Nature Conservancy Sets Stage to Add 955 Acres of Public Access to Jones Gap State Park

In warmer months, it’s common to see a line of cars waiting outside Jones Gap State Park as early as 9 a.m. on the weekend. Jones Gap has only 36 parking spaces; when those are full, the park is considered “at capacity” and the gates close until more visitors can be accepted. With 415,852 visitors welcomed to the Mountain Bridge Wilderness area last year – a figure that...

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Wildlife along the Swamp Trail at Francis Beidler Forest, SC

The National Audubon Society’s Francis Beidler Forest located in Four Holes Swamp, South Carolina contains within its 18,000 acres the largest remaining stand of virgin bald cypress and tupelo gum swamp forest left anywhere in the world. Wander along an elevated boardwalk that starts and ends at the visitor center past ancient trees, black water swamp, clear pools, and...

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Pinnacle Mountain Trail and Ridge Trail, Table Rock State Park, SC

This park sits right on the cliff’s edge of the Blue Ridge Escarpment that drops down from the mountains in western North Carolina to the upcountry of South Carolina. The park is more than 3,000 acres of trails, lakes, cabins and camping. Pinnacle Mountain Trail is the most challenging within the park, with a climb that exceeds 2,300 feet. The lower section follows...

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Natural Bridge and Raven Rock Trails, Keowee Toxaway State Park, South Carolina

Another of the fun and exciting South Carolina state parks that line the Cherokee Foothills Scenic Highway, Keowee Toxaway offers two hiking trails that take visitors over a natural bridge and through the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, land once traveled by Cherokee Indians. Much of the trail follows the shore of Lake Keowee through the healthy oak/hickory forest...

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Oakridge Trail, Congaree National Park

Congaree National Park, located in the heart of South Carolina, is a land of towering trees, of floods and fire, of woodland paths and water trails used by people for more than 10,000 years. This rare, old growth forest became a national park in 1976. These ancient trees have witnessed wars, slavery, freedom, and destruction. There are 25 miles of hiking trails in...

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More than 150 roads in need of repair around SC’s Francis Marion National Forest

The drive to meet Mark and Ronnie Morris is bumpy. Potholes pepper the roads through the Francis Marion National Forest where the brothers have lived their entire lives. They say the conditions are worse than they’ve ever seen them. “If you don’t have four-wheel drive you can’t make it,” Mark Morris explained. Ronnie described the roads like something from a war movie....

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Raven Cliff Falls and Gum Gap Trails, Mountain Bridge Wilderness

The air is nearly always cool at Caesars Head State Park in upstate South Carolina. It sits right on the edge of the Blue Ridge escarpment where refreshing breezes from the piedmont waft up and over the massive walls of rock. This hike is a casual stroll through hardwood forest on a sand and clay pathway to the Matthews Creek gorge and a suspension bridge over the...

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Francis Marion National Forest a great escape

Centered directly between South Carolina’s top two tourist destinations, Charleston and Myrtle Beach, the Francis Marion National Forest’s nearly 260,000 acres sprawl across Berkeley and Charleston counties and have enhanced the lives of visitors and residents for decades. Officially designated in 1936, the area is named in honor of the fabled American Revolutionary War...

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Hiking under skyscraper-sized trees in South Carolina

Congaree National Park visitors not only look out across a flood plain swamp but up as well. Up into the forest canopy that rises to 160 feet high. The Congaree canopy, formed by towering old-growth trees, is taller than that of any forest in the East. The giant trees include a 167-foot-high loblolly pine. It’s the tallest tree in this wet-and-dry park, the biggest tree...

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Proposed National Park System Addition in South Carolina

National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis will be in South Carolina Thursday, December 15, 2016 at the invitation of U.S. Representative James E. Clyburn (D-SC) to hear comments on proposals to add Reconstruction Era sites in Beaufort County to the National Park System. The Reconstruction Era began during the Civil War and lasted until the dawn of Jim Crow racial...

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Polluters In South Carolina Are About To Get A Huge Boost From The State House

For the past 65 years, if someone — or some company — was illegally polluting in South Carolina, you could sue. The law was put on the books so that if South Carolina’s enforcement agencies didn’t have the time, money, or political backing to go after a polluter, the average citizen could step in. Now, with only a month left in its 2015-2016 session, the South Carolina...

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Paris Mountain State Park Trail System, South Carolina

Named for an opportunistic traitor who supported the Crown during the Revolutionary War, Paris Mountain State Park was constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps during the Great Depression. Richard Pearis owned 150,000 acres including what is now Greenville, SC and this state park north of the city. Once no more than a rural retreat, Paris Mountain is now a bustling...

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Jones Gap Trail to Rainbow Falls, Jones Gap State Park

Jones Gap State Park sits on the Blue Ridge Escarpment in upstate South Carolina very near the state line with its neighbor to the north. Along with Caesars Head State Park, these two share an area known as Mountain Bridge Wilderness. The Jones Gap Trail follows the Middle Saluda River along an old roadway built by Solomon Jones in the 1850s. In this cove backcountry the...

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Raven Cliff Falls Overlook, Mountain Bridge Wilderness

Matthews Creek plunges more than 350 feet over Raven Cliff Falls into the gorge it has carved below Raven Cliff Mountain. One of a myriad of landmarks along the Blue Ridge Escarpment in Caesars Head State Park, the rim of this gorge offers a gentle and rewarding hike. Part of the Mountain Bridge Wilderness Area that also includes Jones Gap State Park, this is the most...

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Duke Energy Drops Plan For Lines From Upstate SC To Asheville, NC

Duke Energy announced it’s controversial plan to build a 45-mile transmission line from Upstate South Carolina to Western North Carolina has been dropped in favor of building two smaller gas units in Asheville. The company announced November 4, 2015 that it will replace it’s coal plant in Asheville with two smaller gas units rather than building one large one. Duke...

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Trial program to remove feral hogs from SC national forest

The problem with feral hogs in the Francis Marion National Forest has become so bad that the state and federal governments are paying three hunters to help remove them. Feral hogs are found statewide and are considered one of the worst animal nuisance problems in South Carolina. The hogs are descendants of livestock that wandered off. The Francis Marion trial program has...

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Platform overlooking NC/SC border coming to Sassafras Mountain

Legions of hikers and state “highpointers” have had the vision for years that if you build an overlook on Sassafras Mountain, the curious will come. Now, it looks like the idea for an accessible observation platform straddling the North Carolina-South Carolina border is on its way, thanks to a $350,000 gift to the S.C. Department of Natural Resources. The...

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Saluda Mountains Passage of the Palmetto Trail, South Carolina

This section of the Palmetto Trail borders the Poinsett Watershed used by the City of Greenville, and roughly follows the North/South Carolina state line. Enjoy a delightful forest hike that winds among the Saluda Mountains as you’re passing through one of the most significant wilderness areas in South Carolina. In 1993, the Greenville Water System conveyed an...

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Oconee Passage of the Palmetto Trail, Sumter National Forest, SC

This climb up Station Mountain begins within Oconee Station State Historic Site then passes through Sumter National Forest on the way to Oconee State Park. Along the way you’ll enjoy the 60-foot Station Cove Falls and a botanical preserve inhabited by beaver. The climb is a good workout, as a peaceful hardwood forest and a well-maintained trail lined with switch...

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New trail markers make Congaree National Park hikes easier

As the weather turns cooler and more hikers head out to Congaree National Park in South Carolina, they’ll find the trails easier to navigate than a few months ago. The trees that crashed across trails during last winter’s ice storm have been cut or pushed out of the way, and a new trail marking system is almost completely installed, according to Superintendent Tracy...

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Forest Service joins with multiple partners to host fun-filled celebration of Wilderness Act and Chattooga Wild and Scenic River in Oconee County, SC

When a special occasion comes along, most of us want our friends to celebrate with us. The celebration of the 40th anniversary of the Chattooga Wild and Scenic River and the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act on Saturday, Sept. 27, 2014 is no different. The Forest Service and multiple friends and partners have joined forces to host a day of outdoor activities on the...

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Connecting The Dots Of The Southern Appalachian Loop Trail

What unites many of us in the Southern Appalachians is a love for hiking along the hundreds of miles of trails in our region. Ten years ago, Matt Kirk discovered that many of these paths form a loop measuring over 350 miles in length. Pieced together, this route, known as the Southern Appalachian Loop Trail or SALT, is currently 99.4 percent complete. With the exception...

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SC Upstate’s hiking trails are full of history

The Mountain Bridge Passage trail starts in an old ghost town that was the old Camp Spearhead, just off scenic Highway 11 in northern Greenville County, South Carolina. It is the only trail connecting Highway 11 to the state park system of trails in Greenville County. It also hooks up with the Foothills Trail itself via Caesars Head State Park. Running for about 4 miles...

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South Carolina Upstate hiking trails closed

Caesars Head and Jones Gap State Park have closed all or parts of several trails. Rangers are working to clear debris and reroute high water. TRAIL CLOSURES: Please see the following list for closures: Raven Cliff Suspension Bridge – Open route of Gum Gap to Naturaland, the rest of Naturaland closed Cold Spring – Trail closed until water recedes. Dismal Loop...

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With help from Boeing, the Palmetto Trail may finally be finished

Back in 1994, the Palmetto Conservation Foundation (PCF) decided the state of South Carolina needed a greenway. Connecting the sea to the mountains, it would be a sort of interstate highway for hikers and mountain bikers. In those days, South Carolina had a much different kind of state government. Then-governor Carroll Campbell allocated the first funding for what has...

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Foothills Trail from Sassafras Mountain, SC to Gum Gap, NC

Hiking a state line offers interesting boundary markers and competing blaze markings. This hike on the Foothills Trail follows the boundary from the highest point in South Carolina — Sassafras Mountain — to a convenient end point at Gum Gap in North Carolina. Because of the length, for us this was a two vehicle hike, with one left at each end. Expect a roller...

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Falls Creek Falls and Hospital Rock Trail, Mountain Bridge Wilderness, SC

Falls Creek Falls is a double cascade in the northeast corner of the Mountain Bridge Wilderness in upstate South Carolina that free falls more than a hundred feet. In winter there is a distant view of the top of the falls from 800 feet below at the trailhead on Falls Creek Rd. From the falls, Hospital Rock Trail climbs Standingstone Mountain along Falls Creek for ridge...

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Jones Gap Trail and Coldspring Branch Trail Loop, Jones Gap State Park, SC

Jones Gap State Park sits on the Blue Ridge Escarpment in northwestern South Carolina very near the state line with its neighbor to the north. Along with Caesars Head State Park, these two share an area known as Mountain Bridge Wilderness. The Jones Gap Trail follows the Saluda River along an old interstate road built by Solomon Jones in the 1850s. In this backcountry...

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Raven Cliff Falls Trail, Dismal Trail, Naturaland Trust Trail, Gum Gap Trail, Caesars Head State Park, South Carolina

Matthews Creek plunges more than 1,000 feet over Raven Cliff Falls into the gorge it has carved below Raven Cliff Mountain. One of a myriad of landmarks along the Blue Ridge Escarpment in Caesars Head State Park, this gorge offers a very challenging yet rewarding hike. Part of the Mountain Bridge Wilderness Area that also includes Jones Gap State Park, this is the most...

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Table Rock Trail, Table Rock State Park, South Carolina

This park sits right on the cliff’s edge of the Blue Ridge Escarpment that drops down from the mountains in western North Carolina to the upcountry of South Carolina. The park is more than 3,000 acres of trails, lakes, cabins and camping. Table Rock State Park is located 12 miles north of Pickens, SC. This hike occurred on February 2, 2011 beginning at 9:30AM and...

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