Autumn’s crisp, cool air got you thinking about a trip to the mountains? Stop thinking and get packing. Mother Nature’s dazzling display of color typically peaks around the last week of October to early November in higher elevations like the Mountain Bridge Wilderness Area.
It takes cool nights, sunny days and a healthy amount of rainfall throughout the season to create the brilliant oranges, yellows and reds that will have fall foliage fans oohing and aahing. Along with the arboreal color extravaganza, fall wildflowers like the purple aster and goldenrod are blooming this time of year along the Cherokee Foothills Scenic Highway.
For updates on South Carolina’s fall foliage, visit www.southcarolinaparks.com or look at the current conditions on the Table Rock webcam.
Here are seven great spots to catch the fall color spectacle in the Upcountry:
Pretty Place. A favorite wedding venue, this elevated sweet spot features an open-air chapel overlooking the Mountain Bridge Wilderness Area. A short walk from the parking area is all that’s required to enjoy the spectacular view.
Jumping Off Rock. You don’t need to hike up a mountain to take in the “hallmark view” of the Jocassee Gorges. But fasten your seat belt! It’s a bumpy ride up a winding road to the overlook offering a fantastic view of Lake Jocassee and the Blue Ridge Mountains.
Caesars Head. Set on a huge granite outcropping, the wheelchair-accessible observation platform at Caesars Head State Park offers a breathtaking vista of the Blue Ridge Escarpment rising 2,000 feet from the rolling hills of the piedmont below.
Table Rock. You get two great views from this 3,100-foot-high granite dome: Table Rock Reservoir and Caesars Head from the northeastern edge, and the piedmont and Table Rock State Park’s Pinnacle Lake from the south face. But be prepared for a challenging 3.4-mile climb up 2,000 feet of mountain to experience the fall beauty below the dramatic cliff.
Sassafras Mountain. It’s an easy walk to the highest point in the state, rising 3,553 feet on the border between the two Carolinas in the beautiful Jocassee Gorges. A new observation tower at the pinnacle of Sassafras Mountain puts you over the tree line to take in a 350-degree panorama of the surrounding unspoiled wilderness.
Wigington Overlook. You’ll find the overlook and its dramatic vista along the Oscar Wigington Scenic Byway. It’s a great view any time of year, but it’s especially spectacular in the fall when the leaves on the hickories turn a golden hue and maples explode in a palate of red, yellow and orange. To reach the pull-off, take SC Highway 107 to SC 413.
Bald Rock. This huge rock outcropping in the Bald Rock Heritage Preserve overlooks the foothills of Pickens and Greenville counties. It also offers a phenomenal view of Table Rock. To find the natural overlook, look for cars parked along a small pull-off on U.S. 276 about 5 miles from Caesars Head State Park.