Calling All Adventurers
Test your endurance hiking 70+ miles through the wilderness on the Blue Ridge Escarpment, or enjoy a stroll past waterfalls on your lunch break. Ride toward the hills where cycling legends train, or enjoy a relaxed bike ride on your cruiser down the Doodle Trail or up the Swamp Rabbit Trail. No matter your level of experience, Upstate South Carolina will bring out the outdoor adventurer in you.
An active lifestyle is at the heart of Upstate South Carolina’s culture. Thanks to our renowned biking and hiking trails, pristine lakes, hundreds of sparkling waterfalls and parks and protected lands, it’s easy to get outside and enjoy the great outdoors—whether you prefer hiking, biking, boating, kayaking, or zip lining. Learn more about how to get outside in Upstate SC below.
Why Move Up?
STATE PARKS IN SOUTH CAROLINA
MILES OF BIKE TRAILS
WATERFALLS WITHIN AN HOUR’S DRIVE
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- Trails + Parks
- Lakes + Waterways
Breathtaking Hikes + Curated Trails
Whether you’re an avid or novice hiker, runner or camper, or just like to take in a scenic vista, you’ll find a range of trails and parks to help you answer the call of the wild. View of a map of South Carolina’s 47 State Parks, the Upstate Outdoor Activity Map, or browse just a few of our favorite Upstate SC-accessible trails and parks below.
- Caesars Head State Park is best-known for it easily-accessible overlook atop the rocky peak of the Blue Ridge Escarpment, where sight-seers can experience thousands of hawks migrating through the park three months per year, and a spectacular view that extends into North Carolina and Georgia. It also connects to Jones Gap State Park, offering even more hiking and trailside camping opportunities.
- Cleveland Park, perched along the Reedy River, features tennis courts, softball fields, playground areas, a fitness trail and the Greenville Zoo. It’s perfect for a day out with the family.
- Lake Conestee Nature Park is a 400-acre park perfect for wildlife lovers. The park features paved and natural pathways, boardwalks built over wetland areas, a pedestrian bridge stretching across the Reedy River and a dense wildlife habitat.
- Oconee State Park is complete with several beautiful waterfalls and offers trails that are perfect for anything from a half-day hike to a camping trip. Rustic cabins, a lake with a swimming hole, canoe rentals and fishing opportunities are just a few of the park’s top offerings.
- Paris Mountain State Park is a favorite for hikers, bikers and swimmers thanks to its close proximity to Downtown Greenville, trailside camping sites and cool swimming area that’s open during the summer. Take the 1.2-mile loop around Lake Placid or get your pulse racing on the Sulphur Springs Trail—all part of this 1,540-acre park.
- Swamp Rabbit Trail is a 22-mile multi-use trail system converted from an old railroad track that draws walkers, runners and cyclists from miles around. This connects to an expansive trail network near downtown Greenville and runs north to Travelers Rest.
- Table Rock State Park’s location just off State Highway 11 makes it easy to get to from most of the Upstate. A variety of trails offer stunning views from the top of Table Rock Mountain, which is surrounded by 3,000 miles of park complete with cabins, a campground and an old-fashioned swimming hole on one of the park’s two lakes.
From Waterfalls to Pristine Lakes
Upstate South Carolina is known for its waterfalls. In fact, there are more than 300 of them within about an hour’s drive or less.
The region is also home to beautiful lakes, where you’ll find many Upstate residents in the summer. It’s common for friends and family to take to their boats or lake houses for a weekend of swimming, waterskiing, picnicking and soaking up the sun.
One of the most popular lakes in the Southeast, Lake Hartwell in Anderson covers 56,000 acres with 962 miles of shoreline. It’s also known for its world-class fishing, as the host to a variety of championship tournament organizations, such as the Bassmaster Classic, and consistently ranks among the top 100 bass fishing lakes in the nation.
One of the purest lakes in South Carolina, Lake Keowee is nearly 29 square miles and has over 300 miles of shoreline. Lake Jocassee is a paddlers paradise with waterfalls that empty into the lake, which includes 7,500 acres of deep water and 75 miles of shoreline. Encompassing 1,534 acres, Lake Bowen serves as a water supply to Spartanburg and offers many recreational activities like boating and fishing. The beautiful Lake Greenwood spans over 212 miles of shoreline and 11,000 acres of water, and borders Greenwood, Laurens and Newberry Counties. With a total of 125 paved campsites and 914 acres of parkland, the lake’s open area is perfect for fishing, boating, camping, nature walks and more.
In addition, Upstate SC is home to a variety of swimming holes for secluded dips or hangouts on the way back from a hike. Wildcat Branch Falls is close to both Caesars Head and Table Rock. Table Rock, Paris Mountain and Oconee State Parks feature their very own swimming areas with lifeguards on duty. At Table Rock, the 36-acre Pinnacle Lake; at Paris Mountain, the eight-acre Lake Placid; and at Oconee State Park, a 20-acre lake with diving boards along a sandy beach. Fishing equipment, canoes and kayaks are available for rent at many of these destinations. For even more lakes and waterways, check out the Paddle SC interactive map.
Upstate South Carolina is a world-class cycling destination that’s also home to single-lane mountain bike trails and miles of bikeable roads. Pro cyclers know Greenville as host to the USA Cycling Professional Road National Championships from 2006 to 2012, as well as the National Criterium Champs in 2015 and 2016. It’s a common theme among cyclists in the area to have traveled to the Upstate for a race and decided to stay forever—like U.S. pro George Hincapie, and Boyd and Nicole Johnson, who founded Boyd Cycling. Today, Upstate SC is still home to a number of cycling events, including the Hincapie Spring Series and the Gran Fondo Hincapie, which contribute to its active cycling community.
New bike riders can test their balance at Falls Park, while those a little more experienced can try out Conestee Lake or Swamp Rabbit that runs from Greenville to Traveler’s Rest or the Doodle Trail connecting Easley and Pickens. Experienced cyclists looking for a challenge should head straight for the “Tour de Greenville,” a trail which begins along the Swamp Rabbit Trail and runs toward Furman University and Paris Mountain.
Those who want an active way to get to work will find a number of options for commuter biking, including South Carolina’s first protected bike lane, located in Greenville, and B-Cycle Spartanburg, the first bike-sharing program in the Southeast, which was replicated in Greenville. Thanks in part to the bike lane and bike sharing programs, Greenville recorded more than 10,000 commuter trips by bike in 2017.
The Village Wrench, located in the Village of West Greenville, is a non-profit that offers free bike repair space and used parts. Their unique Earn A Bike program allows community members to earn a bicycle through accumulating hours of community service.
Looking to socialize while you ride? Check out these local cycling clubs:
- Upstate SORBA not only organizes biking events and group rides, they also support the building of new trails.
- The Greenville Spinners host weekly group rides, special event rides and multi-day tours.
- The Freewheelers of Spartanburg host the Assaults on Mt. Mitchell and Marion, an annual test of endurance as 800+ cyclists bike nearly 103 miles to the top of the highest peak in the East, Mt. Mitchell.
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