trail goes through the grounds of the Revolutionary War Battle of Blackstocks that occurred on November 20, 1780.
Fish on the Enoree River! You will need a SC fishing license, but the park does participate in the Tackle Loaner Program. Just pick up a loaner rod and reel from the park office.
Canoe or kayak down the Enoree River. There is a launch site at the park.
Have a picnic! There are a couple of shelters on site that are first come first serve, but a big blanket and basket will do the trick.
This place is bird heaven! If you love birdwatching or want to incorporate an Ecology lesson into your trip, then you will be happy to know that there are 30+ species of birds that you can see year-round or seasonally, including Great Horned Owls, Wild Turkeys, Great Blue Herons, and dozens more.
The Horseshoe Falls and battlefield trail is open from 9 am to 6 pm daily. The gate to the visitor center and the camp trail is open 9 am – 6 pm daily. The visitor center is open 10 am – 5 pm Friday through Sunday, and 10 am – 4 pm Monday through Monday- Thursday. We went on a Monday morning and there were two very helpful staff members at the Visitor’s Center.
There is a small fee for admission since it is part of the SC State Park system. However, if you have an SC State Park pass, it’s free. The SC State Parks website has more information and directions to the Battle of Musgrove Mill State Historic Site.
Curious to learn about the battle before you go? Check out this site, which gives an overview of the battle.
We hope you love your hike through a bit of American history. If you enjoy the trip, you’ll be happy to know that there are many state and national parks at the site of Revolutionary War battles in the upstate and throughout South Carolina. The SC State Parks Revolutionary War History page offers an excellent overview of the war in South Carolina and links to sites you can visit today!
Would your kids enjoy a historical field trip to Musgrove Mill State Historic Site?
Have you visited Givhans Ferry State Park or the surrounding Edisto River area? KAG contributor Liene explored the Lowcountry, including the Edisto River area and Givhans Ferry State Park, as a correspondent to the South Carolina 7 Wonders expedition. What she found is that not only is the Edisto deserving of the title 5th Wonder of South Carolina, but together with the surrounding area makes a unique destination for a family weekend in the Lowcountry!
Local mom Bethany Winston reviews the Reedy Creek Park, Nature Center, and Preserves in Charlotte, North Carolina. This free day-trip destination includes a treehouse-themed playground, hiking, and an indoor nature center.
Recently, my family discovered an amazing nature center and preserve about 6 miles northwest of downtown Charlotte: Reedy Creek Nature Center and Preserve located inside the large Reedy Creek Park. This county-owned park was completely free, including parking. While there might not be an admission fee, don’t make the mistake of thinking that means that this nature center is not worth the drive from Greenville.
Find a place to stay near Reedy Creek. This article contains Stay22 affiliate links.
Family-Friendly Things to Do at Reedy Creek Park
Reedy Creek Park has three playgrounds that we discovered. The first playground was on our left almost immediately after entering the park. It’s a large playground with plenty of slides, ramps, and ladders. The play structures were not particularly high and I think even smaller children would enjoy it as long as they are comfortable climbing short ladders.
There was little shade on this playground and it was hot on the day we visited so my kids chose not to play long, but it was a large, interesting playground and I’m sure would have been a completely different experience if we had visited earlier in the day or during a cooler season of the year.
Adjacent to the playground, we also found basketball courts and picnic shelters. There was also a rather large dog park on our right before we reached the playground.
Just a little bit farther up the road, we found the parking lot for the Reedy Creek Nature Center. This area of the park was wooded (quite a relief due to the heat).
Outside the Reedy Creek Nature Center, we found a second playground that felt like a hidden magical world tucked away in the forest. The playground included natural-themed play structures such as artificial tree stumps and the main focal structure was a treehouse complete with a bridge. My kids played for a good hour on this playground and probably would have been content to spend the day on it.
Later in our day, we drove up to the third playground which was beside a lake. This “playground” only had a couple of swings and a volleyball court, but it was an easy walk down to a beautiful lake with a fishing pier. We saw several families picnicking and fishing in this area.
Reedy Creek Nature Center
The Nature Center was small but it was free and even better air-conditioned. Inside the Nature Center, our children were able to look at animals and small science displays. We also found a quiet area for pretend play where our children could dress up as rangers and play in a pretend campsite.
The room had a couple of rocking chairs for adults too. It was very quiet on the day we visited and we had the spot to ourselves. Our kids had a lot of fun and didn’t want to leave even after a long playtime.
Hiking at Reedy Creek Park
After a long day of fun (we had already spent hours at Discovery Place in downtown Charlotte) our kids were too tired and hot for us to dare attempt sustained hiking, but the map showed several easy hikes on the preserve that we hope to try on another day.
One hike lead to a historic site and was only an hour’s walk. The grounds also had butterfly gardens, bird feeders, streams, vast wooded areas, and lakes. We were able to obtain a free map from the Nature Center so that we could still take a short stroll. The trail system was clearly marked and it was possible to take both short walks along the trails and longer hikes.
Tips for Your Visit
If you visit on a hot day, be sure to pack sunscreen and bug spray. While the preserve does have a lot of shade, there are several open spaces with little shade.
Plan plenty of time if you want to get the full experience. The preserve alone is over 900 acres of woods. Fortunately, the park does have a decent road system and multiple parking lots, so you can drive to the parts of the park in this article if you are short on time or if your children are tired (like us).
Don’t forget your fishing supplies. The park has two fishing lakes. Visitors over 16 must have a fishing license.
The Nature Center has a gift shop for those who would like to purchase souvenirs.
Bikers will find plenty of bike-friendly areas but are limited to the gravel trails and paved roads.
Hummingbird Festival at Reedy Creek Nature Center
Each August, a hummingbird festival is held at the Reedy Creek Nature Center. It includes bird banding, science experiments, bird hikes, art vendors, and storytelling sessions. The events are held throughout the week, and some require pre-registration. The front desk at the Nature Center recommended coming early to see the most hummingbirds.
About the Reedy Creek Nature Center & Preserve
Reedy Creek Park, Nature Center, and Preserve 2900 Rocky River Rd. Charlotte, NC 980.314.1119