Hardly any single visual is more iconic in the South Carolina Upstate than Table Rock Mountain. The flat top and sweeping bald rock face are recognizable from any angle and its image can be found in local, regional, and national publications as a simple and compelling case for taking in the natural beauty we are so fortunate to have surrounding us. The mountain is the centerpiece and namesake of one of the Upstate’s most popular parks and, if you have never visited Table Rock State Park, it is time to get out and see it for yourself.
Tips To Breathe In
- Difficulty: Easy to difficult – you are climbing a mountain after all
- Parking: Multiple Parking Areas throughout the Park
- Price: $5 adults; $3.25 SC seniors (age 65 & older); $3 children ages 6-15; ages 5 and under, free.
- Pet-friendly?: Pets are not allowed in the cabins or the cabin areas, or on the swim beach at Table Rock State Park. Pets are allowed in most other outdoor areas provided they are kept under physical restraint or on a leash not longer than six feet.
- Hours/Seasonal: Sun-Thurs 7 AM – 7 PM (extended to 9 PM Fri and Sat)/Sun-Thurs 7 AM – 9 PM (extended to 10 PM Fri and Sat), during Daylight Saving Time
- Wheelchair/Stroller Accessible?: Picnic areas, The Lodge, and fishing pier
- Amenities: Cabins, campsites, The Lodge, a swimming area with a high dive, and picnic shelters
- Nearby?: Aunt Sue’s Country Corner and Victoria Valley Vineyards are just a couple miles away
- Fact 1: Table Rock State Park is one of 16 SC State Parks built by the Civilian Conservation Corps
- Fact 2: The park is the eastern access point for the 76-mile Foothills Trail
- Fact 3: Pinnacle Mountain is home to more than 600 petroglyphs or prehistoric rock carvings
Since Table Rock Mountain is the park’s obvious main attraction, let us start our story there. The 3,124-foot peak is the third tallest in South Carolina but one could argue that it is the obvious winner in the Most Impressive View category. To sit on the mountain’s granite dome and gaze out upon the Greenville Table Rock Watershed and the surrounding Blue Ridge Mountains is nothing short of spectacular and a memory that does not require a photograph to carry with you for the rest of your life (there’s no harm in bringing a camera anyway, of course).
Getting there is not easy but it is worth every ounce of effort. Almost all of the trail’s 3.6 miles to the summit are of the moderate to difficult variety, as one should surely expect when hiking up a mountain. The natural surroundings and frequent views of the lakes and land below are enough to keep you motivated every step of the way until you reach the sign telling you are standing at the mountain’s highest point. Here, you will want to press on just a bit further until the forest gives way to bald rock and the best place to sit and enjoy a picnic that one can possibly imagine, soaking in the view that lies before you.
Pinnacle Mountain –
Of course, the Table Rock Mountain trail is not the only thing to do at the park, nor is it even the only breathtaking hike. The main trailhead at the park can also take one to the summit of Pinnacle Mountain, the state’s second tallest peak at 3,415 feet. Much like the Table Rock trail, expect every bit of the 4.2-mile trek to be physically demanding. The big difference here is that the payoff comes before the mountain’s summit, as opposed to after, when hikers reach the Bald Knob outcrop about a quarter mile from the top. Dedicated weekend warriors can tackle both of these peaks in a single outing by first conquering Pinnacle Mountain and then taking the 1.9 mile Ridge Trail that connects to the Table Rock Trail as it approaches the summit.
Lakeside and Carrick Creek Trails – to
For those less inclined to scale a mountaintop, Table Rock State Park still has plenty to offer. Lakeside and Carrick Creek trails are roughly two-mile loops that keep hikers on even terrain around Pinnacle Lake and the soothing waters of mountain streams. Here you will see many a family basking in the sun and frolicking in the mist of falling water in summer months, exerting none of the energy needed to climb to the peaks looming overhead.
Summer is also for swimming at Pinnacle Lake as a designated area with lifeguard supervision is perfect for cooling off in the dog days of July. A sandy beach, a diving board, and even a high dive for those bold enough to try it are all perfect for summertime adventures and the making of family memories. You can even choose to stay dry and hop in a rented fishing boat, pedal boat, canoe, or kayak and explore the lake on your own terms.
The best part of Table Rock’s location is the fact that it is centrally located just enough that it makes for a perfect day trip no matter where you live in the Upstate. Residents from Anderson to Spartanburg and beyond can make a reasonable drive, enjoy a day at the park, and still make it home for dinner with minimal effort. If you want to stay longer, however, there are 94 campsites and 14 cabins making that an especially attractive option.
Finally, one must take notice of The Lodge at Table Rock State Park for a bit of living Upstate history. Built in 1938, by the Civilian Conservation Corps and refurbished in 2005, The Lodge sits upon Pinnacle Lake nestled in the shadow of Table Rock and Pinnacle Mountains. It is as beautifully situated event space as you will ever step foot in and is perfect for weddings and other occasions. It is also home to the monthly Music on the Mountain bluegrass series where pickers of all ages can meet up for an informal but wildly entertaining jam session that any music lover will enjoy.
If there is one definitive, must-visit park in all of South Carolina, it is easy to argue that Table Rock State Park is it. See for yourself while the temperatures are perfect for a hike or plan your day on the lake once summer temperatures are upon us.