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8 South Carolina State Parks That Offer Old-Fashioned Swimming Holes

Marie McAden Marie McAden

Did your grandparents ever tell you about the summers they spent cooling off in the ol' swimming hole? You too can experience the simple pleasures of a refreshing dip in a pond at eight of South Carolina's state parks.

With these small lakes scattered about the state, it's easy to work a side trip into your weeklong vacation. Pack a picnic lunch and a Frisbee and you have a full day of family fun. If you're traveling with an adventurous crew, check out Oconee or Table Rock state parks. Both of their lakes feature diving boards.

At five of the parks, no lifeguards are posted, but the swimming areas - marked off by buoys and ropes - are shallow enough to allow adults to wade in the water.

Eight state parks offering lake swimming include:

1. Aiken State Park The designated swimming area in the 14-acre spring-fed Main Pond is open from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. through mid-October. No lifeguard. Swimming is free with admission to park.

2. Barnwell State Park Swimming area in the 18-acre Lower Lake is open 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day. No lifeguard. Free admission.

3. Cheraw State Park The swimming area in the 360-acre Lake Juniper is open daily from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Memorial Day weekend to Labor Day. No lifeguard. Free admission.

4. Lee State ParkThe artesian spring-fed lake is open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Memorial Day weekend to Labor Day. No lifeguard. Free admission.

5. Oconee State Park The swimming area in the 20-acre lake features low and high diving boards. Opens for weekend use on Memorial Day weekend. Starting June 10, swimming hours are 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Sunday. After Aug. 17, open weekends only through Labor Day. Lifeguard on duty. Free with park admission.

6. Paris Mountain State ParkThe swimming area in the 15-acre Lake Placid is open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Friday and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday from June 12 through mid-August and then weekends only until Labor Day. Fee is $2 for swimmers 16 and older and $1.50 for children ages 5-12. Lifeguard on duty.

7. Poinsett State Park The swimming area in 10-acre Levis Mill Lake is open from 9 a.m. to an hour before dark Memorial Day weekend to Labor Day. No lifeguard. Free admission.

8. Table Rock State ParkThe swimming area in the 36-acre Pinnacle Lake features low and high diving boards and a sandy beach. Open seasonally upon availability of lifeguards. Fee is $2 for swimmers 12 and older and $1.50 for children ages 4-11. Lifeguard on duty.

Marie McAden
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