As mountain retreats go, Paris Mountain State Park checks off all the boxes. You've got your picturesque lake for swimming and canoeing, trails for hiking and mountain biking, a secluded fishing hole stocked with bream, bass and catfish and a 1930s lodge straight out of a Norman Rockwell painting.
But more important than what it has is where it is. The park is just six miles from Greenville and its bustling downtown, making it an easy escape for city dwellers and visitors to the area.
Built by the Civilian Conservation Corps during the Great Depression, the park was once the Upstate's go-to destination for affordable family vacations. A photo in the Park Center shows hoards of happy guests cooling off in its centerpiece watering hole - Lake Placid.
Fast forward to the new millennium and the picture is almost identical - except for the vintage swimwear. The lake still draws crowds every summer looking for old fashioned fun.
In addition to swimming, you can rent canoes, kayaks and peddle boats to cruise around the eight-acre lake. It's also a sweet fishing spot for bream, bass and catfish. If you'd prefer a more secluded lake to drop your line, the park offers a 15-acre reservoir at the far end of the property. You'll have to hike two miles to get there, but you'll get all the peace and quiet you can stand.
This time of year, the park's 15 miles of hiking and biking trails are the big draw. The mountain (it's really a monadnock - a mountain that rises out of otherwise flat land) offers plenty of challenges for those looking to get in a good workout. I'll tell you about one of the most popular trails in an upcoming blog post.
The park is also known for its primo campground. All 39 campsites are paved and 13 of them feature tent pads. Some accommodate RVs up to 40 feet long, others up to 35 feet. If you really want to get off on your own, try one of the trailside campsites along the North Lake Trail Loop.
For large groups (up to 40 people), there's the recently renovated Camp Buckhorn, a lodge with 10 primitive cabins. Six picnic shelters also are available for family and group gatherings.
Want more information on Paris Mountain State Park? Click here or call (864) 244-5565.