John F. Kennedy once said, “It is the course of wisdom to set aside an ample portion of our natural resources as national parks and reserves, thus ensuring that future generations may know the majesty of the earth as we know it today.”
Greenville, SC is fortunate to be surrounded by several state parks and other opportunities to enjoy the great outdoors. Learn about some of these adventures waiting for you in the South Carolina Upstate.
Paris Mountain State Park
Just a few minutes from downtown Greenville is Paris Mountain State Park, a popular destination for bikers and hikers year round. Its 1,540 acres of parkland includes four lakes, a swimming area, six picnic shelters, and 15 miles of hiking and biking trails. Guests can also enjoy the park’s camping facilities, which include paved camping sites, 13 of which offer tent pads, and five trailside campsites around the North Lake Trail Loop.
Caesars Head State Park
A 50-minute drive north of Greenville will get you to Caesars Head State Park. Named for a granitic gneiss outcropping atop the Blue Ridge Escarpment, the park offers opportunities for camping, hiking, fishing, bird watching and geocaching. One of the most popular trails at Caesars Head is the two-mile Raven Cliff Falls trail. It leads to 420-foot Raven Cliff Falls, where a suspension bridge offers one of the two publicly accessible overlooks to the falls.
Jones Gap State Park
Located in Marietta, SC—about 45 minutes from Greenville—is Jones Gap State Park. A network of easy to strenuous hiking trails links Jones Gap with Caesars Head in what is known as the Mountain Bridge Wilderness Area. Together, it includes 11,000 acres of pristine mountain woodlands. Additionally, the state’s first designated scenic river, the Middle Saluda River, runs through Jones Gap and offers some of the state’s best trout fishing.
Within an hour of Greenville are several lakes for water-based activities. Lake Hartwell is located 60 miles southwest of the city. At 56,000 acres, it is one of the biggest in the state. Above Lake Hartwell is Lake Keowee, a 18,500-acre reservoir that has lake houses and a few marinas. Lake Jocassee is a 7,500-acre reservoir above Lake Keowee. Most of Jocassee’s shoreline is protected from development, but boats can be launched from the public boat ramp at Devils Fork State Park.
The Gorge: A Zip Line Canopy Adventure
The Gorge is located 50 minutes north of Greenville in the famous Green River Gorge in Saluda, North Carolina. It offers over a mile of cable covering 11 zip lines that descend 1,100 vertical feet into the gorge, as well as a suspension bridge, three free fall rappels and a short hike down hill. The course—which is one of the fastest in the country—overlooks 10,000 acres.
Learn more at thegorgezipline.com.
U.S. National Whitewater Center
About 90 minutes northeast of Greenville outside Charlotte, North Carolina, is the U.S. National Whitewater Center. Located on 700 acres along the Catawba River, it is home to the world’s largest man-made whitewater river. The center offers opportunities for whitewater rafting and kayaking, flatwater kayaking, stand-up paddle boarding, rock climbing, zip lines, ropes courses, a canopy tour, and mountain biking on our 25+ mile trail system.
Learn more at usnwc.org.