Table Rock State Park, SC

Our favorite hike in the Upstate.

Table Rock State Park is located off Hwy 11 in Pickens County. If you're coming from Greenville, travel up Hwy 25 and turn left on Hwy 11. This road seems to end, but turn right at the T-intersection (still Hwy 11.) Several miles down the road and past Hwy 276, you'll see the Visitor's Center on the left across from the mountain. Stop here to use the facilities and to take photos. To reach the trailhead and camping area, take the entrance to the right. There is a small fee to enter the park.

Pass the camping area and drive until you reach a parking lot located near the lake. Park here and walk across the street to the Nature Center.

Copyright 2012 Kimberli Buffaloe

NOTE: Restrooms are located in a wooden building off the far end of the park lot across from the lake and at the Nature Center. Consider using them before you start your hike. The trails are often crowded, and there aren't many places to sneak off to relieve yourself along the way.

After you leave the Nature Center, cross over the bridge but stop at the main trailhead and fill out the Hiker Registration form. I cannot express how important this is. On our first visit to Table Rock, we saw paramedics load a hiker onto a stretcher. Later, during a chat with a park ranger we during our hike, we learned hikers are injured every year when they take chances along the trail, underestimate their ability to hike, or when they slip on rocks or trip on exposed tree roots. My husband cracked his tailbone in a fall on the Carrick Creek Trail. Injuries do happen, and rangers need to know the general vicinity in which you'll be hiking and the time you left in the event they find your abandoned car. Please, fill out this form before you begin your hike.

Copyright 2012 Kimberli Buffaloe
Next, head toward the trail through a shady area alongside a creek that will tempt you to stay where you are. The presence of several small cascades are inviting, and you'll find yourself lagging behind, enjoying the beauty and serenity the view brings.

If you make it past the falls, you'll reach a juncture where the trails branch off. There are several trails to choose from, including a segment of the Foothills Trail. The shortest trail is Carrick Creek. The toughest, from what I understand, is the Pinnacle Mountain (not counting the Foothill Trails.) Know where you're going before you reach the park, give yourself plenty of time, and be prepared for a rugged hike. The Summit Trail is particularly strenuous, yet people attempt to hike it in wearing street sandals and hauling purses or babies.

As with all hikes, carry recommended equipment including (not limited to) a first aid kit, a flashlight in case you get stuck after dark, a compass, and plenty of water and/or Gatorade. On our first attempt to hike the Summit Trail, I took one 16-oz bottle of water. It wasn't enough and I ended up offering a park ranger $100 for a drink of her water. No kidding. Good ranger that she was, she handed over the water and refused the money. I now take ten bottles (total) of water and Gatorade whenever I hike this trail. Yes, it's heavy, but I overheat easily. The trail is strenuous and it's important to stay hydrated. A walking stick is also quite helpful on these trails.

Why bother? It's a great hike with fabulous views.

 Photos from a 2012 hike to the summit:

When out in nature, please be careful. So often we're accustomed to walking around streets and in buildings knowing we can generally tread without injuring ourselves. Nature has its own rules and it doesn't care about liability. Please watch where you're walking and stay off precipices and rocks in creeks. Don't take chances. Hike smart so you can return to hike another day.
UPDATE: For more on Carrick Creek and Summit Trails, click here.

For more information on Table Rock State Park, click here.


Dana Koogler said...

Kimberli, this is a good post.
Very informative.

My question to you:
Are there any creeks along the trails? Is there no place to filter water from?

I have never been so I don't know.
It sparked my curiousity.

Kimberli said...

At the moment, I can only speak for the Carrick Creek and Table Rock (aka Summit) Trails, though, if I recall correctly, a few of the other paths connect with, or run concurrently with those trails.

For Carrick Creek, which we've hiked three or four times--yes, but I'm assuming you're not interested in that since it's the shortest hike (one hour). That is unless it's part of say the Pinnacle Trail.

As for the Table Rock Summit Trail, the answer is no, a creek doesn't exist within looking or hearing distance. I know this for a fact because in my second novel, I wrote a scene that involved a hike on Table Rock. After my character was separated from her hiking partner (that is, dumped by a jerk of a guy) she had to find water. To research the accuracy of the scene that I wrote, I specifically searched for a creek along the trail during our next hike. I didn't find any, so I took artistic liberty and created a stream.

I think others in the group have hiked various parts of Table Rock. Hopefully someone will have an answer on the Foothill and Pinnacle Trails.

Kimberli said...

Oh, and thank you for your kind remarks. Table Rock was our first and last hike in SC. We spent more time on those trails than any other, and it remains our favorite hike to this day.

jonio said...

Hi Kimberli,
Thanks for the comment on my Cypress Garden photo. I should have taken more. I thought that was a beautiful look. Probably incorporate it into my art at some point. Tried to photo the resident alligators but none were close enough. I have been reading your blog, it's wonderful! I can read it and travel when I can't travel!

Kimberli said...

Thanks, jonio. Like you (judging by what I saw on your blog) my husband and I have a passion for the Carolinas and we love to explore both states. I currently live in NC, but my heart is in SC. I appreciated your report and photos of Cypress Gardens. I need to get back there soon!