South Carolina’s wide diversity of landscape means there are endless ways to get out and enjoy the outdoors.
If you’re looking for high adventure you’ll find it in the northwest corner of the state along the Chattooga River, South Carolina’s only designated National Wild and Scenic River. The Chattooga runs along the South Carolina-Georgia border and offers opportunities for kayakers to take on Class IV and V rapids, and for non-paddlers to enjoy a guided rafting trip. Both the Nantahala Outdoor Center and Wildwater outfitters provide whitewater rafting trips, and Wildwater lets guests zip line through the treetops in the Blue Ridge foothills.
A strenuous hike isn’t necessary to access the beauty of one of the many waterfalls in South Carolina’s upstate. Raven Cliff Falls is the state’s tallest waterfall at more than 400-feet high, and a 4.4-mile mostly-level hike (round trip) ends at a platform that allows you to view the falls from a distance. More experienced hikers can tackle the strenuous 8.8-mile trail that leads to a suspension bridge offering view of the falls and creek below. Wildcat Branch Falls is visible from Cherokee Foothills Scenic Highway 11, and a short walk from the parking lot takes you to Issaqueena Falls, a 200-foot cascade near Walhalla.
Getting a bird’s eye view of the landscape is one of the best ways to take in the natural beauty. At 3,200-feet above sea level, the view from the overlook at Caesars Head State Park extends into the North Carolina and Georgia mountains, and is especially popular when the fall foliage reaches its peak. Hard work doesn’t go unrewarded for those who hike the challenging 6.8-mile roundtrip trail that leads to the top of Table Rock Mountain, another high point with unparalleled views of the Blue Ridge Mountains. At the other end of the state, visitors who climb the 167-steps of the the Hunting Island Lighthouse are treated to stunning views of the Atlantic Ocean and surrounding maritime forest.
There isn’t a more perfect sanctuary for outdoor enthusiasts than the 350,000-acres of undeveloped estuary that comprise the ACE Basin in South Carolina’s Lowcountry. The refuge is home to an abundance of wildlife and numerous waterways and nature trails to explore. Paddlers can enjoy a float trip on one of the various creeks or three rivers that give the refuge its name, the Ashepoo, Combahee and Edisto. To get up close and personal with the habitat try a hike on one of the nature trails at Edisto Beach State Park or Caw Caw Interpretive Center, or hop on a bike and enjoy a pedal down Bennett’s Point Road to Bear Island Wildlife Management Area.