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Out-of-the-Park Adventures: Table Rock State Park

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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Got cabin fever? Hit the road with your own accommodations for a socially distanced vacation in a South Carolina state park campground. With 33 parks offering campsites for tents and RVs, you’re sure to find the perfect spot for an out-of-the-way getaway. Some parks even feature lodging for those who prefer to stay in a cabin or villa.                                                                               

Along with their many recreational amenities and beautiful settings, state parks offer visitors the opportunity to explore less-traveled areas of the state and discover small towns and communities with a rich history and unique attractions.

Ready to roll? Here’s a two-day, out-of-the-park itinerary for Table Rock State Park

Home to one of South Carolina’s most recognized natural landmarks, Table Rock State Park offers several memorable hiking trails, including one to the famed granite dome, as well as a historic lodge, scenic picnic areas and lakes for swimming, paddling and fishing.

Park features:

  • 94 campsites with individual water and electrical hookups and convenient access to restrooms with hot showers
  • 14 updated cabins, including nine built by the Civilian Conservation Corps

Day 1

Go local and start your day with breakfast at Pumpkintown General Store. An Upstate landmark established in 1938, this general store and restaurant features all the usual breakfast favorites—omelets, grits, eggs, bacon, sausage, pancakes and biscuits—served by a friendly staff in a down-home setting.

Then saddle up for an Upstate adventure you won’t soon forget. Book a ride through the backcountry with Horseback Waterfall Tours and experience the beauty of the mountains without the effort. Rockin’ Reverend Ranch in Pumpkintown provides the horses—Tennessee Walkers, known for their smooth gait and easy temper. 

After your ride, mosey over to Pumpkintown Mountain Opry for a sandwich or burger and ice cream for dessert. The restaurant and general store are housed in a building straight out of the Old West but the food is modern-day delicious. On your way out, pick up a jar of local honey or preserves to take back home.

Work off a few of the calories you consumed at lunch with a short hike along Wildcat Branch Falls. While most people are familiar with the lower section of the cascade, which can be seen driving along the National Cherokee Foothills Scenic Highway, the 100-foot upper falls is one of the area’s best-kept secrets. The trailhead to the upper section can be found to the left of the lower falls.

The last stop of the day is Aunt Sue’s Country Corner where you can shop several specialty stores in the complex of wooden buildings and sit and relax on a front porch rocker. When you’re ready to eat, check out Aunt Sue’s restaurant offering a variety of home-cooked options, including fried green tomatoes, deli sandwiches, burgers and daily specials. If you visit on a Friday night, you’ll be treated to live bluegrass music performed by local bands.

Day 2

Today, you head up to the 12,000-acre Mountain Bridge Wilderness Area for some laid-back sightseeing. While the area is known for its 50-plus miles of hiking trails, it also offers some easy-to-get-to overlooks with outstanding views.

Among the showstoppers is Symmes Chapel, also known as Pretty Place. Located in YMCA Camp Greenville, the chapel sits atop Stone Mountain, looking out at the Blue Ridge Mountains. Visitors are welcome to enjoy the view from sunrise to sunset except during private events. Click here for the chapel schedule.

Next up is the granite outcropping at Caesars Head State Park. From this spot, you’ll get a stunning panorama of the Blue Ridge Escarpment. In the fall, the updrafts created by thermal winds are used by migrating raptors as they make their way along the Appalachian Flyway to Central and South America. The annual Hawk Watch is an extraordinary natural phenomenon not to be missed.

Before you make your way down the mountain, stop at Mountain House Restaurant at Caesars Head for a bite to eat. Perched at a 3,200-foot elevation, it offers simple sammies like homemade chicken salad and tuna salad, along with daily specials. Be sure to leave room for some homemade fudge or ice cream.

On the drive back to Pickens, you’ll pass Bald Rock Heritage Preserve and its natural scenic overlook. The huge outcropping provides a perfect vantage point to see Table Rock and the foothills of Pickens and Greenville counties.

Teetotalers will love the next stop—Table Rock Tea Company. Located on 17 acres in the shadow of Table Rock Mountain, the tea farm and its processing facility are open for tours Thursday through Sunday. To schedule a visit, call 864.915.0571.

End your Upstate outing at the beautiful Victoria Valley Vineyards, a traditional winemaking operation designed in the style of a French chateau. Take a spot on the terrace, order a cheese board and a bottle of wine, and relax as you enjoy the mountain vista and the end of another fantastic day in the South Carolina Upstate.

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.