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

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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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. 

No lifeguards are posted at most of the parks, 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

Make a splash in Aiken State Park's designated swimming area. Credit: SCPRT/Photo by Heidi Stone

The designated swimming area in the 14-acre spring-fed Main Pond at Aiken State Park is open from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day. Swimming is free with admission to the park.

 

2. Barnwell State Park

Your kids will love swimming at Barnwell State Park. Credit: SCPRT/Photo by Heidi Stone

The swimming area in the 18-acre Lower Lake at Barnwell State Park is open Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day. Swimming is free with admission to the park.

 

3. Cheraw State Park

Lake Juniper is a fun place to cool off in the summer.

The swimming area in the 360-acre Lake Juniper at Cheraw State Park is open from Memorial Day weekend to Labor Day. Swimming is free with admission to the park.

 

4. Lee State Park

You can go for a swim at Lee State Park.

The artesian spring-fed lake at Lee State Park is open from Memorial Day weekend to Labor Day. Swimming is free with admission to the park.

 

5. Oconee State Park

Oconee's swimming hole is one of the many family-friendly amenities in the state park.

The swimming area in the 20-acre lake at Oconee State Park is open Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day. Swimming is free with admission to the park.

 

6. Paris Mountain State Park

Lake Placid at Paris Mountain State Park is a fun place to cool off in the summer.

The swimming area in the 15-acre Lake Placid at Paris Mountain State Park is open seasonally from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Swimming is only allowed in the roped-off swimming area. Swimming is free with admission to the park.

 

7. Poinsett State Park

Take a dip in the designated swimming area at Poinsett State Park. Credit: SCPRT/Photo by Heidi Stone

7. The swimming area in 10-acre Levis Mill Lake at Poinsett State Park is open from Memorial Day weekend to Labor Day. Swimming is free with admission to the park.

 

8. Table Rock State Park

Table Rock State Park's designated swimming area is a popular place to cool off in the summer. Credit: SCPRT/Photo by Heidi Stone

The swimming area in the 36-acre Pinnacle Lake at Table Rock State Park features a sandy beach. Swimming is at your own risk but lifeguards are on duty seasonally from Memorial Day weekend to Labor Day. Swimming is free with park admission. 

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.