Table Rock, South Carolina’s famed granite dome, looms large in Pickens. But it’s far from the only natural attraction luring visitors to this quaint mountain town.
Perched at the edge of the Jocassee Gorges, Pickens also offers easy access to the pristine Laurel Fork Heritage Preserve and three stunning waterfalls. Add to that a popular rail trail, two golf courses and a new bike park and you have one bodacious array of recreational amenities.
Here are some of the outdoor offerings you won’t want to miss on your visit to Pickens:
Table Rock State Park – Home of the iconic rock-faced mountain, the park offers a network of trails that will take you to the top of Table Rock as well as Pinnacle Mountain, South Carolina’s third-highest point. Built by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) in the 1930s, the 3,000-acre park also features an old-fashioned swimming hole with a high diving board, 94 wooded campsites, 14 cabins—nine built by the CCC—and a restored lodge offering a commanding view of Table Rock Mountain.
From May to December, visitors are invited to sit in on the “Music on the Mountain” bluegrass jam sessions held monthly at the lodge.
Twin Falls – An easy 15-minute walk offers big rewards—a double dose of thundering water dropping over massive granite slabs to come together again for a rippling journey downstream.
Laurel Fork Heritage Preserve – Located along the Blue Ridge Escarpment in the pristine Jocassee Gorges, this 1,361-acre protected wilderness area is a National Audubon Society-designated Important Bird Area and home to the rare Oconee Bell wildflower.
You’ll also find two beautiful waterfalls in the preserve—the 25-foot Virginia Hawkins Falls and Laurel Fork Falls, an 80-foot waterfall that spills through the forest into the crystal-clear waters of Lake Jocassee.
The Doodle Trail – This 7.5-mile multi-use trail follows the route of the “Pickens Doodle” railroad that once carried goods between the town of Easley and the Oolenoy Gap, by way of Pickens. The freight train couldn’t be turned around so it ran in reverse from Easley to Pickens, earning it’s nickname after doodlebugs which only crawl backward.
The mostly flat paved pathway passes through woods, along rolling farmland and scenic pastures, making for a fun family walk or bicycle ride. In Pickens, the trail starts at Doodle Park, the site of the former Pickens Railroad Company headquarters. The park includes a railroad depot museum, picnic pavilion, benches and a train-themed playground.
Town Creek Bike Park – At nearly 100 acres, this new park has become one of the premier off-road bicycling facilities in the South Carolina Upstate. It features an 8-foot-wide paved trail that follows part of the historic route of the Appalachian Lumber Company railroad, a 4,000-foot FlowCoaster, berm turn wall rides, dirt jumps, earthen and wooden rollers, raised half-log trails, wooden banked turns, a single track and a pump track and earthen bowl.
You must sign a waiver and wear a helmet and other protective gear to use the facilities.
Jaycee Park – There’s something for everyone at this city park. Town Creek winds through the 23-acre recreational area with a covered bridge connecting the two sides of the park. Amenities include two lighted tennis courts, a playground, a picnic pavilion, two picnic shelters, youth baseball fields, a senior baseball field and a lighted football field with grandstands.
Pickens Country Club – Opened in 1954, this par-72 course features a mature, traditional layout set in wooded, rolling terrain. Strategically placed sand and grass bunkers challenge players of all levels. Water is in play on only a couple of the holes.
The Rock Golf Club & Resort – Set against the backdrop of the Blue Ridge Mountains, “The Rock” is a stunning 18-hole course that winds through the natural mountain terrain, around Indian burial mounds, and between waterfalls and creeks that feed the Oolenoy River. The signature hole is No. 8, featuring a sliding rock waterfall.