As the summertime temperatures continue to heat up, shaded tree canopies and cool lakes and streams don’t just sound nice, but they become a necessity. A brisk swim, hiking alongside creeks and waterfalls, and camping under the stars are not only ways to stay cool and experience nature but are also an inexpensive way to make lifetime memories.
With its easy access off State Highway 11 in Pickens, the 3,083-acre Table Rock State Park offers something for everyone. While the park is well known to outdoor enthusiasts for its natural features, Table Rock also has its place in history. Many of the Table Rock State Park cabins and other structures built by the CCC remain standing and are on the National Register of Historic Places.
Throughout the summer, Table Rock State Park hosts special programs such as Music on the Mountain, featuring local blue grass musicians in a “jam” session and moonlight and flora and fauna floats on Pinnacle Lake.
There are two lakes at Table Rock State Park—the 67-acre Lake Oolenoy and 36-acre Pinnacle Lake. Both lakes are great for fishing with bass, bream, and catfish. Lake Oolenoy, located near the visitors’ center, offers two fishing piers, and a boat ramp provides private boat access for boats with electric trolling motors only.
On Pinnacle Lake, private boats are not allowed but rental fishing boats, canoes, kayaks and pedal boats are available for rent at the park. A swimming area on Pinnacle Lake has a lifeguard, sandy beach, and low and high diving boards.
Table Rock State Park has several hiking trails, some of which serve as an access point for the 80-mile Foothills Trail that hikers can use to travel between other SC state parks.
The Lakeside Trail is an easy 1.9-mile loop that takes you around Pinnacle Lake. The Civil Conservation Corps started this trail in the mid-1930s and the loop was completed in 2011.
A favorite is the 1.9 mile Carrick Creek Trail. It’s a fairly moderate trail but is challenging with sometimes steep elevation changes and several creek crossings, following Carrick Creek for a good portion of the trail. It’s heavily forested, and local wildlife such as black bears, deer, turkeys, and bobcats have been spotted.
The 3.6-mile Table Rock NRT Trail is very challenging and takes hikers to the top of Table Rock, offering spectacular views.
Other trails include the Mill Creek Pass trail, a short .6-mile trail that connects the 4.2-mile Pinnacle Mountain Trail with the 1.9-mile Ridge Trail.
Table Rock State Park has 94 camp sites at two campgrounds, trailside camping, and primitive walk-in sites. Campsites have individual water and electrical hookups and picnic table. Some sites can accommodate RVs up to 40 feet. Both campgrounds are convenient to restrooms with hot showers.
Pine Point trailside camping area is the designated tent camping area, located near the visitor center. This area includes six primitive trailside sites, and there is no access to flush toilets or power.
A primitive walk-in camping area with central water is located near Lake Oolenoy. Three primitive group areas with central water and privy are available for organized groups: Fox Hill Group site (6 tent pads), Owl Tree Group Site (11 tent pads), and Bobcat Creek Group site (7 tent pads).
There are also 16 one-, two- and three-bedroom cabins available for rent. Each cabin comes with heating and air-conditioning, a screen porch and fireplace. The cabins are furnished and stocked with bath and bed linens, basic cooking and eating utensils, automatic coffee maker, refrigerator, stove, and microwave.
A country store located at the campground entrance offers limited grocery items, drinks, snacks, firewood, and souvenirs. The park visitor center located on SC Hwy 11 also has an assortment of souvenir items, snacks, drinks, and books.
For weddings, groups, and other special events, the lodge at Table Rock State Park is a carefully restored CCC-era facility with a commanding view of Table Rock Mountain, a large upstairs lodge room with furniture and fireplaces, and a 72-seat dining room and catering kitchen on the lower level.
Four group picnics, shelters, numerous picnic tables, and playgrounds are available throughout the park, so load up the kids, bring a picnic, and enjoy the outdoors.
Directions: From Greenville take Highway 276 to SC 11 and go west 6.6 miles. The visitors; center is on the left but the main park is to the right. A sign indicates Table Rock State Park West Entrance. From I-26: Take SC-Exit 5 onto Hwy 11 towards Campobello. Call or check the website for fees, hours, and other information.