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Posts Tagged ‘Hiking’

10 Upstate Hikes that Are Perfect for Teens

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Are you looking for fun or adventurous hiking for teens in Greenville, SC? Here’s our list of great hikes for teens in or near Upstate, SC! Some are challenging and some a bit more relaxed, perfect for a day with friends or family. Plus, there are plenty of trails with gorgeous views that are perfect for the ‘gram. For even more hiking ideas see our list of our favorite local hiking trails.

hiking teens greenville, sc

There are so many great hiking trails in the Upstate or nearby, it’s truly hard to choose where to go. Luckily, the weather here can lend itself to hiking all year round for the most part, which means lots of weekends to take the teens out on adventures.


10 Things You Need When Hiking with Kids

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If you’re out hiking with kids anywhere in the Upstate, SC – or anywhere actually – we’ve got a list of 10 things you may want to consider carrying with you.

Our area boasts literally hundreds of miles of trails, from an easy stroll to strenuous trails up mountaintops. Lots of these trails are perfect for kids and I’ve come to really enjoy hiking with my family, rarely hitting the same trails twice because there are just so many to choose from. I’ve been hiking with my youngest from the time she was just three months old and strapped to me in a baby carrier (she’s eight now) and time in nature is something that has become almost a weekly ritual for us.  There has been a lot I’ve had to learn, including what to carry with me when we hike.

Hiking Grandfather Mountain

Nature Equals Adventure

I wasn’t always so interested in hiking with my kids though. In fact, I didn’t even know much about all the wonderful outdoor adventures on our doorsteps here in the Upstate when I chose to move here. What an awesome surprise! I started hiking just a handful of times a year with my two kids and then added more and more hikes every year, learning something new every time. Now it’s an adventure I take with my two kids that we all enjoy and love. 

If you’re thinking of getting started hiking with your kids, we have a big Newbie Guide to Hiking, which you may want to take a look at first. And, the places in this post on hiking trails with young children are great for kids. Start with easy trails and be careful not to overestimate your – and your kids’ – abilities and get in a situation that you aren’t prepared for.

But what do you bring with you? That’s what I’m going to cover here. Most seasoned hikers will tell you to bring the “Ten Essentials” – wise advice. These essentials vary a bit and I’ll add some to this list but will also incorporate what I’ve learned in my years of hiking experience as well. 

Winter hike

10 Things to Take With You When Hiking with Kids

#1 Water

Don’t forget the water, especially in the summer. Getting dehydrated should not be on your to-do list. Make sure all the tops of the water bottles are closed tight and aren’t leaking into your backpack (I’ve learned the hard way on this one). In cases of emergency, I also carry a LifeStraw, a straw with a personal water filter you can use and drink safely from streams or other water sources. 

#2 Snacks

Snacks on hikes are vital. They almost made it to the top spot in this list. Kids are whining? Give them a snack. Kids complaining they are tired? Give them a snack. You want your kids to make it to the waterfall? Bribe them with a snack. 

#3 First Aid Kit

I always have carried band aids with me but have since added more to my little portable First Aid Kit – namely an antibacterial wipes, hand sanitizer, Neosporin, and After Bite to deal with stings (this is the product I’ve used the most). 

#4 Sunscreen

We do a lot of hiking and swimming in the summer and carrying extra sunscreen is important. 

#5 Map

I always screenshot a map of the trail I’m planning to hike on my phone and then will take a photo of the map, if available, at the trailhead, if I don’t have a hard copy. This is especially key in more remote places that are less traveled. I used the AllTrails app but really love Gaia as it’s usually more accurate.

#6 Trash bag

I always carry a plastic grocery bag we use for trash, both ours and the trash we find on the trail. Pack out what you pack in – a big part of the Leave No Trace principles. If you have a kid in diapers, take those diapers out of the forest with you and dispose in a trash can. Same with dog waste – it’s not ok to leave waste on trails or in trash bags on trails.

#7 Flashlight or headlamp

I’ve never had to use this on a hike but always carry it just in case. In our area, it’s not uncommon to read local news stories about people getting lost in the woods, especially over the summer since more people are out on the trails then. 

#8 Pepper spray or some kind of protection

I’ve never had to use this but after an alarming number of loose dog encounters, I now carry both pepper spray and a small, handheld zapper. A lot of people like to carry bear spray in the off chance of an encounter with aggressive wildlife. 

#9 Rain poncho

Getting caught in rain, especially if it’s cold or when a chance storm hits, isn’t fun. Keeping kids protected with lightweight rain gear is a good idea. 

#10 Fire starter

Bring matches and something to use for tinder (dryer lint works great) in case you need it. 

Some other suggestions that may be helpful are a knife, a plastic tarp you could use as a makeshift shelter, and extra socks. If you’ve got a baby with you, be sure to bring extra diapers and wipes.

Happy trails!

7 Amazing Winter Hikes for Families Near Greenville, SC

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Does your family love to go hiking? If you are looking for hiking near Greenville this winter, you’ve come to the right spot! Here’s where to go hiking around Greenville this winter and what to bring.

For even more hiking suggestions see our Full Guide to Hiking in Greenville.

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.

This article includes:
Winter Hiking: What you’ll see
Choosing a Winter Hike
What to Bring on a Winter Hike
What to Wear on a Winter Hike
7 Perfect Winter Hikes Near Greenville, SC
Spanish Translation of the Article


Stunning Views With No Hiking at Bald Rock Heritage Preserve Near Greenville, SC

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Views from Bald Rock Heritage Preserve, under an hour from Greenville, SC, are reason enough to visit this beautiful spot. Here’s what you need to know to visit this pretty place. 

I can’t remember exactly when I discovered Bald Rock. Maybe it was when I was curious as to why lots of cars were randomly parked on the side of the road heading up to Caesars Head State Park. I imagine that may be how a lot of people discover this place. 

It’s certainly a unique place and one that takes hardly any effort in order to experience a breathtaking view of Greenville and Table Rock. 

Bald Rock near Greenville

Bald Rock Heritage Preserve

Bald Rock Heritage Preserve, a land that stretches 165 acres, is actually managed by the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources and is part of the Mountain Bridge Wilderness. There aren’t any signs that indicate where it is along the road but it’s easy to pull up on Google maps and it’s about five miles south of Caesars Head State Park. 

Once you park at the pull-off, it’s a short, easy walk to beautiful views. There’s a small wooden bridge next to garbage cans that you walk across and then up the granite, which opens to wide, beautiful views of the Carolina foothills.

There are pockets of granite that my kids like to think were made for them since they fit perfectly in many of these holes carved out by years of weather. There are also two headwater streams that run through the preserve, which provide an environment for rare fauna and flora.

There aren’t really hiking trails at the preserve but there is plenty of space for a picnic and to walk around the huge outcropping and explore the area near the streams in the woods.

Clean Up Efforts

The large rock outcropping has been vandalized with graffiti and excessive amounts of trash for the last several years, unfortunately. We always advocate following the seven principles of Leave No Trace when you enjoy the outdoors and it’s a sad sight when people leave a beautiful place much worse than when they found it. 

The Friends of Bald Rock, a volunteer-based organization that started in 2021, has led substantial clean-up efforts for the preserve. They’ve hosted several days of community-wide litter clean-ups and provided power washers to start removing the graffiti. On one day of cleaning up the preserve in October 2022, the volunteers collected more than 300 pounds of litter. 

They still have a long ways to go because the preserve has been so trashed in recent years (which isn’t the first place to be a victim of this kind of disrespect, unfortunately). People have had illegal fires, dumped entire cars off the rock outcropping, and strewn the area with broken glass and beer cans. 

If you’d like to help in the clean-up efforts, sign up for the email newsletter that Friends of Bald Rock sends out and see their calendar of upcoming volunteer events.

Fireworks, drugs, graffiti, alcohol, littering, and campfires are all illegal and perpetrators can be fined up to $465. If you see anyone defacing Bald Rock or using drugs, alcohol, shooting off fireworks, or the like, you can report them by calling 1.800.922.5431.

Enjoying the Preserve

My kids and I really love Bald Rock Preserve and usually stop there if we are hiking in the area. It’s always worth the stop to enjoy the views. We’ve taken our hammocks up there multiple times to read and even do our homeschool work. 

Hammocks at Bald Rock

Parents do need to be cautious about broken glass though. While clean-up efforts are on-going, there is still broken glass around, especially in the forested areas and even on the rock outcropping where people have had illegal campfires. 

Camping isn’t allowed by the way.

Pets are allowed at Bald Rock Preserve but must be kept on a leash. The preserve is open sunrise to sunset because of the vandalism. You don’t get a direct view of either the sunrise or the sunset but you will be able to see some beautiful landscapes.

Activities Near Bald Rock

Bald Rock Heritage Preserve is very close to Caesars Head State Park, which has miles and miles of hiking trails like the moderate Raven Cliff Falls hike and the Dismal-Naturaland-Gum Gap strenuous hike. The overlook at Caesars Head State Park is nearby as well and in the fall you can see the migration of hawks.

It is also near Wildcat Wayside Falls, Table Rock State Park, and Jones Gap State Park. Table Rock and Jones Gap have many miles of trails like the hard Table Rock Summit Trail and the moderately difficult Rainbow Falls Trail at Jones Gap.

Table Rock Summit
Table Rock Summit

If you’re headed to Pretty Place at YMCA Camp Greenville from Greenville, Bald Rock is on your way up there so it’s an easy stop. Additionally, Sassafras Mountain isn’t too far away. This beautiful spot is the highest point in South Carolina and you can drive right up to it and take a short walk to the platform. Fun fact: the platform splits North Carolina and South Carolina so you can literally stand in two states at one time.

Getting to Bald Rock Heritage Preserve 

To get to Bald Rock from Greenville, take Highway 11 to Geer Highway and go about 2.8 miles. The pull-off to the preserve will be on your right. There is usually a guy selling honey at a small table there. The preserve is about five minutes from Wildcat Wayside waterfall and five miles from Caesars Head State Park. 

If you type in “Bald Rock Heritage Preserve” into a map, it will come up and give you directions. It’s a very popular place so you’ll see a lot of cars parked there during most times of the year.

Bald Rock Heritage Preserve
6600 Geer Highway, Cleveland, SC 29635

Find the Most Jaw-Dropping Waterfalls Near Greenville, SC

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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. I got to see Niagara Falls in person several years ago and it was amazing, even more so than any photo I had ever seen of it. While we don’t have anything quite as grand here, Greenville does boast lots of beautiful waterfalls in the area. Why not pick a few local waterfalls to visit this summer (and take your camera to capture the magic!)?

Please, for your own safety and for the safety of your family, EMTs, and rescuers, 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.

Also, if you happen to just love waterfalls like we do and are looking for opportunities to keep them clean and pristine, look into volunteering with Waterfall Keepers of North Carolina. For important tips on recreating responsibly, please see this story on the seven Leave No Trace principles.

Below are some of our favorite waterfalls near Greenville, SC. But, if you love waterfalls you’ll want to take a look at this list of Waterfalls of the Southeast, loaded with waterfall hikes in South Carolina, North Carolina, Georgia and Tennessee.

Waterfalls in & near Greenville, SC

Falls Park

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

Waterfall at Falls Park in downtown Greenville.

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

View of Raven Cliff Falls with fall foliage.

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

People sitting near the base of Station Cove Falls.
Station Cove Falls

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.

2911-3023 Highlands Hwy
Walhalla, SC

Distance from Greenville: ~an hour + 10 minutes

Yellow Branch Falls

Wildcat Wayside

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

Waterfall at wildcat Wayside.
Wildcat Wayside

Beech Bottom Falls

The trail to Beech Bottom Falls will take your family across a footbridge straight out of a fairytale, to a viewing platform overlooking a beautiful waterfall. The trail is located in Sunset, SC near Sassafras Mountain.

Beech Bottom Falls and Viewing Platform
Beech Bottom Falls

Issaqueena Falls

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.”

And be sure to read KAG contributor Deidre Smith’s review of Stumphouse Tunnel and Issaqeena Falls.

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)

Wright Creek Falls
Wright Creek Falls

If you’re looking for even more waterfalls, because really, who isn’t, then head over to our article on the North Carolina no-hike waterfall tour.

Find More Waterfalls to Explore!

We have a huge guide of Waterfalls all over the South East!

Waterfalls in GA, NC, SC and TN

Did we miss your favorite waterfall?  If so, please use the comments to share your best spot!

Ultimate Guide to the Sapphire Valley (AKA Land of the Waterfalls) Cashiers, NC

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Have you visited Cashiers, NC? There are so many family adventures waiting in Sapphire Valley. It’s one of our favorite places to visit with awesome places to hike, play, and eat. Go ahead and consult your calendar, because you will want to plan your trip once you read about this North Carolina gem.

This article includes:
About the Land of the Waterfalls
Things to do in Cashiers, NC
Seasonal Fun in Cashiers
Where to Eat in Cashiers, NC
Where to Stay in Cashiers, NC
Where to Shop in Cashiers, NC

Looking for more places to spend the day with your family? Here’s our list of Day Trip Towns, just a short drive from the Upstate.

The Sapphire Valley. Even the name was beautiful. My family’s first family vacation once we moved to Greenville was to the Sapphire Valley and it was more than I ever hoped it would be. Family vacations aren’t really vacations when you have kids, right? It’s more like parenting, just in a different place and with less sleep. But this trip was so awesome and relaxing despite the lack of our usual sleep routine. It was filled with adventure, waterfalls, good food, stunning beauty, and a feeling that we experienced a little bit of heaven. Since that trip, I’ve gone back many times, whether for another family trip, day trips, and weekend excursions.

The Sapphire Valley and Cashiers, NC is one of those true hidden gems, a small mountain town that consists of a handful of shops and restaurants and leaves the rest up to nature. I’ll tell you all about where to hike, where to stay, where to eat, and seasonal activities so you can hopefully plan your own family’s adventure to this little slice of heaven.

Schoolhouse Falls

Find a place to stay near the Sapphire Valley. This article contains Stay22 affiliate links.

About the Land of Waterfalls

The Sapphire Valley and Cashiers, NC is nicknamed the “Land of Waterfalls” because, well, it is. There are hundreds of waterfalls in the area due to the mountainous terrain and many of them don’t involve long hikes. If you’re into long hikes, don’t worry, there are definitely places to do that here. And if you’re looking for a more family-friendly adventure, there are plenty of places to do that, too.

Cashiers, NC sits 3,487 feet above sea level right near the Eastern Continental Divide. Highway 64 is the main road that goes through it and into Highlands to the West or to Rosman and Brevard to the East. It’s a really small town, only 2,500 people most of the year, which bumps up to 10,000 during the summer months. The town is so cute, too, with a beautiful park, the Village Green, a little hiking store, some clothing shops, a farmers market, and events throughout the year, including a wonderful Christmas parade.

Being so high in the mountains, Cashiers is almost always 10 to 15 degrees cooler than the foothills, which is so refreshing during the summer especially. When you pack, keep that in mind and bring an extra jacket or sweater.

What to do in the Cashiers area

Cashiers is wonderful for all kinds of activities or for doing nothing at all. You can paddleboard, swim, hike, practice photography, eat, ski, snow tube, or just cozy up by a fireplace and read a book. I’ll tell you about most of these activities here.

Hiking in Cashiers

Let’s start with hiking. I’ve done a lot of trails in this area and I’ll give you the rundown of what to expect for each one here.

Whiteside Mountain

This two-mile loop is about 13 minutes from the center of Cashiers and oh my gosh, what a view. Be sure to go clockwise or you’ll be going up a lot of steps. The reason I love this hike is that for the backend of it, you have mountain views the whole way. You are walking along the mountain ridge with steel ropes. Just watch your kids and if you go during the winter months, this could be a very slippery hike (that I wouldn’t recommend). Also note that you have to pay a $3 fee at the parking lot so bring cash or you can use your phone to pay via a QR code.

Whiteside Mountain

Silver Run Falls

This isn’t necessarily a hike. It’s more like a five-minute trek through the woods to a beautiful waterfall with a swimming hole. The water is really cold but feels awesome on a hot day and it’s only five minutes from the center of Cashiers on the left hand side of the road. The pull off only fits about five cars.

Glen Falls

Glen Falls is about 25 minutes south of Cashiers and is a 2.5 mile round trip hike. It’s easy on the way down and there are several overlooks to view the massive waterfall. The hike to the bottom gets you to a small sandy beach, perfect for a picnic and rest since you’ll have to hike all the way back up!

Black Balsam

l had been wanting to get to Black Balsam for years and finally made it. Oh boy, it was worth it. You get 360 degree views of the Blue Ridge Mountains. It’s right near Graveyard Fields (also a great hiking spot with waterfalls) and Devils Courthouse. It’s about an hour from Cashiers and the hike is a moderate one, going uphill in the beginning and then downhill on your way back to the car. It’s only about 1.5 miles total and kid-friendly. We saw so many kids climbing all the rocks and loving it. Get there early during weekends especially as this is a popular hike and it gets crowded. If there isn’t parking there, head up the road a bit to park at the lot at the end of the road and hike to Sam Knob, which is also an amazing 2.5 mile hike.

Black Balsam

High Falls

There are two trailheads to High Falls – one is the short but steep 1.4 mile roundtrip trail from the Pines Recreation Area at Lake Glenville and the other is a steadier and longer at around 4 miles long. High Falls is beautiful either way but be sure to stay off the rocks around the waterfall and check to make sure the dam isn’t being released when you go. It’s amazing to see but you need to make sure you are out of the way downstream since the trickle of the waterfall turns into a powerful churn.

High Falls

Devils Courthouse

Go here in the spring for a possible look at the peregrine falcons that will sometimes nest on the ridge. The overlook is on the Blue Ridge Parkway and the hike is straight up but it’s not too far, just a half mile or so. The top is gorgeous and you can see both sunrises and sunsets from here.

Schoolhouse Falls

Located in the Panthertown Valley, Schoolhouse Falls is a beautiful spot. Park at the Panthertown Trailhead off Cold Mountain Road and take the pink blazed trail to Little Green Trail and you will hear the waterfall. Cross the boardwalk and you are there. It is one of my favorite waterfalls and an easy 2.5 mile roundtrip hike. You’ll gain some elevation on the way back as you hike back up switchbacks to your car but it’s not that difficult. The pool below Schoolhouse Falls is crystal clear and perfect for swimming but I particularly love this waterfall because you can walk behind it! It’s about 45 minutes from Cashiers.

Schoolhouse Falls


Next up is swimming near Cashiers. You can swim at Silver Run Falls and Schoolhouse Falls but here are a couple other spots to get wet during the warmer months.

Sliding Rock

This is not the Sliding Rock you may have heard about in Pisgah Forest. Nope, this is the smaller but just as fun and nowhere near as crowded Sliding Rock in Cashiers. It’s less than 10 minutes from downtown Cashiers and down a short trail. There’s a little sandy beach and you can slide down the waterfall all you want or jump into the potholes in the middle of rock formations on the waterfall itself if you are daring. Definitely watch your kids here though.

Sliding Rock in Cashiers

Pines Recreation Area

Not 15 minutes from downtown Cashiers is the beautiful Lake Glenville. You can swim in the lake at the Pines Recreation Area on the north end of the lake. It has a little sandy beach and a fishing pier as well – so pretty! And it’s free. Also, you can access the south trailhead (the shorter but steeper trail) to High Falls.

Boating on Lake Glenville

If you want to get on the water at Lake Glenville, take an a waterfall cruise with Lake Glenville Scenic Waterfalls Cruise with Captain Mark Wise. The two-hour boat tour is great for any age or ability and you’ll learn all about the lake, its history, its diverse ecosystems, and you will get to see waterfalls that are only accessible by boat.

You can also rent kayaks, paddleboards, and pontoon boats from local marinas or drop in your own small water vessels at the Pines Recreation Area.

The Village Green

The Village Green is a huge, 12.5 acre green space right in the heart of Cashiers with art sculptures, a boardwalk path through the woods, and an old school wooden playground that my kids did not want to leave. This is where many events happen in Cashiers as well so if you’re not sure where an event is taking place, it’s probably here. I think the playground is the best part though! It is fenced in and has swings, a tire swing, lots of obstacles, and a tot play space.

Village Play at the Village Green

Fly Fishing

Even though I’ve never done fly fishing (but I really would love to try it), I love watching the fishermen on the water whenever I see them during hikes. They look so relaxed. The Tuckaseegee River flows through a scenic mountain valley and several quaint communities up in Western NC. Jackson County is known as the North Carolina Trout Capital and home of the Western North Carolina Fly Fishing Trail. The river is very accessible for fishing and teeming with brown, rainbow, and brook trout – the river is stocked with almost 93,000 fish annually. Winter is actually prime fly-fishing time and because they are often feeding more during the day and since the state stocks the river in the fall, you have a really good chance of getting bites. You can bring your own equipment or rent from local outfitters. 

Seasonal Fun in Cashiers

Cashiers has four defined seasons, all of which have their own beauty, events, and cool things to do. Here are our favorites:

Outhouse Races

Every year, the Sapphire Valley Resort hosts the Outhouse Races where teams decorate an outhouse, put it on skis, and then race it down the mountain. It is exactly how it sounds and it is really fun to watch. The teams are really creative and all use some kind of toilet humor but it’s in such great fun that when people are cheering for their favorite outhouse, you can really get into it. It usually happens in February.

Outhouse Races

Snow Tubing & Skiing

During the winter, you can ski and snow tube at the Sapphire Valley Resort. I’m not a skier but my kids and I have done snow tubing there and it’s a lot of fun! Snow tubing at Sapphire Valley happens at Frozen Falls Tube Park, right behind the community center and next to the bunny slope. Snow tubing tickets are sold at the community center and are $30/person or if you have an amenity card, it is $22.50/person. You can’t buy them in advance so you need to show up, sign a waiver, and purchase your ticket. You can purchase your weekend ticket in person starting at 9 am on Fridays. They do take group reservations of more than 10 people and those must be made a week ahead of time. On busy days, they do sell out so plan accordingly (keep reading for backup plans). Each tubing session lasts for 1.75 hours and start every two hours beginning usually at 10 am, although that can change. Check the schedule before you go.

There are no height restrictions so kids can definitely do snow tubing but they will be in their own tube. My kids (ages 9 and 5) had a blast. There is nothing quite like flying down a mountain on a giant tube! It’s exhilarating and a bit scary at first. The run is about 500 feet with a drop of 60 feet. To get up the mountain, you have to stand on an escalator-type contraption, like the kind you use at the airport that is totally flat and moves. There are staff that help to get you and your tube on it. 

The Cashiers Christmas Parade

If you’ve ever wanted to experience a small, mountain town at Christmas, this is your chance. The annual Cashiers Christmas parade happens every December and it includes fire trucks, marching bands, and vintage cars. It will happen on Saturday, December 3, 2022 at 3 pm.

The Shadow of the Bear

This is a tricky one to catch but if you do, prepare to be blown away. It’s only tricky because you need a clear sky and it only happens twice a year for a few weeks – the Shadow of the Bear is literally a shadow that looks like a bear next to Whiteside Mountain that appears in late October/early November and again in early February. You can see it about 30 minutes before sunset off of a pull off on Highway 64 right on the Jackson County border. I’ve done it with my kids and we had such a fun time talking with the people watching it with us because none of us thought that the shadow looked like a bear! You really need to watch your kids though since you’re on the side of the road. Get there early to get parking and bring a jacket since it’s quite chilly up there that time of year.

Shadow of the Bear, Cashiers, NC
Courtesy of Stacy Redmon

Where to Eat in Cashiers

Cashiers is small so dining options are limited. My favorite spot to eat is Slabtown Pizza, just a minute or two from the heart of Cashiers. They have pizza, salads, and local craft beer. We ordered a large cheese pizza, small Greek salad, and waffle fries for just myself and my two kids and had leftovers. You order at the counter (or call ahead for pickup) and take a seat and wait for your food.

We also ate one afternoon at Happs right next to Lake Glenville. This place is fantastic because they have a big outdoor play area with cornhole and mini-golf, which is a great distraction for kids while they wait for their meals. They have burgers, sandwiches, and salads plus a huge bar, big TVs, both indoor and outdoor seating, and a big fireplace.

Happs Barn & Grill

For coffee and pastries, I recommend Buck’s Coffee Shop at the main intersection of 64 & 107. The place is very laid back with bagels, pastries, breakfast sandwiches, and a latte that I’m still thinking about days later. If you’re working while up in Cashiers, this is a great spot to bring your laptop and relax while making your deadlines. They’ve got wifi and lots of comfortable seating.

Where to Stay in Cashiers

Most of the times I’ve visited Cashiers or Lake Glenville, I’ve stayed in an AirBnB or VRBO at the Sapphire Valley Resort. Staying at the resort is fantastic because it has an indoor pool and sauna, hot tubs, mini-golf, a gym, arcade room, and outdoor pool. You have to purchase an amenity card (it was around $3/day in 2021) but it was totally worth it for the downtime moments between all our adventures to swim in the pools and relax in the sauna. This is especially worth it if you’re visiting during the colder months because you can use the indoor pool and sauna no matter the weather! Also, if you’re staying at the resort, you can rent kayaks or paddleboards at Lake Fairfield. That was the very first time I tried paddleboarding, which kindled my love for it!

The AirBnB I stayed at in Lake Glenville though was just amazing. I really didn’t want to leave. While we didn’t have lake access, we did have a breathtaking view of the lake, which was one hundred percent worth it. Definitely check AirBnB or VRBO for listings that fit your family’s needs and budget.

View of Lake Glenville from our AirBnB

The other place I’ve stayed while visiting Cashiers is the  Hampton Inn & Suites directly across the street from the resort. This hotel was awesome for several reasons: 

  • It has an indoor pool and hot tub, which we made use of when our initial tubing time was unavailable 
  • It has a free, hot breakfast in the morning included which has everything from waffles to eggs to smoothies to oatmeal and bagels
  • The location is just perfect as it took us no time to get to the resort
  • It is super clean and the staff are friendly and helpful
  • It has free coffee, tea, and hot chocolate all day long
  • Great option for budget-conscious families (we saw so many families there!)

The wintertime is this area’s slower season so prices are probably as cheap as they will be all year. This season is often called the “Secret Season” because of the lower cost of trips there.

For a more luxurious and high end vacation experience in Cashiers, take a look at the High Hampton Resort. It has a gold course, spa, and beautiful rooms.

Where to Shop in Cashiers

We loved shopping at the Cashiers Farmers Market, a standalone market with everything from bacon to local honey to fruit and produce to pottery and seasonal items. They also have wine, chocolate, and you can order lunch and eat at the picnic tables next door.

Cashier’s Farmers Market

We also really loved the Cashiers Candy Shoppe, which has an eclectic array of clothing, home goods, and an entire room dedicated to candy and chocolate. It was amazing. But the best part for my kids was petting the two Golden Retrievers that greeted guests. They were adorable and one rolled over immediately for tummy pets when one of my daughters was giving her some love. So, so cute.

My Last Thoughts on Cashiers

Know this: if you visit Cashiers, you may leave a little piece of your heart there. If you like hiking, swimming, boating, sliding down waterfalls, and spending time with family, the Sapphire Valley may swoop in and whisk you away. I have fallen so hard for this tiny slice of heaven and go as often as I can. I have made some wonderful memories with my family here and truly hope I get to make many more.

And here’s another confession – I grew up close to the beach in New Jersey and I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m more of a mountain-lover than beach-lover. It seems like a betrayal of my roots. But it’s not. I’m setting down new roots for my own little kids to make their own memories and hopefully fall in love with the outdoors like I did.

For more information on other things to do in Jackson County, the county’s tourism website is super helpful.

Has your family ever visited Sapphire Valley?

Do you love outdoor adventures? You may also enjoy our list of Waterfalls Near Greenville, Swimming Holes Near Greenville, and Hiking Near Greenville!

Hiking Around Greenville, SC with Toddlers and Young Children

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Looking for some great hikes for toddlers and young children near Greenville, SC? Hiking with young children is possible! We put together this great list of the best hikes in and around Greenville, SC for toddlers. Peruse the list to find trails that are perfect for little ones in the Upstate.


10 Great Ideas for Next Time Dad Has the Kids in Greenville, SC

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Planning some mom time but not sure what Dad can do with the kids in Greenville? We’re here to help! Local mom Lindy Wilson has a list of places in Greenville that would be perfect for Dad to enjoy with the kids. She has lots of free ideas and some low-cost options, too! 


8 Hiking Trails near Greenville Kidding Around Readers Recommend

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Ready to get out and hike the trails near Greenville, SC? Today, contributor Kristina Hernandez shares some of the best places to hike near Greenville, SC.

For even more hikes, see our complete guide to hikes near Greenville, SC, which has hikes for every age, ability and every type of trail including trails with waterfalls, historic hikes, and more.

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.

Table Rock hike

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!

Kidding Around Greenville readers give some of their favorite hiking spots in the area below. One reader is on a mission to see all the beautiful waterfalls within an hour of Greenville. She uses the AllTrails Hiking & Mountain Trails app to find them, and other trails in the Upstate. We also have a list of waterfalls near Greenville to assist our readers.


Jump Off Rock: Drive for the View, Stay for a Picnic & Hike in Hendersonville, NC

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Have you seen the panoramic views at the top of Echo Mountain from Jump Off Rock? Just a few minutes outside Hendersonville, NC in Laurel Park, NC is Jump Off Rock Park. You’ll drive straight to the top for some gorgeous views, and while you’re there you can do a little hiking or enjoy the grassy mountain top lawn for a picnic with a view. Admission is free and that’s not the only reason this park is so great for families. Here’s why we love Jump Off Rock.

This article includes:
What is Jump Off Rock?
Why Do They Call it Jump Off Rock?
Picnics at Jump Off Rock
Hiking Trails
Is Jump Off Rock a Good Place to Bring Kids?
How do I get to Jump Off Rock?