Outdoor

Marie McAden

SOUTH CAROLINA INSIDER

 

Road to “hallmark view” now open year round

Posted 7/15/2013 1:15:00 PM

If you had traveled to the Upstate last summer to visit Jumping Off Rock — the iconic overlook with the “hallmark view” of the Jocassee Gorges — you would have been out of luck.

For resource and safety reasons, the S.C. Department of Natural Resources limited vehicular traffic to the site to the spring and fall seasons.

Not anymore. Spurred by an increasing demand for access to one of the state’s most scenic overlooks, the DNR is now allowing visitors to drive year-round on Horse Pasture Road, the primitive gravel drive that ascends steeply to the 2,000-foot rock precipice. (It’s still off limits to ATVS from May 11 to Sept. 14 and Jan. 16 to March 19.)

Overlooking Lake Jocassee and the surrounding Blue Ridge Mountains, Jumping Off Rock offers one of the most stunning vistas in the Upstate. What makes the view from the rocky cliff so extraordinary is the lack of development anywhere in sight. It’s just mountains, trees and the gorgeous crystal clear waters of Lake Jocassee.

Jumping Off Rock is located in the beautiful Jocassee Gorges in Pickens County. The underrated wilderness jewel was recently included in a National Geographic special edition highlighting “50 of the World’s Last Great Places.”

While the rugged terrain is as beautiful as any you will see in the Blue Ridge Escarpment, it’s best suited for SUVs and other high-clearance vehicles. The DNR has done much to improve the trek up the mountain, but it’s still slow-going on this twisty, bumpy road.

But that’s OK. It makes it easier to enjoy the scenery. Along the nine-mile ride are several small waterfalls and six other overlooks, offering spectacular views of Jocassee Gorges’ vast and undisturbed landscape.

Other seasonally operated roads in the Jocassee management area are open from March 10 to May 20 and Sept. 15 to January 15. (ATV access to the roads also is limited to those time periods.)

You can pick up a map of the Jocassee Gorges and a complete list of regulations pertaining to the property from kiosks located at entrances to the management area and state parks along the S.C. 11 corridor. For more information, click here or call the DNR’s Jocassee Field Office at (864) 878-9071.