By Alli Hill
There’s a good reason South Carolina’s outdoor scene is one of the best in the nation. Given its prime location with both mountain and coastal regions, it offers something amazing for everyone, and no destination is more than a five-hour drive away for its residents. Hikers love the Palmetto State because of its diverse trail systems that challenge their abilities while providing enjoyable hikes and plenty of beautiful views. If that’s the kind of hike you’re looking for, you won’t want to skip these five energizing hiking trails in South Carolina.
Word of warning: the last section of this hike will have you scrambling up the rocks to reach the summit, but the views are well worth the effort and the energy you exert makes for an amazing workout. This seven-mile up-and-back trail leads you to a beautiful waterfall and stunning mountain views. It’s a moderately trafficked trail used by hikers and runners alike, so the terrain isn’t too difficult to navigate, save for the last stretch. After about 2.5 miles you’ll come to a scenic overlook that lets you feast your eyes on the famed Table Rock. At this point you can head back, or continue on toward Pinnacle Mountain or Table Rock.
Suitable for all skill levels, this 3.5-mile round-trip trail takes you to a well-hidden gem in Oconee County: Yellow Branch Falls. The terrain here is moderate, giving you slight challenges that can energize you as you walk without overexerting you. The trail is narrow in some parts, and can become slippery after rain storms, so take caution as you travel the trail.
If the name didn’t give it away, you can expect to see a beautiful waterfall vista as your reward for reaching the turnaround point. This area in Oconee State Park is fairly secluded, and not over-congested with other hikers. However, the way back is mostly uphill, so be prepared for a little longer return trip than your arrival at the falls.
Another trail in Oconee State Park, this roughly four-mile down-and-back path features gorgeous mountain vistas at the turnaround point. This hike is recommended for more experienced hikers as it can be quite strenuous. In addition, the trail is often quiet and not heavily trafficked, which gives you a true sense of being in the middle of nowhere. If you want an energizing hike tucked away from the world, there’s no better place.
With breathtaking views of Caesar’s Head, this trail provides an overlook of the stunning waterfalls and other scenery. The trail lasts roughly three miles, and features several ups and downs without overexertion. If you’re interested in getting a better view of the falls, you’ll need to bring binoculars or a zoom camera lens, as the overlook point is a fair distance away from the falls. But if you’re more concerned with engaging yourself in a challenging yet enjoyable hike, there’s none better than this one.