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5 Days Exploring Devils Fork State Park and the Upstate

Outdoor Adventure / Mountains / 4+ Days

Devils Fork State Park is a true haven for outdoor enthusiasts, where your adventure unfolds amid breathtaking natural beauty. Picture this: fly fishing in crystal-clear waters, embarking on exhilarating hikes, camping beneath starlit skies, and gliding across tranquil lakes on a paddleboard. But that's just the tip of the iceberg at this Upstate mountain retreat.

The park provides the only public access to Lake Jocassee, a largely undeveloped 7,500-acre reservoir tucked deep into the Blue Ridge and encompassed by the Jocassee Gorges.

With lodging options to suit any outdoor enthusiast, including 20 fully equipped villas, there’s no need to be an avid camper to enjoy a stay at Devils Fork State Park. While there is a supply store a few minutes drive from the park’s entrance, there aren't many nearby options for dinner, groceries or other supplies, so most visitors prefer to bring their own provisions. Check the park’s store for any forgotten essentials.

Situated along SC Scenic Highway 11, Devils Fork State Park serves as your ideal launchpad for exploring the Upcountry. To enhance your stay, we've handpicked a selection of must-visit destinations for your day trips.

panoramic view of lake Jocassee
Lake Jocassee’s natural beauty will take your breath away.

Settling in and Hiking at Devils Fork

When you first arrive at Devils Fork, you'll spend some time setting up camp or moving into your villa. Once you're settled, though, you'll want to start exploring right away.

Start with the Oconee Bell Nature Trail, a moderate 1.5-mile loop that gets its name from a rare wildflower with gorgeous white blossoms that bloom from mid-March to early April. The trail, which is easily identifiable due to its white markers, starts at the parking lot near the rear of the Ranger Station. The path runs alongside a creek as it winds through a predominantly hardwood forest. As you meander along the trail, you'll encounter well-placed benches, offering ideal spots to unwind and immerse yourself in the vibrant forest sounds. Additionally, this trail boasts a charming small pond that serves as an excellent location for observing aquatic life.

If you're interested in a longer hike, check out the Lower Whitewater Falls Trail, located just a 30-minute drive northwest of the park. A 5-mile round-trip hike starts from the Bad Creek Pumped Storage Project and will take you to the Lower Whitewater Falls overlook. You'll agree that the view is worth the hike as you stand on the overlook while listening to the mesmerizing roar of the 200-foot drop of the cascade down a rock face into the Jocassee Gorges area, a protected area of some 43,000 acres.

In the evening, settle in by the campfire or on your villa's screened porch. Never pass up an opportunity to roast hot dogs and marshmallows or to make a few s'mores.

Travel Tip
Travel Tip:

Rent a canoe or kayak and paddle your way around Lake Jocassee to experience what National Geographic calls one of the “World’s Last Great Places.”

one of the villas for rent at Devils Fork State Park; a woman explores the woods in the fall
With 20 fully equipped villas, Devils Fork State Park caters to outdoor enthusiasts of all kinds, ensuring a comfortable stay amid the wilderness.

Explore Lake Jocassee's Beauty from the Water

Lake Jocassee, a 7,500-acre spectacular mountain lake, is nothing short of a boater's paradise, and it is best appreciated from the water. If you have your own boat or kayak, you'll definitely want to bring it along for this trip. You can also rent canoes, paddleboards and other boating equipment from local outfitters.

Spend the day cruising the lake, waterskiing, tubing or wakeboarding. Comb the shoreline for hiking trails and swimming holes. Explore a few of the waterfalls that empty into the lake and some of the nearby islands.

If fishing is your thing, Lake Jocassee offers some of the best trout fishing to be found in the state. Lake Jocassee holds the state records for redeye bass, smallmouth bass, spotted bass, brown trout and rainbow trout, so it doesn't matter whether you like to fly fish or use a standard rod and reel; there's fishing here to suit your fancy.

Ideally, dinner this night would be trout cooked over the campfire. If you're a little less than successful at catching enough to cook, you could head to the Walhalla Steak House in nearby Walhalla. Despite its name, it has a reputation for fried chicken. They're also known for Southern favorites like turnip greens and fried okra.

A woman paddleboards; a man drives a boat
The park provides exclusive public access to Lake Jocassee. Paddleboarding and boating are great ways to experience the lake.

Uncover the Underwater Mysteries of Lake Jocassee

Go scuba diving. Yes, that's right—scuba diving in the lake.

Lake Jocassee is filled with some of the clearest water in the Southeast, providing excellent visibility— usually more than 15 feet and is more than 50 feet at some depths—for all types of divers.

There are some pretty unusual things to see and explore once you get underwater. The lake was created on the site of what once was a thriving mountain town and many of the town structures are still intact. So, put on your tanks and check out the sunken junk (boat), the cemetery, the old inn and even a basketball court. Where else can you play underwater basketball with a bowling ball?

Located near the park entrance, the Jocassee Dive Shop can provide you with all the equipment and guidance you need to discover the hidden gems that lie on the bottom of the lake's floor.

If you want to venture out after your underwater adventure, head down Highway 11 to nearby Walhalla and try the fried chicken at the Steak House Cafeteria. It's open for dinner Thursday – Sunday.

Travel Tip
Travel Tip:

If scuba diving isn’t for you, there are plenty of other adventures nearby. Take a drive and look for larger-than-life quilts painted on the side of homes and businesses along the Upstate Heritage Quilt Trail, or visit Kudzu Kabin Designs, the home and studio of Native American artist Nancy Baske who turns natural materials into works of art.

scuba divers in Lake Jocassee
Lake Jocassee is filled with some of the clearest water in the Southeast, providing excellent visibility for all types of divers.

Day Trip to Table Rock State Park

Located just 21 miles from Devils Fork State Park, Table Rock State Park has an extensive system of trails that lead hikers by streams, waterfalls and stunning views as they make their way to the top of Table Rock Mountain. One of the most popular trails in South Carolina, Table Rock Trail, is a highly strenuous trek that covers 3.4 miles and ascends 2,000 feet to the summit of Table Rock Mountain. The wide, flat rock makes you feel like you're alone on top of the world and there's no view quite like it.

If a day-long hike isn’t at the top of your to-do list, enjoy a walk along Carrick Creek Trail or cool off at an old-fashioned swimming hole on Lake Pinnacle. Canoes, kayaks and pedal boats are available to rent at the park visitor center and offer a fun way to enjoy the park’s two lakes.

On the drive back, stop for dinner and ice cream at Aunt Sue's Country Corner, a local fixture that often has live music on the porch on weekends.

Table Rock Mountain surrounded by trees with fall foliage
Towering Table Rock Mountain, which gives the park its name, is one of South Carolina’s most iconic landmarks and serves as a backdrop for the 3,000-acre park and its facilities.

Last Chance Thrills

All good trips must come to an end, but that doesn't mean you can't go out on a high note. After striking camp or checking out of your villa, head down Highway 11 again toward the community of Long Creek for one last adventure—this time along the Chattooga River.

You can take a mini whitewater rafting trip or zip line tour at Wildwater Ltd. for that last high-energy adrenaline rush. The whitewater trip takes you over the Class IV Bull Sluice rapids. And the zip line canopy tour lets you fly from tree to tree, over the water and beyond, with more than a half mile of zips. It makes going out on a high note a thing of beauty. Make reservations ahead of time so you'll be sure to get the time spot you want.

After you leave, treat yourself to some smoky, slow-cooked South Carolina barbecue as you head home. There are several excellent barbecue restaurants in the area that will be more than happy to help make your return to civilization a welcome one. Check out The Smokin' Pig in Pendleton or Creekside Bar-Be-Que in Anderson to bring your trip to a tasty conclusion.

a group whitewater rafting; a woman on a zipline
Whether you’re whitewater rafting down the Chattooga River or zip lining through the mountains, you’ll find adventure at every turn in the Upstate.

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