By Alli Hill
A walk in the woods can do wonders for your mind and body. Just ask any of the thousands of locals and travelers alike who flock to the Palmetto State each year to enjoy the trails and natural wonders here. All across South Carolina you’ll discover conditions for hikers of all skill levels and ages. Here’s where you’ll find five of the most scenic hikes in South Carolina.
This moderate 1.7-mile trek brings explorers to the Eastatoe Creek Heritage Preserve. Here, you’ll discover wildflowers, a magnificent gorge, incredible ferns, and so much more. Take in the natural flora and fauna of the Upstate. Pay attention to the yellow blazes guiding the way, but don’t worry, they’re very easy to spot.
Over 17,000 acres of swampland await visitors in this National Aubodon Society-owned area. There’s a nearly two-mile-long boardwalk that winds past 1,000-year-old trees and is wheelchair accessible. Experienced hikers may wish to venture off the boardwalk on a naturalist-guided tour of the forest, but you should know that reservations are required for these tours.
But for outdoor enthusiasts, this a dream destination come true. The Long Creek Falls trailhead begins on Turkey Ridge Road, then travels about 1.7 miles to a 25-foot waterfall. From there, you’ll return to the trailhead on the path you came in on. It’s not a particularly difficult hike, but there are some hills and semi-challenging terrain that make it more of a hike than a stroll.
Lake Jocassee’s pristine water and beautiful mountain scenery has earned it accolades from travel websites, publications, and visitors alike. But just as trip-worthy as its lake is the terrain that makes for prime hiking conditions. Much of the 80-mile Foothills Trail travels in and around the Jocassee Gorges, which stretches from Table Rock State Park to Oconee State Park. The gorges are located in between, boasting the greatest concentration of waterfalls in the continent. Some of the can’t-miss trailheads in the area are at Canebrake and Laurels Falls Boat Access points.
This area has its dangers, so hikers beware. Part of the Mountain Bridge Wilderness Area, there are three distinct tiers to Wildcat Branch Falls. The lowest section of the falls is visible from scenic Highway 11, which means there’s no need to hike to enjoy the view. To the left of these falls, you’ll find a set of stairs that leads to the Middle Wildcat Branch Falls. The trail crosses the creek at the fall’s base and travels to the remnants of a fireplace and chimney used by the Civilian Conservation Corps that was built in the 1930s. Just a quarter mile up from here leads to the Upper Wildcat Branch Falls, a 100-foot cascade of pure beauty. But heed the warning signs that about in the area—this part of the falls has been the site accidents, so climbing higher than the base isn’t recommended.