GVL Guides    Lifestyle

10 must-try hiking trails in S.C. ๐Ÿ”

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Sassafras Mountain to Caesarโ€™s Head
Whether you're a beginner or a hiking pro, here are 10 trails you have to check out. | Photo by @madolins.photos

Where to go hiking in South Carolina

Hiking in South Carolina. Our state may not be the first thing you think of when you think of great hikingย โ€“ but it definitely should. S.C. has 400+ hiking trails across the state, offering something for every type of hiker โ€“ whether you want to see cool waterfalls or you want to rack up some serious miles.

At Girls Who Hike S.C., we encourage all women to check out the hiking fun S.C. has to offer.

Our top 10 trail recommendations:

๐Ÿž Congaree National Park Trailsย 

๐Ÿ“ Hopkins, S.C. | ๐Ÿš˜ 2 hours from GVL | ๐Ÿ‘Ÿ Trail Distance: Various | Difficulty: Easy

Best Features: This is the only National Park in South Carolina. It features the largest intact, old growth bottomland hardwood forest remaining in the Southeast, so itโ€™s like walking back in time. All trails start at the visitors center and are well-marked. Once you leave the boardwalk you will encounter a lot of fallen trees. So, although the altitude doesnโ€™t change, youโ€™ll get a great hurdles workout and see some cool root systems.

Congaree National Park Trails
Photo by @hdcarolina

 

๐Ÿž S.C. Foothills Trailย 

๐Ÿ“ Upstate, with teminuses at Oconee + Table Rock State Parks | ๐Ÿš˜ ~1.5 hours from GVL | ๐Ÿ‘Ÿ Trail Distance: 77 miles with 14 passages | Difficulty: Easy to strenuous

Best Features: This trail is great for day hike or overnight trips. There are several beautiful waterfalls and a section of the trail follows the S.C./N.C. state line. You also have a low chance of seeing others on the trail, so itโ€™s a great way to enjoy nature and connect with your hiking companions.

S.C. Foothills Trail
Photo by @amandajohnsonphoto

 

๐Ÿž Palmetto Trailย 

๐Ÿ“ Statewide, with several passages in the Upstate | ๐Ÿš˜ Drive time from GVL: Various | ๐Ÿ‘Ÿ Trail Distance: 500 miles | Difficulty: Various

Best Features: This mountain-to-sea trail goes right through downtown Columbia and itโ€™s the only urban trail on our list. The Capital City passage is 7.5 miles and takes you through the heart of Columbia out to Fort Jackson. We also recommend the Peak to Prosperity passage where you will walk over a dozen old train trestles. This trail head is about an hour north in Pomaria.

Palmetto Trail
Photo by @moholton.jpg

 

๐Ÿž Rainbow Fallsย 

๐Ÿ“ Greenville, S.C. in Jones Gap State Park | ๐Ÿš˜ 1.5 hours from GVL | ๐Ÿ‘Ÿ Trail Distance: 5 miles | Difficulty: Strenuous

Best Features: At the top of the trail youโ€™re greeted by a 100-ft. waterfall. Along the way youโ€™ll have great views of the valley and walk along a mountain stream. One word of caution, Jones Gap is extremely popular, so get there early. Itโ€™s not uncommon for visitors to wait an hour before being allowed to enter the park, but once youโ€™re on trail, you wonโ€™t regret the wait.

Rainbow Falls
Photo by @_mis_adventures

 

๐Ÿž Forks Area Trail Systemย 

๐Ÿ“ Clarks Hill, S.C. | ๐Ÿš˜ 2 hours from GVL | ๐Ÿ‘Ÿ Trail Distance: Total 37 miles | Difficulty: Easy to moderate

Best Features: This is another diverse trail system and part of the Sumter National Forest (read: hidden gem). These trails crisscross all over the hills overlooking the Savannah River. Think of these hills as the perfect training ground for more vertical hikes.

Forks Area Trail System
Photo by @natureisticly

 

๐Ÿž Peachtree Rock Heritage Preserveย 

๐Ÿ“ Lexington, S.C. | ๐Ÿš˜ ~2 hours from GVL | ๐Ÿ‘Ÿ Trail Distance: 7.5 miles | Difficulty: Easy

Best Features: This 306-acre refuge is dedicated to the protection of some unique sandstone formations. The most famous, Peachtree Rock, looks like a precariously balanced overturned pyramid. Just north of Peachtree Rock and ย you will see the only naturally occurring waterfall in the Midlands, a 20-ft. drop into Hunt Creek.

Edit: Sadly, Peachtree Rock crumbled and is no longer there. Thanks to a reader for letting us know.ย ๐Ÿ˜ฅ

Peachtree Rock Heritage Preserve
Photo by @grandparich

 

๐Ÿž Raven Rock Loop Trailย 

๐Ÿ“ Sunset, S.C., in Keowee-Toxaway State Park | ย ๐Ÿš˜ 1 hour from GVL | ๐Ÿ‘Ÿ Trail Distance: 4.2 miles | Difficulty: Moderate

Best Features: This is a great quick getaway hike. The trail starts out easily and crosses the Poe creek over a natural granite bridge. The next section is uphill through a boulder field topping out and dropping into a steep valley. You climb out to the top of the ridge and generally ridge walk until the descent to Lake Keowee.

Raven Rock Loop Trail
Photo by @tracysphotos

 

๐Ÿž Sassafras Mountain to Caesarโ€™s Headย 

๐Ÿ“ Upstate, along the N.C./S.C. state line | ๐Ÿš˜ 1 hour from GVL | ๐Ÿ‘Ÿ Trail Distance: 14.5 miles one-way | Difficulty: Strenuous

Best Features: This is an arduous, wooded trail that follows the N.C./S.C. state line from the peak of Sassafras Mountain to Caesars Head State Park. The trail is worth it, though, as it features wonderful views from Sassafras Mountain (the highest peak in S.C.) and Raven Cliff Falls.

Sassafras Mountain to Caesarโ€™s Head
Photo by @madolins.photos

 

๐Ÿž Awendaw Passage โ€“ Palmetto Trailย 

๐Ÿ“ Awendaw, S.C. | ๐Ÿš˜ ~3.5 hours from GVL | ๐Ÿ‘Ÿ Trail Distance: 7.1 miles | Difficulty: Easy

Best Features: Youโ€™ll pass through maritime forests and sweeping vistas of Lowcountry salt marsh along Awendaw Creek. At Walnut Grove, look for a scenic overlook and boardwalk.

Awendaw Passage โ€“ Palmetto Trail
Photo by @daniel.l.timmons

 

๐Ÿž Wannamaker North Trailย 

๐Ÿ“ North Charleston, S.C. | ๐Ÿš˜ 3 hours from GVL | ๐Ÿ‘Ÿ Trail Distance: 13 miles | Difficulty: Easy

Best Features: This 13-mile trail is designed for + open to mountain bicyclists of all experience levels. The trail is also open to hikers, walkers and runners.

Wannamaker North Trail
Photo by @_jibran_

Girls Who Hike started two years ago + spread to S.C. last fall. We are helping hundreds of women across S.C. hit the trail by hosting official hikes every month + connecting members to other hiking-minded women.

Learn more about any of these 10 trails on S.C.โ€™s official trail guide.

Happy Trails,

โ€“Kailani, Stacy, LeAnn + Tara

Girls Who Hike SC Ambassadors

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