Marie McAden



South Carolina’s highest peak gets new overlook

Posted 2/13/2013 3:55:00 PM

Visitors to Sassafras Mountain — South Carolina’s highest point — now have a spiffy new overlook to enjoy the peak’s Upcountry vista.

The old wooden platform has been replaced by a sleek structure created by a team of Clemson University architecture and landscape architecture graduate students.

One of the coolest features is the sky-blue painted steel railing designed to leave visitors feeling as if they are floating over a rock out-cropping. Although the railing seems to disappear into the expanding horizon, visitors remain safely contained by the wood and steel barrier.

Clemson students built the pre-fabricated structure on the university campus and then transported the platform and its components to the site with the help of the S.C. Department of Natural Resources. The overlook actually sits 80 feet below the top of Sassafras Mountain located in northern Pickens County.

As part of the project, the existing trail from the parking lot to the overlook is being realigned to improve accessibility.

And there’s more in store for this 3,553-foot natural landmark. Plans are in the works to build a 65-foot observation tower on the tippy top, allowing visitors to get a 360-degree view of the surrounding mountains.

From the tower, you’ll be able to see four states — the Carolinas, Georgia and Tennessee — and look down at places like Table Rock and Lake Jocassee.

The DNR is selling bricks to pave the ground below the tower and is seeking contributions from sponsors and individuals. To learn more about the fundraising campaign or make a contribution, click here

Part of the 33,000-acre Jim Timmerman Natural Resources Area at Jocassee Gorges, Sassafras Mountain can be reached by car from Interstate 85. Take Exit 21 and drive north on U.S. 178 to the town of Rocky Bottom, just before the state line. Look for F. Van Clayton Highway (a local road). Drive about five miles up a long hill to the parking lot on top. The overlook is an easy 100-meter walk away.