Table Rock Trails

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.


Anonymous said...

Oh, I am so excited to see Part II up now!! This is lovely! I am definitely going to jot down all of your advice to take when we go. My husband and daughter scare me to death, because they get so close to mountain edges. I'm going to make them read this post, so they'll see that slipping is real and not just me being a worry wart:)

Thank you, Kimberli! This is beautiful! I can't wait to take the Summit trail.

Kimberli said...

Thanks, Julie. I'm sure you'll love the Summit Trail hike. Several other people I know also name this as their favorite.

You're not being a worry wart about those rocks. Recently, a hiker broke both of his legs after he fell from a rock in Linville Gorge. ( He'd been hiking solo and had to crawl a mile before he encountered someone. A member of my hiking group (an experienced hiker. Has bagged many if not all of the Southern Sixers) nearly fell off Looking Glass Rock--which is quite high. A friend recounted the story of watching a mother fall from Grandfather Mountain in front of her children. My husband cracked his tailbone after he slipped on a rock in a stream on the Carrick Creek Trail, and other members of my hiking group have slipped on rocks and fallen as well. Fortunately, this occurred at ground level, but many have had close calls while at a higher elevation. Falls do happen, and they happen every year. I don't know if people are so accustomed to walking around in safety they don't think about it, or if they think they're being careful. But as I mentioned in one post, Mother Nature doesn't care about liability, so she doesn't give a rip about making things safe for visitors. The views are great, but it's best to experience them from a distance!

Glad you like the post. I'm about to download photos from today's outing. It was quite a treat, and it's here in eastern North Carolina!

Julie said...

I made my husband and daughter read this, so maybe they'll listen to me the next time we go...ha. Hopefully soon!

Your pictures are absolutely beautiful. Do you mind if I link you on my site? I'm still not sure how blog etiquette works, so I'm thinking I should ask first. If you don't want me to, that's really okay. I won't throw a fit or anything like that. And I'll still be a fan!

Kimberli said...

Thanks! I'm glad the post and the comment was helpful. And I'd be honored if you linked to my blog :o)

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Kimberli! Have a beautiful day.

Jeremy Colyer said...

I just read your post about this trek to Table Rock. It is absolutely beautiful up there. I went up a couple of weeks ago and hit both the summit at Pinnacle Mountain, then to Table Rock after that. It made for a long, but very satisfying day!

You can read about it here if you are interested!

Kimberli said...

Hi Jeremy, and thanks. Table Rock is a wonderful place. Scenic and serene. We love Carrick Creek and the Summit trails, though we've yet to tackle Pinnacle. That's on the To Do list. I'm glad you enjoyed it, and am sure you'll return many times.

Thanks for stopping by!