Great day hikes in South Carolina?
May 24, 2018 1:00 PM   Subscribe

What are some great day hikes that are available within a 2-hour drive from Greenville, South Carolina?

I'm headed down there tomorrow to visit a friend over Memorial Day weekend, and we'd like to go hiking! Two experienced adults and two kids (9 and 11) who are fairly accomplished hikers for their ages. Needs to be within about two hours' drive from Greenville, which unfortunately pretty much rules out Great Smoky Mountains National Park, but much of the Nantahala and Chattahoochee National Forests are in-range. Nice views of relatively-unspoiled wilderness are a big plus, as are trails that are a little less popular and therefore hopefully won't be super duper crowded on a busy weekend like Memorial Day.

Also, bonus question: it looks like bad weather is very likely to derail our hiking plans entirely. Do you have any suggestions for places to go to entertain two grownups and a couple of tweenaged boys on a rainy day in the Greenville area? Hiking recommendations are still very welcome though, as my friend is pretty new to the area and is still exploring and discovering what is available.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (12 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
This may not be what you're looking for, but the Swamp Rabbit Trail runs from Travelers Rest, a nice little town at the foothills, to Greenville. It's an urban hike/bike trail that's about 20mi long, along the Reedy River in what is mostly a greenbelt.
posted by Sunburnt at 1:16 PM on May 24, 2018 [2 favorites]

Knowing where the nice, super-local walking trails are is definitely hugely valuable and I will for sure be checking that out! But yes, I was thinking more along the lines of driving out to a state park or national forest and climbing a mountain.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 1:30 PM on May 24, 2018

The Green River Gorge is a lovely area within about a 45-minute drive of Greenville. The Green River is (anecdotally; I am not a water specialist or a biologist or any expert here) much cleaner than the French Broad up in Asheville, and there's a comparable number of river-related businesses catering to the casual hiker. You can safely walk through little nooks and crannies in the woods because the trail system is fairly diffuse. It's also really pretty.
posted by witchen at 1:38 PM on May 24, 2018 [1 favorite]

The trails around Licklog & Pigpen Falls are pleasant and easy for an all-ages-and-fitness-levels group, but are probably a bit too short and easy for y'all. Maybe try part of the Foothills Trail? I would think traffic depends on which trailhead you start from, and there are a lot.
posted by asperity at 1:38 PM on May 24, 2018 [1 favorite]

I was just at the Congaree National Park (just south of Columbia) to see the synchronous fireflies. They’ll continue for another few days to a week. It’s one of the three places in the USA where you can see them and it was super cool. They also have some really great old growth forests according to the volunteer I talked with but I haven’t gotten to see the park during the daylight. It might be worth an evening hike, picnic, and stay for the fireflies (though it will be busy)
posted by raccoon409 at 2:32 PM on May 24, 2018 [2 favorites]

Not quite what I was thinking of raccoon409, but if there's a day when the rain isn't too horrible that absolutely sounds like a plan, even with the crowds. Synchronous fireflies!
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 2:53 PM on May 24, 2018

At 1h 50m it's at the edge of your defined range, but I just spent last weekend in and around Hot Springs NC and had a great time. Max Patch, Lovers Leap, segments of the Appalachian Trial, lots to explore.

As for rain, you can hike in rainy weather. Just have a good raincoat (with hood) and spare pairs of socks and sneakers for when you reach the end of the hike. Worked for me!
posted by intermod at 4:26 PM on May 24, 2018 [1 favorite]

Also at the edge of your range is Black Rock Mountain State Park in Georgia. There was a tornado not too long ago which has led to more spectacular vistas than usual on the Tennessee Rock Trail there.
posted by Dr. Grue at 9:20 PM on May 24, 2018 [1 favorite]

I emailed my sister, who used to live there. She said that her husband and kids (also tweenagers when they lived there) enjoyed Table Rock Trail which goes out of Pickens, SC, which appears to be about 20mi from Greenville. Official site.
posted by Sunburnt at 8:31 AM on May 25, 2018

I suggest the Twin Falls trail for a quick, easy, and scenic trip. Beautiful drive, pack a lunch, eat in the overlook if it's drizzly (it will be this weekend), still have fun, get awesome pictures. Ditto for Poinsett Bridge. Short hike, but fun exploring. The Stumphouse railroad tunnel is also fun, you can go in it, and it's a fun, quick hike. Make up spooky stories about it for bonus fun...

If you're more into getting out and about, Ceasar's Head and Table Rock state parks are fun, but more driving... Also look for any accces points to the Palmetto Trail, for more advanced hiking.

Congaree Swamp is indeed amazing, but you're an hour and a half away, and the best trails (the river trail!) take four plus hours to hike. Maybe pick a nice fall weekend for that. Also plan to see Riverbanks Zoo while there... Maybe rent tubes and take the river tour from the zoo to the riverwalk... but, pick a nice weekend...

The Clemson campus/town is fun and somewhat close by. Get ice cream at the dairy pavillion! Who doesn't love ice cream? Walk the botanical gardens if it's not pouring. Go find the pendulum, it's a fun secret. Lots of room to run.

Anderson is cute/easy. Not so much hiking, but a small main street to raom. Get a hot dog at the original Skin Thrashers, remember to use your church language.

I will also be in the area this weekend, however, I will be formally dressed so I will be uncomfortable, and jealous of your outing....
posted by 1f2frfbf at 6:19 PM on May 25, 2018

Link for Poinsett Bridge, because I'm dumb.
posted by 1f2frfbf at 6:25 PM on May 25, 2018

Brevard NC is only about an hour, maybe hour and a half, from Greenville and it’s the gateway to much of the most amazing hiking of Pisgah National Forest - Looking Glass Rock is a great one, as is John Rock nearby. Look near the Cradle of Forestry and the trout hatchery, those are both on the Brevard side. Or you could drive on up 64 and hike in to Toxaway Falls, which is beautiful and possibly somewhat less crowded.
posted by mygothlaundry at 5:44 AM on May 26, 2018

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