Click here for Part I
As I mentioned in my previous post, my husband and I only hiked two trails at Table Rock: Carrick Creek and the Summit Trail. But we hiked them often.
The Table Rock Summit Trail was our first hike in South Carolina, and our last. We reached the summit twice, Governor's Rock twice, and surrendered at the Trailside Shelter (aka the halfway point) twice. These trails remains our favorite to this day despite the strenuous conditions.
Carrick Creek is great if you don't have a lot of time for an outing, but you still want a nice workout. This 1.9 mile loop branches westward, and takes about an hour to hike. Don't expect a walk in the park, so to speak. There are at least two creek crossings, and in other spots along the trail, it takes a mighty heave to pull oneself up a vertical rise or over rocks.
For more information on Carrick Creek, see the SC Trails site.
If you're in the mood for a long, strenuous hike with panoramic views of the Upstate portion of the Blue Ridge Mountains, the Table Rock Summit hike is perfect for you. Ascending nearly 2,000 feet, this 3.4 mile (one way) trail winds to the west and then angles eastward, along the ridge of Table Rock Mountain, and at times, it's a hard hike. You'll encounter numerous sets of wooden or hewn rock steps that often require a rest break before attempting to climb. People in moderate physical condition (or worse) will walk ten steps, stop to breath, and then shoot off another dozen steps before stopping to breath again. Keep walking until you reach the trailside shelter. Rest here and enjoy the view of the foothills, Pinnacle Lake, and the Visitors' Center, located on the south side of Hwy 11.
This is also a great place to make that important decision--continue or slink back? If you brought enough water and have enough daylight (it takes us about 6-61/2 hours to hike this trail. ALWAYS account for the time it will take to return to your car. This would be a terrible trail to get stuck on at night. Bring a flashlight just in case), and you have the strength, continue on to Governor's rock, a large outcropping that provides a spectacular view of jagged peaks.
At Governor's Rock, you're about three quarters of the way to your goal. The only things between you and the summit are a lot of rocks and a gracefully ascending trail. At one point, small steps are hewn along the side of one of the many huge boulders you'll encounter along the way. It isn't a problem going up, but if you're afraid of heights, you may have to scoot down on your rear on the return trip.
If you decide to press on, congratulations! But be prepared: unlike the Trailside shelter and Governor's Rock, the only thing you'll find at the summit is a sign and a lot of trees. Don't be discouraged. Rest a few minutes and continue about 400 more feet. That's where you'll find the view:
It's worth every exhausting step you've taken to reach it.
Warning: as with my hiking partners in the photo above, throughout the hike you might be tempted to walk to the edge of places such as the angled boulder hugging the mountain at the trailside shelter, Governor's Rock, or the top of the sheer face one sees from Hwy 11. Please don't do this. Lichen and algae growing on the rocks, and slick leaves covering the dirt can making footing dangerously unstable. The only place you'll go is down.
Pinnacle Trail is another favorite destination at Table Rock State Park, though it's more strenuous than the Summit. Sadly, we never took advantage of this trail. Those who have hiked it agreed that, while not scenic along the way, one can find good views at trails end. If you decide to try it, give yourself plenty of time. Estimated round trip time is about eight hours, including rest breaks.
Table Rock is a great Upstate destination. Camping is available, and people often canoe or kayak on Pinnacle Lake, or let their children frolic in the shallow pools near the cascades at the Nature Center.
For more information, click here.