There is no shortage of outdoor destinations in the South Carolina Upstate. Scenic rivers, waterfalls, and mountain top vistas cover the region and offer endless opportunities for adventure at any time of the year. As beautiful as the region is, a few destinations stand apart from the rest and Table Rock State Park is at the top of my list. 

First, I must admit that I have more than a few reasons for being slightly partial to Table Rock. It was a common destination with my parents as early as I can remember. I recall the repeated attempts to reach the summit of Table Rock until I was old enough and strong enough to survive the strenuous 3.5 mile climb to the top. I remember one failed attempt in particular when we almost reached the peak before I sat on a fire ant hill during a water break and enjoyed a swarm of ant bites on my 5 year old nether regions (ok, so maybe that is not one of my finer Table Rock memories). 

I returned as an adult and spent one of my first dates with my wife at the peak of Pinnacle Mountain in Table Rock State Park.  A year and a half later, we got married at The Lodge at Table Rock. 

Obviously, there is more in my experience to draw me to Table Rock than just the beauty of it. That said, the beauty alone makes this a must-see destination for any outdoor enthusiast.   

Table Rock State Park is located on Highway 11, about 30 minutes from downtown Greenville. The park is home to miles of hiking trails leading to the peaks of Table Rock and Pinnacle Mountains, waterfalls, a lake with swimming access and boat rental, and the most scenic views in South Carolina. Whether you are a serious hiker or just want to load the kids into the minivan for a relaxing Sunday afternoon, Table Rock has something to offer. 

Obviously, the feature attraction to the park is in the name: Table Rock is the 3rd highest peak in South Carolina at an elevation of 3,124 feet. It is not exactly a towering mountain top by western U.S. standards, but the view is unparalleled in this area. The peak is achieved by a 7+ mile round trip that travels almost vertically at times to an amazing view of the Greenville County watershed and the surrounding Blue Ridge Mountains.  This is actually the closest most of us will ever get to Greenville’s watershed, which is one of the most protected and pristine water supplies in the country.  Pack a lunch and have a picnic at the summit and if you do not see Heaven, then it just must not exist for you. 

For those less inclined to spend the next three days with sore, achy legs, you can take in the beauty of the mountain from its base. In the shadow of the two mountain peaks there is the 36 acre Pinnacle Lake. Here you can take the kids for a swim in the summer time, or rent a paddle boat or canoe ($15) or even a small motor boat ($25) for a relaxing ride or fishing in the crystal clear mountain water.  

Finally (and I must admit that I have not explored this hidden gem for myself) Table Rock State features a unique look at American Indian history. Recently I have been told that at the top of the “Stool” which is a smaller peak lying at the foot of Table Rock, there are caves that were inhabited by Indians whose drawings are still visible today. These caves are frequented by archeologists and artifact hunters and have well-worn trails providing access to these caves. Since I have yet to experience this trail, my advice would be to check with the park office to get directions to this site (if it is even accessible to the general public).

As I mentioned, Upstate South Carolina has plenty to offer to the weekend adventurer. However, many attractions are scattered across the region and offer no more than one or two trails or a single destination.  At Table Rock State Park, you can visit every weekend and take on as many or as few of Nature’s obstacles as you desire. If Heaven is in your own backyard, it is worth the trip to visit from time to time.

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