Step Outside - South Carolina WELCOME TO STEP OUTSIDE! Find the best outdoor fun near you! en-us 30 http://stepoutside.org/ Step Outside - South Carolina 144 144 http://stepoutside.org/ https://cdn-step.americantowns.com/img/stepoutside_logo.gif Sat, 25 May 2024 21:37:33 -0500 5 Energizing Hikes in South Carolina 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.

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http://stepoutside.org/article/5-energizing-hikes-in-south-carolina http://stepoutside.org/article/5-energizing-hikes-in-south-carolina Fri, 12 Apr 2024 00:00:00 -0500
5 Beautiful Scenic Hikes in South Carolina 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.

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5 Exhilarating Jet Skiing Spots in South Carolina With dozens of lakes, rivers, and miles of beautiful seaside coastline, it’s no surprise that South Carolina has established itself as a prime destination for jet skiers. A lake is never more than an hour or two away, and it only takes six hours to go from the state’s westernmost point to a spot on the Atlantic shoreline. No matter your skill level or experience with jet skis, the Palmetto State offers plenty of opportunities for thrill seekers and first timers alike. Rent a jet ski (or bring your own) and take it for a spin at one of these five awesome jet skiing destinations. 

Lake Hartwell is a vast lake spanning two states, making it an attractive spot for jet skiers. The lake offers plenty of public boat ramps to launch your own jet ski, along with several marinas and companies that offer jet ski rentals, such as Pontoon & Jet Ski Rental in Fair Play, South Carolina. You’ll find a multitude of smaller coves to practice your skills or take a swim. In addition, the lake offers several points of interest that intrigue locals and tourists alike. Make your way to Cemetery Island, where you’ll find the remnants of nearly 60 Revolutionary-era graves.

All along the coast of the Grand Strand you’ll find a dozen or more places to rent a jet ski and create your own epic adventure at sea. No guides, no tour groups, just a free play session that lets you take it as fast or slow as you can handle. If you want to avoid the crashing waves of the ocean, visitors can head to the Intercoastal Waterway where additional jet ski rentals can be found. Here you can shred on your own or book a guided tour through the backwaters of Myrtle Beach, and maybe even see an alligator or other wildlife!

The Lowcountry’s abundance of bodies of water make it an ideal spot for jet skiers of all skill levels. The area is littered with lots of barrier islands that are begging to be explored, such as Capers Island, the largest uninhabited island on the eastern coast. You can book a guided tour at places like Tidal Wave Watersports which can take you straight to the best sights in the Charleston area. TWW also offers WaveRunner rentals by the hour for those who want to create their own experience.

Situated in the middle of the Palmetto State, visitors love Lake Murray because it caters to both thrill seekers and casual riders. There are several spots along the lake where you can rent a jet ski, such as 50-50 Water Sports in Leesville, that lets you start in calm water before pushing the throttle to its limits. You can stick to the small coves for a swim or head out to big water in search of grander adventure.

This clean, family-friendly lake is a favorite among locals and travelers alike. It offers plenty of wide-open spaces for you to put your watercraft to the test, along with small, calm areas if you want to take a quick dip. You can contact companies like Lake Keowee Boat Rentals or Pontoon & Jet Ski Rental to have your watercraft delivered to the lake to help save you the time and hassle of bringing your own.

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5 Cool Spots for ATV Off-Roading in South Carolina Experience the Palmetto State’s stunning natural terrain by exploring on an ATV. Off-roading has become somewhat of a southern staple, given the area’s varied terrain and a huge following of outdoor recreation. South Carolina’s blend of mountainous roads, swamplands, coastal regions, and a multitude of wooded areas create prime conditions to take an off-road ride on the wild side. When adventure comes calling, head to one of these five great places for ATV off-roading thrills. 

This small-yet-action-packed park is the ATV owner’s paradise. Every trail in the park is open for ATV riding, though some trails share accessibility with Jeeps and other vehicles. First timers will enjoy a thorough tour of the park by well-trained staff who share your passion for off-roading. The park features a series of trails ranging in difficulty from beginner to advanced, as well as a track that’s perfect for young off-roaders to learn the basics. In addition to the trail system and obstacles, Gulches also features campsites and a single cabin for rent, in case you want to extend your fun.

If you haven’t yet invested in your own ATV, this park makes renting one well worth the experience. You’ll find over 30 miles of enduro-style trails, and 15 miles of two-track trails that every skill level can enjoy, along with obstacles and clay, sand, and dirt terrains. You can hook up your RV on site if you want to make a full vacation of your off-roading experience. And if you aren’t quite ready to venture out on your own, you can book a guided ATV tour of the park. 

As the biggest ATV, UTV, and dirt bike park in the entire Southeast, you can expect nothing short of spectacular throughout its 2,600 acres. You can zoom through 100 miles of beginner to black diamond trails that are wide enough to give you clear passage without hitting any unwanted obstacles. Or, you can check out the drag strip, mud bog, or MX-style track for an equally thrilling experience. They also feature a challenging rock crawl that will leave you breathless as you climb to the top. The folks here take excellent care of the park year-round to give you access to the ultimate riding experience no matter what day or season it is. In addition to ATV off-roading, guests can camp or rent a cabin, enjoy a round of disc golf, or take their horse along dedicated equine trails. 

If you’re more into the natural terrain rather than a park-style setting, you’ll want to check out the Parson’s Mountain OHV Trail. Strictly for ATV and dirt bike riders, this one-way trail creates an experience that’s gentle enough for beginners yet scenic enough to be enjoyed by any skill level. A $5 entry fee grants you all-day access to the trail, which spans one large loop or two smaller loops. This trail is well tucked away from just about everything, which makes it a prime destination if you want to relax and escape the daily grind for a while. It is recommended that you call ahead of time, as weather conditions sometimes prompt sudden trail closures for maintenance and safety checks.

The miles of unpaved trails here are prime riding grounds for your ATV. While you’re cruising through the forest, you can’t help but take in some of the sights of the park, such as lakes, waterfalls, and flora and fauna communities. Although it’s not a formal ATV park, you should be prepared to follow some basic rules, like wearing a helmet and protective eyewear. In addition, you’ll need to pick up a permit before you ride.

*Note: Age restrictions, special licenses, and other requirements for off highway vehicles vary from state to state. Before heading out on your OHV, please consult your local regulations.

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http://stepoutside.org/article/5-cool-spots-for-atv-off-roading-in-south-carolina http://stepoutside.org/article/5-cool-spots-for-atv-off-roading-in-south-carolina Mon, 08 Apr 2024 00:00:00 -0500
5 Best Dirt Motorcycle Trails in South Carolina There’s nothing quite like the thrill of the dirt bike, and the muddier the trail the better. Given South Carolina’s abundance of natural landscapes and varied terrain, there are plenty of places to fuel your passion for off-roading on your dirt motorcycle. So, don your helmet and saddle up at one of these five awesome dirt biking trails in South Carolina. 

You’ll have to share the “road” with ATVs, but the rolling hills and cheap rates are well worth it. For just $5 a day, you can cruise through the wooded pinelands and take in all the sights and sounds of the Sumter National Forest. Several of the loops interconnect to give you long stretches of solid riding without anything getting in your way. The trailhead is located right off Garlington School Road in Laurens County, about a 5-10-minute drive from the Joanna/Whitmire exit on I-26.

A little trail action...

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As part of the Francis Marion National Forest, this trail was made with the off-road motorcyclist in mind. While other ATVs are permitted, dirt bike enthusiasts will revel in the scenic forest vistas as they scout for wildlife like deer and wild turkeys. You’ll need to pay a reasonable $5/day fee, but since the money goes directly to maintaining the trail, it’s well worth the price. If you want to make a full trip, the park offers tent camping so you can get your riding fill before you head back to reality.

The locals swear by this well-maintained prepped and wetted park. It’s challenging enough to put your skills to the test, but easy enough to keep you interested in wanting to master new ones. Their main track spans a full 1.2 miles and is safe for riders of all skill levels. They also feature a “peewee” hard track and a 1.3-mile one-way track through a wooded area that offers both technical spots and areas for wide open trailblazing.

Friendly to dirt bikes and ATVs alike, you have your pick of 58 miles’ worth of trails, including practice areas, that are suited to any skill level. They don’t offer rentals, so you will have to bring your own vehicle and gear. If you want to make a full weekend of the park, you can rent a campsite for just $10. If you can’t make it on a weekend, call ahead and make an appointment for a weekday ride.

There’s less of a natural atmosphere and more of a downright muddy vibe here. You can practice new tricks as you race off bumps and hills of varying heights. With sharp curves, rolling straightaways, and generous pathways, locals continue to flock to the track because of its continued commitment to its riders. 

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5 Great Hiking Trails in South Carolina South Carolina’s unique location offers the best of mountains and coastal scenery, making it ideal for a memorable hike with the family. The outdoor lifestyle of the Palmetto State is bustling, largely due to its well-managed parks systems, abundant wildlife, and natural vistas. The next time you’re looking for the perfect family-friendly activity, consider exploring one of these five awesome hiking trails in South Carolina. 

This 90-acre park is more than just a playground, although for some families that’s reason enough to visit. Start your journey on a walk or bike ride on the paved trails through the woods. As you travel closer to the Reedy River, you might see remnants of foundations from structures that served as mills nearly 200 years ago. In about 10 to 15 minutes, you’ll arrive at the river, which will lead you directly to the elegant Cedar Falls. It’s an easy, short hike for kids, especially since the path is smooth and well-marked. The whole family can enjoy fishing the river or simply indulging in a waterside lunch.

Touted as one of Oconee County’s best kept secrets, Chau Ram County Park features easy hiking alongside beautiful river views. A small entry fee of just $2 per car can keep the whole family entertained for hours. Upon arrival, you’ll notice the beautiful cascades of the 40-foot waterfall surrounded by natural rock formations. The park features trails that etch Ramsey Creek and the Chauga River, including a suspension bridge that leads to trails on the opposite side of the river. It’s not unusual to find tadpole pools along the shores of the creek, as well as fish, turtles, snakes, and other wildlife in the area.

Free admission and fun for all ages, Oconee Station State Historic Site is the home of a former military compound and trading post from over 200 years ago. But just beyond the stone blockhouse begins a 1.5-mile trail that takes visitors to the illustrious Station Cove Falls. Along the way, you can’t help but notice the abundance of wildflowers year-round. You can also catch glimpses of beaver ponds, an alder swamp, and endangered flora around the falls area. It’s an easy hike with a beautiful reward at the end, making it a perfect activity for families of all sizes and ages.

If you want to turn a day of fun into a day of fun and learning, head to the Lake Conestee Nature Park and begin your journey on one of two Learning Loop trails. Each Learning Loop contains 10 learning station checkpoints that offer insight and education about the area. You can learn about the Reedy River, three miles of which runs through the nature park, the once-thriving Forrester Farm, and information about the wildlife in the area. With over 400 total acres comprising the park, you can expect to see a variety of denizens, including snakes, deer, raccoon, river otters, beavers, and over 200 species of birds.

Sunday strolls with my boys

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You have your choice of three different trails here, only one of which is over a mile. The Sandpiper Pond Nature Trail weaves past one of the best-preserved beaches in the state. The two-mile trail takes you along a boardwalk, over a saltwater pond teeming with life, and ending at an observation tower that gives you a good view of the area’s birdlife. Or, you could take the shorter .3-mile Kerrigan Nature Trail that leads you to a freshwater lagoon. This is one of your best bets at seeing alligators in the wild, along with other animal life. The Boardwalk trail is the shortest of the three, spanning just .1 miles. You’ll cross over a saltwater marsh that plays home to migratory birds, loggerhead turtles, and alligators. Entry for adults is $5, and children are $3. Children five and under are free.

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http://stepoutside.org/article/5-great-hiking-trails-in-south-carolina http://stepoutside.org/article/5-great-hiking-trails-in-south-carolina Sat, 06 Apr 2024 00:00:00 -0500
5 Awesome Trail Running Spots in South Carolina There’s nothing quite like venturing off the beaten track and hitting a woodland trail for a good run. Trail running offers a unique experience that track and road training simply can’t beat: from varied terrain for uneven footing to narrow straightaways and plenty of natural scenery to keep you motivated, trail running can be as good for your mind as it is for your body. As a result, you can get a good workout that’s miles away from ordinary while enjoying all the sights and sounds of the great outdoors. These five awesome trail running spots in South Carolina mean you never have to endure a boring run again. 

Located in Paris Mountain State Park, this nearly-four-mile trail comes complete with wildlife sightings and beautiful natural scenery you wouldn’t expect to find this close to the city. Hikers have rated the trail as moderate to strenuous, but trail running usually presents additional challenges due to speed. If you can make it past the first mile and a half, the rest of the trail is mostly flat with few obstacles. 

This moderate-rated 4.4-mile loop is a favorite among runners who love the great outdoors. Set against a backdrop of rocky outcrops, a lake, and picturesque mountains, the sights alone are worth it to make this your new favorite running spot. The first section is relatively easy, but quickly turns uphill to give you an early challenge. You’ll descend at Lake Jocassee, but the way back is filled with steep ascents and drops, but as an end result you’ll have challenged yourself more here than any gym or roadway could offer.

This almost-eight-mile trail runs along the banks of the lake for most of the way. Though rated as moderately difficult, the majority of the trail is flat and even with very few challenges. The trail features several tight turns and short climbs that will test your stamina. Beware, black bears have been known to frequent the area. 

The famed Swamp Rabbit Trail is a favorite among hikers, bikers, and runners because of its diverse setting and terrain. The trail runs from Traveler’s Rest through downtown Greenville and into Mauldin, giving runner several potential points to hop on and off the trail. It’s a great spot to feel like you’re in the middle of nowhere with the city tucked just a stone’s throw away. However, given the popularity of the trail it’s a highly trafficked one. If you want to enjoy an uninterrupted run, it’s best to use it during early morning hours during the week.

Short and sweet, this 2.2-mile loop is about as easy as they come. It’s the perfect spot for those just getting into trail running, or for seasoned runners who want to enjoy beautiful views and a quick workout. The trail is nestled in a community park and travels to ruins of an old mill and other sights. The trail here is mostly paved, which doesn’t give the same feel as most trail running spots, but it’s a nice, easy run through the woods that can make your workout more enjoyable than running on a treadmill. 

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ATV Off-Roading Adventure at Enoree OHV Trail South Carolinians know that ATV off-roading isn’t just an activity—it’s a lifestyle. Off-roading parks and trails are packed every weekend with thrill seekers who aren’t afraid to get a little dirty. And after hours of bumpy rides through the woods and getting stuck in mud lakes, there are plenty of nearby restaurants, sights, and other activities to make for a perfect day. Your ultimate off-roading adventure in South Carolina begins now.

Your quest for an epic off-roading experience begins with a morning fuel up at Steamers. Locals love this spot because of the fresh food quality and friendly service. Here you can grab a quick bite of eggs, toast, fruit, omelets, or other fan favorites to keep you full and focused for a day on the trails. 

Before you head out for a day in the woods, swing by the Musgrove Mill Historic Site. Just by looking at the picturesque scenery, you’d never know it was the stage for a bloody Revolutionary War battle. The park is free of charge to visit, and features several scenic areas for photo ops, including the small but sweet Horseshoe Falls and beautiful foliage in the fall.

ATV and dirt bike riders will love the Enoree OHV Trail, complete with pine forests and rolling hills to give your journey plenty of surprises. You’ll need to pay attention to which trails are one-way and which are two-way, as the interconnecting loops can become a little complicated. However, since there are multiple loops, riders can create their own unique route as long or short as they like to squeeze in all the off-roading time they can handle. The trail system is complete with roadway crossovers, a tunnel, and the potential to see some local wildlife. Keep in mind that the maximum ATV width the trail will accommodate is 50 inches. 

After a long day of wooded trail riding, refuel your appetite at Mig’s, about a 30-minute drive from the trailhead. This food fortress features some of the best pizza and sandwiches in the area, along with other favorites like shrimp, salads, and pasta. You won’t make a bad meal choice here—it’s all equally delicious!

If you’re ready to crash after a long day of off-roading, head to the humble yet comfy Magnolia Inn. The rooms here are clean and cozy, perfect for unwinding after your adventure. There’s also plenty of free parking for your trailer. You can also score free coffee and pastries in the morning before you check out. 

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5 Best Birdwatching Hikes in South Carolina Birdwatching is among the most rewarding activities. Each year thousands of folks travel to South Carolina to catch a glimpse of some of the state’s most precious bird species in their natural habitat, including our national bird, the bald eagle. And while there are no trophies, cash prizes, or hard-and fast rules to the activity, simply enjoying the scenery as you scout for prized bird sightings is all the reward bird enthusiasts need. If you love birdwatching, it doesn’t get any better than these five best birdwatching spots in South Carolina. 

Bird populations change with the seasons, so your best shot at viewing the largest variety falls into the migratory and winter months. Look for bald eagles around the lake in the winter months. Fall through spring typically provide a variety of waterfowl, while the spring features nesting birds like warblers, wood duck, and wild turkey. Painted buntings are a true gem to see in the grassy areas during the spring through late summer months. Overall, there are nearly 300 species of birds that call this place home, and you’re likely to see many of them on a single visit.

View of the Morris Island lighthouse aren’t the only perk to this tourist destination. Throughout the preserve, you’ll find a diverse popular of migratory birds, including the beloved and endangered piping plovers. Much of the land here plays home to a variety of wildlife and birdlife for nesting and roosting purposes. Organized bird walks are a common activity here, which can provide plenty of education and entertainment for amateur birdwatchers.

A busy sanderling searching for food in the soft waves near Morris Island Light. ••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••• #canonfanphoto Camera: Canon EOS Rebel T6i Lens: Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 IS II USM Aperture: f/5.6 ISO: 400 Shutter speed: 1/1600 sec Focal Length: 200 mm ••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••• #natureromantix #natureprimeshot #splendid_animals #naturehippys_ #natgeowild #animal_captures #wildlife_vision #ipulledoverforthis #your_best_birds #nuts_about_birds #kings_birds #pocket_birds #bns_birds #thetweetsuites #wildlife_perfection #exclusive_wildlife #eye_spy_birds #kings_birds #uspixels #insta_carolina #discoverSC #naturalsouthcarolina #pocket_dof #dof_brilliance #depthobssessed #depthsofearth #splendid_dof #lightlandmag #LPM

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This multi-ecosystem of hardwoods and floodplains provide plenty of prime birdwatching opportunities. The park features a network of hiking and paddling trails, including a 2.4-mile boardwalk that takes you to some of the best spots for bird viewing. If you want to extend your bird spotting adventure, the park allows for backcountry camping to give you plenty of time to spot your favorite species.

Don’t let the name scare you away from this epic nature scene. Though the site is primarily dedicated to hunting waterfowl, visitors can still enjoy taking in all the sights and sounds from the birdlife here. Wood stork and white ibis are common mainstays in the area, along with bald eagles, herons, and the brown-headed nuthatch. The area is a major hot spot for wintering waterfowl and shorebirds during migration, which make fall through spring the perfect time to plan your visit.

This refuge is dedicated to preserving the longleaf pines that once covered millions of acres in the region that have now been lost mostly due to logging. The forests are critical to creating homes for the variety of bird species that now rely on the refuge, including the endangered red-cockaded woodpecker. Nuthatches, warblers, sparrows, orioles, and grosbeaks are also known to frequent the area. Visitors can use the observation tower and trail network to seek out these and other beautiful bird species.

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http://stepoutside.org/article/5-best-birdwatching-hikes-in-south-carolina http://stepoutside.org/article/5-best-birdwatching-hikes-in-south-carolina Mon, 01 Apr 2024 00:00:00 -0500
5 Excellent Places for Beginners to Kayak in South Carolina Given South Carolina’s bountiful beaches, lakes, and rivers, it’s no wonder that kayaking is a therapy of sorts for many who crave outdoor adventure. At least, it is when you know what you’re doing. For beginners, it isn’t always so easy. Between battling wake from boats on the lake, to learning how to turn to maintaining your balance, kayaking doesn’t always come naturally for everyone. Finding the perfect place to learn techniques and tricks can help to fuel your passion and set you on course for a calm, relaxing experience. Maybe take along a guide for your first excursion. If you’re just starting to discover the therapeutic adventures that kayaking can create, start by launching from one of these five great spots for beginners to kayak in South Carolina. 

The calm, crisp waters of Lake Jocassee takes the pressure off beginning kayakers. Devil’s Fork State Park is the only public entry point into Lake Jocassee, but it’s well worth the $5 admission for those just learning how to kayak. Here you can rent a kayak or bring your own. 

We didn't tip over!! Woo hoo!!

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When you’re just starting to learn the basics of kayaking, you’ll benefit from quiet waters and minimal distractions that will keep your focus on the sport. And that’s exactly what makes Table Rock State Park such a good spot for beginners. Feel free to bring your own kayak, or rent one at the park for $5 per half hour. They don’t allow gas boats on this lake, which helps keep the water clean. In addition, you’ll get the bonus of beautiful mountain scenery, including Table Rock’s famed bare facing.

Sesquicentennial Park is a favorite among families and other outdoorsmen for good reason: it’s a bustling beehive of activity. But don’t let that deter you from beginning your kayaking journey here, as the waters usually aren’t overcrowded. You can bring your own kayak and just pay the $5 admission, or you can rent a kayak (life jacket included) for $5 an hour or $15 for the whole day. However, you should know that kayak rentals are only available during peak season, so if you want to squeeze in some extra practice sessions when it cools down you’ll need your own equipment.

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Just $5 will gain you entry into one of the Upstate’s most secluded, best kept secrets of outdoor enjoyment. Provided you are 16 years or older, you can rent a kayak for as little as $5 an hour during the season (they have canoes, too). The one downside here is you can’t bring your own kayak. Though situated on a small lake, you’ll have plenty of room to test your skills without paddling too far from base. 

What a spot to begin your kayaking adventures! Pines surround the scenic river in secluded wilderness. The flow of the river will keep you moving at a comfortable pace, which is especially good for those with minimal experience. The river is a total of 150 miles, and is the principal tributary of the Congaree River. This is a great spot to both challenge yourself as a new paddler, but also remain relaxed. 

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Patrick Jennings/Shutterstock.com http://stepoutside.org/article/5-excellent-places-for-beginners-to-kayak-in-south-carolina http://stepoutside.org/article/5-excellent-places-for-beginners-to-kayak-in-south-carolina Mon, 01 Apr 2024 00:00:00 -0500
9 Best Bait and Tackle Shops in South Carolina When it comes to having the best of both freshwater and saltwater fishing, there’s no better place to be than South Carolina. The fishing scene here is robust, whether you’re heading out on a chartered boating trip with friends or just casting a line from the beaches. Either way, you’re going to need the proper equipment. Start your adventure by visiting these 10 awesome bait and tackle shops in South Carolina. 

Their name isn’t the only thing that makes them number one. It’s all about having the right gear at the right time at a good price, and their customers can count on this same high level of service every time. They even stock all the little extras you may have forgotten that will certainly make a difference in your fishing trip. 

Check out our unique jigs tied in house! #fishinginthesouth #shopsmall

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As one of the best cities in South Carolina for fishing, Perry’s is just what Murrells Inlet needs. This small, attractive bait shop will have you pumped for the day’s fishing experience, offering some of the best live bait and fishing accessories on the strand. It also helps that the folks here are avid fishermen who can direct you to the best fishing spots that tourists haven’t discovered yet.

More than just a bait shop, Last Chance is the only stop you need to make before a day on the water. They offer beer and wine for your cooler, ice cream, live bait, fishing accessories, and down-home service that makes you feel like part of the team. They can also put their local expertise to work for you to save you some time and trouble finding the best fishing spots.

There’s no better tackle shop around, especially when you account for the superior service. Customers love them because they know they’ll get the equipment that matches their needs, even if it’s not a higher priced item. Their tackle is reasonably priced, but most folks continue to do business here because of the personalized service and attention to detail with every visit.

If you’re looking for an established bait shop that can be your new go-to, Haddrell’s is it. They’ve been in business for well over three decades and they’re not going anywhere. Locals love them because they offer a one-stop shop for bait, gear, t-shirts, coolers, and other goodies that will save you a trip elsewhere.

Lake Hartwell has long been known as a prime spot for bass fishing, so it’s no wonder there’s also one of the bait shops in the state along its water’s edge. This drive-through bait shop saves eager fishermen some hassle, but also offers a large retail area for those who want to sit and stay awhile.

Freshwater, saltwater, no matter your preference, Southside Bait & Tackle can serve you with all the right bait and gear. They feature a large selection of live and frozen bait proven to be appetizing to local fish. They know the area well and can help you get the most from your experience.

This family-focused bait shop opens bright and early each morning to help you maximize your time on the water. They have a way of making you feel like a part of their family. They stock everything you need for local fishing, so your stop here can be the only thing standing between you and the water.

If you’re looking for live bait, 702 is the place to stop. They carry the best kind of bait for fishing on Lake Greenwood, plus they’re located close to the state park to save you from driving into the next town for your fishing needs.

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http://stepoutside.org/article/9-best-bait-and-tackle-shops-in-south-carolina http://stepoutside.org/article/9-best-bait-and-tackle-shops-in-south-carolina Thu, 28 Mar 2024 00:00:00 -0500
9 Best Watersport Retailers in South Carolina In South Carolina, watersports aren’t just something to do—they’re a lifestyle, all day every day. Even in the winter, it’s not uncommon to find kayaks or canoes dotting the lakes as enthusiasts keep their skills sharp in the offseason. Whether you’re a fan of paddleboarding or wakeboarding, windsurfing or waterskiing, you’ll find everything you need to fuel your passion at these 9 best watersport retailers in South Carolina. 

They’re widely known for their boat sales, but customers can’t stop talking about the high caliber of service. These guys truly live the water sports lifestyle and work hard to ensure you get the best equipment and gear for your money. Alongside their watercraft lineup, their pro shop is fully stocked with wakeboards, jackets, ropes, skis, tubes, and all the other necessities for a day on the lake.

There’s no better place to grab your gear than at Trophy Lakes Sports. First, find your new wakeboard, or water skis. Then, test out your new toys at the on-site cable park. You can book private lessons, enroll in a day camp, or simply enjoy a family day on the lake. 

This one-stop source for paddleboards and kayaks means you’ll never have to go anywhere else. They carry best-in-class brands like Hobie, Wilderness Systems, and Native Watercraft, among others. Best of all, they also offer rentals so you can test the waters before you commit to buying.

From apparel to equipment, Sealand Adventure Sports is known for quality and service. Here you can find your new paddleboard, kite, surfing accessories, clothing, and more, along with the best expertise in the industry to help you get the most from your purchase. If you’re just starting out or looking to build on your skills, they have their own instructors on staff who can help you with private lessons. 

These new @boteboards are simply beautiful #suplife #bote #masterpiece

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Paddleboarding isn’t just a water sport. For many, it’s a chance to escape the day-to-day and find time to relax and unwind. Soul Sup is dedicated to helping you enjoy the sport how you like it. Whether you want to purchase a board or rent one, take a water tour or enjoy an on-board yoga session, Soul Sup can help you find your center.

Serving the Lake Keowee and Lake Hartwell communities for over 20 years and counting, these guys know watersports. Even better, they’re well acquainted with the local lakes and can help you put your new boat or water sports equipment to the ultimate test. Inside their pro shop, you can scoop up a wakeboard, slalom ski, bindings, and more for some of the best prices you’ll find anywhere.

$299.00 wakeboard and binding combo sale!

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They’re well-known for their group excursions, but no adventure is complete without the right gear. That’s why you can find all the equipment you’ll need for your next kayaking trip right here. Customers love them because their service doesn’t end when you walk out the door. They want you to be completely satisfied with your purchase and will work hard to help you make the right decision the first time.

Known as one of the top surfing destinations in South Carolina, there’s no better place to play in the water than Pawleys Island. The Surf the Earth surf shop is an icon in this small beach town, bringing you the best names in SUPs and surfboards. They’re also your go-to destination for lessons, paddleboard yoga, kayak tours, water sports camps, and their very own line of stickers and apparel.

Here you can expect one of the biggest SUP selections in the area. If you’re new to the sport, you can rent a board first and receive a free lesson included with your rental. You’ll also find a huge variety of name-brand lifestyle clothing to complete the experience.  

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http://stepoutside.org/article/9-best-watersport-retailers-in-south-carolina http://stepoutside.org/article/9-best-watersport-retailers-in-south-carolina Fri, 22 Mar 2024 00:00:00 -0500
5 Beautiful Backpack Camping Spots in South Carolina If you’ve only ever camped in an RV park, you haven’t really camped. Nothing compares to a night under the starry skies, especially when you’re camping miles away from modern society and enjoying the great outdoors the way nature intended. And all you need is a well-packed backpack and good hiking shoes to experience it all. Head to these five beautiful backpack camping spots in South Carolina and discover what camping should be like. 

Starting at Table Rock State Park, this 17.2-mile out-and-back trip takes you to the two highest peaks of the state. During your hike, you’ll catch an eye-full of the miraculous 400-foot-drop waterfall, the highest in the East. You’ll make camp at the old stone farmhouse, where you’ll find that other hikers have made creative uses with the old rocks here. From here, it’s a 4.4-mile roundtrip to the top of Sassafras Mountain, the highest point in South Carolina. You can leave your gear behind to make the climb easier, then pick it up on your way back to civilization.

Throughout the park, you’ll find a variety of backpack camping sites to take you miles away from everything. However, they do require a reservation ahead of time, along with an arrival of two hours before the park closes to ensure you have enough time to reach your campsite safely. Opt for the Pinnacle Pass Loop, which takes you on a 10-mile excursion of the scenic park. The trail leads to a rock outcropping that offers the best view in the park. The camping along Pinnacle Pass is trailside only.

South Carolina’s unique location features a variety of hike-worthy terrain, including its little-explored swamps. To get a true feel for the state’s varied ecosystems, head to the River Trail in Congaree National Park, where you’ll venture into the heart of the floodplain. This 10-mile “lollipop” takes you along footbridges and boardwalks to the Congaree River. Though there are no true campsites in the backcountry, you will need to grab a free permit before setting up camp.

Running beside the famed Chattooga River (the same river in the movie “Deliverance”), this 15.5-mile beauty takes you on a wooded journey along the Georgia/South Carolina border. The trail crisscrosses with the Foothills and Bartram trails at points, so a map is extremely helpful in staying on course. You can set up camp in Burrell’s Ford campground (more than 13 miles from the southern trailhead) or in a plethora of places along the trail. This is certainly a camping trip for those who love waterfalls—you’ll see a fair few if you hike the entire trail!

The Palmetto Trail spans multiple states, but this 47-mile passage is the longest section. If you decide to hike the entire stretch, you’ll traverse a variety of landscapes, including a swampy area and miles of forested flatlands. The campsites here are about as primitive as they come, so make sure you pack accordingly. However, there’s a good chance you’ll spot some local wildlife, including deer and birds. This makes the entire trip worthwhile.

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http://stepoutside.org/article/5-beautiful-backpack-camping-spots-in-south-carolina http://stepoutside.org/article/5-beautiful-backpack-camping-spots-in-south-carolina Wed, 20 Mar 2024 00:00:00 -0500
SPOTLIGHT: Things to Do in and Around Oconee State Park The best getaways don’t always consist of warm sandy beaches, spas, and all-you-can-eat restaurants, nor do they have to cost a fortune. If you’ve ever vacationed at a state park, you already know this is true. State parks are the all-inclusive “resort” for those who love the great outdoors and don’t want to spend their life savings on a vacation. Most of the state parks in South Carolina offer everything you could possibly want from a few days in the great outdoors. Best of all, a vacation to a state park gives you plenty of time to focus on family and make memories that will last a lifetime.

Tucked against the Blue Ridge Mountains lies one of Oconee County’s best kept secrets—Oconee State Park. This small yet amazing state park is your perfect mountain getaway, offering miles of hiking and biking trails, swimming area, canoe rentals, fishing, mini golf, and a slew of other family favorite activities. You’ll feel like you’re in the middle of nowhere, but won’t have to sacrifice modern conveniences like running water, electricity, and Wi-Fi.

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One of the most unique wonders of the Upstate, Stumphouse Tunnel is the failed attempt to create a rail line connecting Charleston, South Carolina to Nashville, Tennessee. The onset of the Civil War brought the project to a grinding halt, but visitors can enter the one-way tunnel. Clemson University once used the tunnel to cure their famous Bleu Cheese.

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Accessible from the Stumphouse Tunnel parking lot, embark on a short hike to Issaqueena Falls, one of the most popular and beautiful waterfalls in the area. The easy trail is ideal for kids and adults of all hiking skill levels. Access to the falls is free.

This museum gives you a glimpse into the culture and history of Oconee County, including railroads, textiles, immigration, Native Americans, and a special children’s corner where kids can have fun learning. Entry to the museum is free, but donations are encouraged.

A local’s favorite, this cafeteria-style eatery has won the hearts of many with its wide variety of cuisine. You’ll feel right at home with cookin’ just like grandma used to make. The fried chicken alone is worth the trip.

the best fried chicken in the world

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This charming mountainside apple orchard and farm is a favorite place among locals and tourists alike. Often the backdrop for weddings and special events, visitors can explore the fresh marketplace for fruits, grass-fed beef, and brandy distilled on-site. They also feature a disc golf course and farm tours.

If you want to eat like a local, eat where the locals eat! Mountain View Restaurant is a must-stop for steak, seafood, chicken, and all the country fixings. They’re serving up all three meals of the day, so there’s never a bad time to stop.

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http://stepoutside.org/article/spotlight-things-to-do-in-and-around-oconee-state-park http://stepoutside.org/article/spotlight-things-to-do-in-and-around-oconee-state-park Sun, 10 Mar 2024 00:00:00 -0600
Making the Most of Cheraw State Park There’s a seemingly infinite number of things to do in South Carolina, but the state parks here are among the most popular activities for a reason. The state’s perfect location near both coast and mountains means you’ll find a variety of activities within the parks to suit every type of adventure. Among the most beautiful? The scenic Cheraw State Park. With its ample wildlife viewing opportunities, trails to explore, and opportunity for water activities, you’ll never want to leave. Here’s how to make the most out of Cheraw. 

Start with a trip to Cheraw State Park, one of the top state parks in South Carolina thanks to its abundance of trails and recreational activities, including bird watching, geocaching, and pedal boat rentals. Located in the Midlands, Cheraw State Park is situated in an advantageous mix of pine forests and wetlands, complete with a lake for fishing, swimming, boating, and other watersports. Best of all, admission to this state park is completely free. 

There are a few hiking, biking, and equestrian trails in the park to suit every preference. The most popular is the half-mile out-and-back Boardwalk Trail that takes you over the lake to the Lake Juniper Dam. Along the way, you may spot the area’s prized waterfowl, bald eagles, five-lined skinks, painted and yellow-bellied turtles, or water snakes, as well as the endangered pine barrens tree frog. It’s an easy hike that’s suitable for all skill levels and ages, and offers plenty to see during your short trek.

The Cheraw Nature and Turkey Oak Trails lead to one of the most scenic areas in the park—the cypress swamp. This easy-rated system of loops takes you through beautiful forested areas, showing you wildlife such as deer, snakes, lizards, and perhaps the endangered red cockaded woodpecker. Once you reach the spur, continue on the Turkey Oak Trail that will take you to the swamp. Or, you can explore the area by canoe or kayak for a chance to get a closer look.

The park offers a few types of accommodations for those looking to get more from their visit. They feature pull-through sites for RVs, tent camping, boat-in camping at the landing, and primitive campsites for large groups. If you prefer not to sacrifice most of your modern conveniences, you can book a stay in one of their cabins.

While you’re in the area, take advantage of all that charming Cheraw has to offer. Their Historic Cheraw Cell Phone Tour takes you to 25 different historic sites in the town, at your convenience. You’ll play a short video on your cell phone at each stop to learn more about it. Cheraw’s rich history stemming from the Civil War is a mainstay on this tour.

Jazz legend Dizzy Gillespie was born and raised in Cheraw, and you can visit the site of his childhood home. Though the structure is no longer standing, the site holds its significance to the community. In its place is a park dedicated to the man who brought beloved jazz music to so many ears. The park is also within walking distance to other places that played a role in Gillespie’s life.

Cheraw’s fish hatchery raises and distributes over two million fish every year, making it a vital piece to the area’s economy and ecosystem. You can bring a picnic lunch and enjoy it at one of their tables and explore the hatchery up close and personal. You will need to schedule a tour ahead of time, but admission to the fish hatchery is free.

If you’re looking to taste some local flavor, pull up a seat at River’s Edge. There’s something on the menu to suit every appetite, including a salad bar, soups and sandwiches, burgers, steaks, chicken, and a whole heaping helping of baked goods. Just make sure you save room for dessert—indulgence is a must!

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http://stepoutside.org/article/making-the-most-of-cheraw-state-park http://stepoutside.org/article/making-the-most-of-cheraw-state-park Fri, 01 Mar 2024 00:00:00 -0600