Take a Scenic Drive Along One of South Carolina’s Prettiest Mountain Roads

By:Marie McAden

Date:7/27/2017

At just 20 miles long, the Oscar Wigington Scenic Byway might not sound like much of a mountain drive. But this winding, two-lane road takes you past a dozen must-see attractions – and one of the most spectacular overlooks in the South Carolina upstate.

Running along SC 107 through Sumter National Forest, the little-traveled route offers easy access to several stunning waterfalls, the Walhalla Fish Hatchery, Moody Spring, the Chattooga River, state and national forest campgrounds and miles of hiking trails.

Among its many highlights is the Wigington Overlook, offering stunning views of Lake Jocassee and the Blue Ridge Mountains. The pull off is located on SC 413, which veers off SC Highway 107 just before it crosses the state line.

Named after a tree farmer and former mayor of the upstate town of Salem, the Wigington Byway starts at its intersection with the better-known and much longer Cherokee Foothills National Scenic Byway. Lined on both sides by remote forestland, the road is especially beautiful during the fall color season and in early summer when the rhododendron are blooming.

As you make your way north along the roadway you’ll have plenty of opportunity to stop at turnouts and take in the panorama of the mountains or have lunch in a wayside picnic area. There are also plenty of places to pitch a tent or park an RV, including Burrells Ford Campground along the Chattooga River and Cherry Hill Recreation Area, one of the nicest national forest campgrounds in the Southern Appalachians.

Whether you’re driving through or planning an extended stay, you won’t have any trouble filling up your itinerary. Here are just some of the stops you can make while traveling the Oscar Wigington Scenic Byway:

Oconee State Park. With more than 150 wooded campsites and 19 historic cabins, the 1,165-acre park is another sweet spot to bed down for a weekend or a week. The park features a large lake with a swimming area and fishing pier and six hiking trails. One of them leads to Hidden Falls, another to Tamassee Knob.

Spoonauger, King Creek and Lower Whitewater Falls. One of the most dramatic waterfalls in the upstate, the 200-foot Lower Whitewater Falls is accessed through Duke Power’s Bad Creek Hydroelectric Station. It will take you about an hour to hike to the overlook. A spur road off the byway takes you to the trailheads for Spoonauger and King Creek Falls. Spoonauger is an easy 20-minute hike. King Creek, located a mile away, is more strenuous, but worth the effort.

Hiking Trails. So many trails, so little time. You can hop on the famed Foothills Trail from several access points along the road. Another area gem is the 15-mile Chattooga River Trail, which runs along the national wild and scenic river. For a less ambitious hike, try the Winding Stairs Trail, a 3.5-mile footpath with a spur to Miuka Falls.

Moody Spring. Located on the east side of the road just north of Cherry Hill Recreation Area, this natural spring is a great place to fill up on cool mountain water.

Airplane Crash Site. A monument marks the area where an Air Force B25C crashed in 1943, claiming the lives of five airmen.

Walhalla Fish Hatchery. Approximately 500,000 brown, brook and rainbow trout are raised in this cold water fish hatchery used to stock state rivers and lakes.

Chattooga River. Wildwater Rafting and the Nantahala Outdoor Center offer rafting trips on Section III and IV of this national wild and scenic whitewater river. The Chattooga is also a favorite fishing destination for trout.

You can pick up maps of the area and its trails at the Andrew Pickens Ranger District in nearby Walhalla.

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