Here are some free and highly rewarding outdoor activities near Oconee State Park and Lake Jocassee in the breath-taking (I know I used this term a lot…but it’s so true) South Carolina Upcountry and Western North Carolina. Your kids will remember these trips for ever. To help you plan ahead here is a custom Google Map with these waterfalls as well as other area attractions worth shouting about.
Issaqueena Falls and the Stumphouse Tunnel
Issaqueena is the most visited waterfall and the only one with a “Romeo and Juliet” like love story. Legend has it Issaqueena rode her horse great distance to warn her (white-man) husband about fast approaching Indians seeking revenge for her marriage betrayal. Some say she died during the quest others speak of a happy ending. Either way the power of love prevailed.
The hike from the viewing area to the bottom of the fall is short but strenuous. I had to piggy back carry my 4 years old but we were rewarded with an up close view of the 200 feet gorgeous waterfall.
While in the area visit the Stumphouse Tunnel where big railroad dreams crushed but the blue cheese flourished. 1,500 Irish-immigrants workers and their families came to Stumphouse Mountain to work on the tunnel meant to complete the railroad from Charleston all the way to Ohio. In the 1850s “Tunnel Hill was a rough town with more saloons than churches”. The tunnel supposed to be 5,863 feet long and its deepest point 236 feet below the surface. However the massive granite stone posed significant challenges and workers could barely get to 200 feet a month.
It was hard back-breaking labor of 12 hours a day six days a week using only sledge hammers, hand drills and black powder. The Civil War and constant lack of funding put an end to the project and Tunnel Hill faded into history.
In 1940s Dr. Paul G. Miller from Clemson University noticed the tunnel ideal conditions for curing blue cheese: year around temperature of 59 degrees and 85% humidity.
Issaqueena Falls and the Stumphouse Tunnel are located on Hwy 28 between Walhalla and Oconee State Park.
At 700 feet the Whitewater Falls are the highest falls series in the East (the Upper ones are 411 feet). The falls are close to Devils Fork and Oconee State Park and you can get to the park from highways 28, 107, 11 and 130. You will need to pay $2 daily admission fee. A half mile trail takes you to a breath-taking viewing area; beware the last segment has steep boardwalk steps. There is no trail to reach the base of the Upper Whitewater falls.
If you travel with little kids make sure to point out the funny cartoon sign remind them how dangerous the waterfall area can be. It worked well with my daughter.
Oconee Station Cove Falls
You can access the trail leading to the Cove Falls from Oconee Historic Station parking lot or Oconee State Park (connecting from the Oconee Trail). This is by far the longest (~3 miles round trip) and most diverse hike around a peaceful pond, through odd shaped trees, into a deep eerie forest, and along an intimate and refreshing creek.
At the end it’s all worth it. The fall has a wide base area which makes it very popular with kids as they can hop around the rocks and get in the water safely.
Table Rock Falls
The Table Rock State Park has lots of mini waterfalls along the 1.9 mile Carrick Creek Trail that loops around the Nature Center. This is the only recommended trail for hiking with young children. With a fall every other minute it provides instant gratification to the little ones and perfect photo background. Right above the Nature Center it’s a fantastic rock-sliding and swimming spot little children just adore. This is the perfect “bribe” to keep them hiking on your way back.
Bridal Veil and Cullasaja Falls
These are separate falls located along scenic Hwy 64 between Highlands and Franklin, the NC gem and gold mining star. Yes is the other Carolina but very close to the border and worth shouting about!
Bridal Veil is the only one I know of that you can drive through it. Cullasaja river boasts the teens’ favorite rock-sliding and swimming spot in the area. Motorists stop frequently to take photos, enjoy the incredible views and just have a laugh watching the children jump Tarzan-style into the river.
Make sure to stop by the Jackson Hole Gem Mine for some rubies and sapphires rock-hounding. Your kids will love that.
Downtown Greenville Reedy River Falls
You can picnic, walk, jog, bike, feed ducks and geese, play freesbie with the dog and enjoy the free entertainment at the pavilion.
Little kids love splashing about at the man-made water park or take part in classical story tales at the Children’s Garden. Everyone is invited to a funny quirky “Mice on Main” scavenger hunt downtown and to greet elephants, lions and giraffes at nearby Greenville Zoo!
History lovers and art collectors must visit Pendleton, “the Charleston of the Upstate“. The entire town is on the National Register of Historic Places. Notable attractions: Farmer’s Hall (oldest continuous operating hall in the country), Hunter’s Store, Ashtabula (1st licensed tavern), Old Stone Church (where Andrew Pickens and Gen. Anderson are buried) and Woodburn (centuries old 4 story mansion and farm)
Safe hiking and happy waterfall viewing in the Carolinas!
Filed under: Charlotte, Devils Fork State Park, Free Things to Do, Greenville, Inspirational, Oconee State Park, Swimming, Table Rock & Caesars Head Parks, Walking and Jogging Tagged: | Bridal Veil Falls, Charlotte family fun things to do, Cullasaja rock sliding, free things to do around Charlotte, Greenville family attractions, Greenville free things to do, Greenville weekend fun, Issaqueena Falls, Outdoor Greenville fun, waterfalls hiking trails, what to do with kids in Greenville, Whitewater Falls