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Grab your hiking shoes, your canoe, your binoculars, your beach chair, and your sense of adventure – South Carolina has outdoor excitement and thrills for the whole family. With a landscape ranging from verdant peaks to rolling pasture to a long expanse of coastline, there is adventure waiting for you in South Carolina no matter what your passion is.
South Carolina’s Upstate cradles the tail end of the mighty Appalachians, and here you’ll find a perfect landscape for hiking. Hop on the 1.5-mile trail to Fall Creek Falls at Jones Gap State Park and experience not just a gorgeous 100-foot tall waterfall but also part of the 40,000-acre Mountain Bridge Wilderness Area. Cool off with a jump into Eastatoe Gorge, which is accessed by an old logging road or discover a hidden jewel when you make the trek to Big Rock Mountain. The state’s highest point is Sassafras Mountain, and you can stand atop its 3,533-foot summit after a short and easy hike and enjoy views across the Upstate and into the North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains.
Hikers will be well-rewarded with a trip to Columbia, the state’s capital. Sesquicentennial State Park has 12 miles of hiking trails to stretch your legs on, while Harbison State Forest has 18 miles of trails perfect for walking, hiking, or jogging. The Three Rivers Greenway cuts through the heart of the city and totals 8.5 miles. The Saluda Shoals Trail is an easy 3-mile jaunt through native hardwood forest.
Those heading to the coast will find scenic hiking both on and off the water. Hilton Head has beautiful trails while the Conway Riverwalk takes you past scenic vistas and well-tended gardens. The West Ashley Greenway in Charleston provides access to broad expanses of grassy lawns, while the Indian Mound Trail on Edisto Island lets you view a fascinating historic site.
Mountain biking is gaining in popularity in South Carolina, and you’ll find dozens of miles of well-tended trails to shred. Near Clemson you can ride the scenic single track in Fants Grove or explore the large trail network at Lake Issaqueena. Some of the state’s best trails can be found near Greenville, which is home to Paris Mountain State Park. Closer to Spartanburg, Croft State Park has trails reaching across more than 7,000 acres of rolling, wooded terrain. Near Sumter, Poinsett State Park has a well-developed trail network leading to shelters and overlooks. On the coast you can find trails in Horry County Bike Park and Hunting Island State Park.
Those who prefer skinny tires will find great road routes. Popular rides include the Carolina Connector, the Northern Crescent, the Central Route, and the Savannah River Run. Fat bikes are perfected for exploring the beaches and more remote areas of the state – wide tires rule on the Marrington Trail, Biggin Trail, and the Wannamaker North Trail.
South Carolina’s great coastline means there is plenty of water for anglers to explore, both offshore and inland. Oodles of charter companies operate out of Charleston, but you can also find guides in Myrtle Beach, Mt. Pleasant, and Hilton Head. Deep sea catches include sea bass, trigger fish, barracuda, cobia, mackerel, trout, bluefish, flounder, billfish, and wahoo. Those who prefer lakes to the open ocean will find tons of spots to troll for bass, shad, perch, bullhead, sunfish, sturgeon, gar, and more. Top spots to cast into include Lake Murray, Beaufort Marshes, Lake Wateree, Lake Greenwood, Lake Marion, and Lake Jocassee. Fly fishers in South Carolina are rewarded with great spots to land a fly – pack your waders and head to the Middle Saluda River, the Chattooga River, the Chauga River, the Whitewater River, and the Eastatoe River.
The Palmetto State has 187 miles of Atlantic Ocean coastline, and there are some great spots for surfing and kite surfing. You can find great waves on Folly Beach, Myrtle Beach, and Surfside Beach. Those who like to boogie on stand-up paddleboards will want to head to Charleston, North Myrtle Beach, Hilton Head, Mt. Pleasant, and Folly Beach.
Sailboats let the breeze do the work for you, and sailing is popular both on the coast and inland. Unfurl your spinnaker and explore Charleston Harbor, Lake Hartwell, Johns Island, Lake Keowee, Myrtle Beach, and Lake Jocassee. Love sailing but don’t know how to do it? Head to Charleston, where pros like Charleston Trimaran, Charleston Sailing, and Om Sailing will get you on the water.
South Carolina’s unique cypress swamps present a memorable setting for canoeing and flatwater kayaking. The small lakes at Oconee, Table Rock, and Sesquicentennial state parks are great for beginners, while the slow-moving Edisto River has great stretches of water to paddle. More advanced paddlers will want to toss a boat into the Broad River, the Tyger River, and the Pacolet River in the Upstate; Cedar Creek, the Little Pee Dee, and the Four Holes Swamp in the Midlands; and the Ashley River, the Ashepoo, River, the Waccamaw River, and the Cooper River in the coastal region.
Ziplining is taking the state by storm, and there are a number of top-notch spots that let you soar safely across the tree tops. Rock Hill is home to Canaan Zip Line Tours, while Little River has an outpost of Go Ape Zip Line and Treetop Adventures. In Adendaw you can gear up at Charleston Zip Line Adventures, and Zipline Hilton Head sports some of the best views around.
Rock climbers can claw their way up vertical surfaces both indoors and out. Great climbing walls can be found at the Coastal Climbing Gym in Charleston, Mountain Goat Climbing Gym in Greenville, and Climb Upstate in Spartanburg. Real rock can be tamed at Jones Gap State Park, Seven Foot Falls, Peachtree Rock Nature Conservancy, and Table Rock.
Lace up your boots, wax your surfboard, or hop on your bike – South Carolina is brimming with unique outdoor adventures.