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Upstate Parks and Natural Areas

Parks and Natural Areas

Whether visiting local community parks, hiking in the mountains, or inland sailing on the local lakes, the climate and geography of the Upstate invites outdoor recreation. Area parks, forests, and nature reserves give the Upstate a unique character. Table Rock Mountain is probably the Upstate’s best-known landmark, and the state park named for it is one of the state’s oldest and most popular parks. Record numbers of visitors have enjoyed camping, hiking, boating, fishing, swimming, and nature trails. 

Some of the Upstate’s parks even offer visitors a taste of history. Kings Mountain is a national military park featuring exhibits and a battlefield trail. Contiguous to the national park is Kings Mountain State Park . The state park maintains and operates a frontier homestead known as the Living Farm; the park also offers camping, swimming, and other recreational amenities. Nature lovers can also combine outdoor recreation with history when visiting the historic Reedy River Falls Park , which is the site of the original 1776 settlement in Greenville . The park is now a riverside greenway with walking paths, picnic spots, six landscaped garden areas, and two waterfalls all in the midst of downtown Greenville . In addition, Croft State Natural Area, which was once part of a World War II Army training camp, now offers visitors 7,054 acres of rolling terrain, including a 21-mile equestrian trail. The park also provides a natural habitat for deer, wild turkey, and many other animals. 

Caesars Head is an excellent park for nature enthusiasts and photographers. This park joins Jones Gap State Park and other natural areas to comprise the Mountain Bridge Wilderness and Recreation Area. At 3,266 feet above sea level, Caesars Head provides a panoramic view of nearby valleys, Table Rock, Pinnacle Mountains , and other distant peaks of the Blue Ridge Mountains . Raven Cliff Falls , situated along one of the Park's many hiking trails, is one of the highest waterfalls in the eastern . Visitors enjoy hiking, biking, and bird watching.

Paris Mountain State Park , located only a short drive from downtown Greenville , offers visitors a quiet place to relax in a mountain setting. Formerly a watershed for the City, Paris Mountain is one of the oldest protected areas in South Carolina . This 1275-acre park is well known for its stands of large trees, lake swimming, hiking, and numerous picnic areas.

Nearby Chimney Rock is also a popular destination. Native Americans were probably the first to climb the giant rock, followed by settlers who also enjoyed the spectacular view. Throughout the year, the Park is host to a variety of special activities including rope and rock climbing demonstrations, nature workshops, the annual Easter Sunrise service, Heights of Spring celebration, Krazy With Kudzu fall programs, and December holiday programs.

Corporate residents have even added to the outdoor recreation possibilities in the Upstate. Milliken & Company’s grounds offer the public a grassy, wooded area with a duck pond and fountains. The company’s campus is great for relaxing strolls and picnics.

Horseback riders enjoy the Foothills Equestrian Nature Center . This 210-acre preserve combines resources for nature study with award-winning equestrian facilities. The facility also hosts the famous Blockhouse Steeple Chase.