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5 of the Best Outdoor Outings Outside Spartanburg

Marie McAden Marie McAden
A former staffer with The Miami Herald, Marie moved to SC in 1992. She is passionate about the outdoors, and enjoys exploring the state’s many natural treasures from the Lowcountry to the Upstate.
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Whether you're a history buff, an avid angler, enjoy hiking in the woods or paddling scenic rivers, you'll find plenty of options for outdoor fun on a visit to Spartanburg.

Located in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, this Upstate city is just minutes from a blueway kayak trail, a 1,500-acre fishing lake, a state park with 35 miles of hiking and biking trails, a nature preserve and Cowpens National Battlefield.

Here are five outdoor excursions you won't want to miss on your next visit to Spartanburg:

1. Fishing on Lake Bowen

You'll find plenty of action on this Upstate lake, formed by the waters of the South Pacolet River and its tributaries. With a little patience and some scouting, you can catch crappie, largemouth bass, black bass and several varieties of catfish. Look for drop offs and old river channels with rocks or drop your hook near trees, shrubs and vegetation where the fish feed. Anchor Park near Boiling Springs offers two boat ramps and lots of waterfront shoreline to cast your line.

2. Paddle the Pacolet and Lawson's Fork Blueway

With its long stretch of sandy shoreline, Clifton Park and Beach off Goldmine Road is one of the best spots to put in your boat for a pleasant 8-mile paddle on this pretty, mostly placid river. But before you can kick back and enjoy the scenery, you'll be treated to a fun dose of Class II rapids. You'll encounter the beginner-level whitewater as you navigate through a series of rocky shoals in the first mile of the paddle. The relaxing part of the trip will begin after you pass the confluence with Lawson's Fork. Take out is on Sunny Acres Road in the Town of Pacolet.

3. Hike in Croft State Park

An army training center during World War II, this state park offers miles of trails through more than 7,000 acres of rolling, wooded terrain. If you're looking for an easy walk, try the Nature Trail, a 1.5-mile loop through a mixed pine and hardwood forest. Pack a lunch or snack to enjoy on the rocky shoals of Fairforest Creek. A much longer alternative is the 12.6-mile Croft Passage of the Palmetto Trail. It crosses brooks, follows ridges and meanders along portions of Kelsey Creek to the historic Cedar Springs area. Along the way, you'll find the remains of old homesteads and traverse a 65-foot-long expansion bridge over Fairforest Creek.

4. Visit Cowpens National Battlefield

Your first stop at this historic site in Gaffney should be the Visitor Center where you can watch "Cowpens: A Battle Remembered." It will give you an overview of the famed Revolutionary War skirmish that pitted a crack army of Redcoats against a scrappy force of Southern soldiers and backwoods militiamen. Check out the exhibits in the museum, then head outside and walk the 1.25-mile loop trail to the pastureland where the one-hour battle took place Jan. 17, 1781. The park service also offers free one-hour, ranger-guided tours of the battlefield.

5. Explore Glendale Shoals Preserve

Located at the old Glendale Mill on Lawson's Fork Creek, this 13-acre nature preserve is a sweet outdoor getaway with a rich history dating back to the 1830s. Visitors are welcome to stroll among the remains of the Bivingsville Cotton Factory, as well as a garden tended by Wofford College's Goodall Environmental Studies Center. There's also a shady walking trail on the opposite side of the river. When the water is low, you can hopscotch across shoals for a closer view of the rapids and the waterfall that cascades over a dam.

Marie McAden
A former staffer with The Miami Herald, Marie moved to SC in 1992. She is passionate about the outdoors, and enjoys exploring the state’s many natural treasures from the Lowcountry to the Upstate.