Wow, this place was an unexpected treat! I picked it over the nearby Kings Mountain State Park in South Carolina because a photographer I follow had posted some photos from here that looked amazing.
The drive up from Hamilton Branch was delightful, which I don’t often say when I’m towing and aiming for a new destination. Once I got off I-26 near Spartanburg and started in on a series of ever-smaller back roads, I was positively quivering with anticipation. Every turn showed more of the South Mountains, with lovely valleys and farms popping up along the way. I had the windows open to let in all that sweet-smelling Spring air, enjoying the warm weather that had been rare the last few weeks.
The campground itself is small, 18 sites, with only two featuring my favorite thing, electrical hookups. Both those sites are at the edge of a day-use visitor parking area, so there was a fair bit of traffic during the day. The park closes (gates locked!) at 10PM, so it got quiet by dark (8PM or so) every night. I could deal with it, because, well, look at this site…
Most of the time I was at my site, I had all four windows open to catch the cool breeze and hear the sound of the river that was right across the parking lot from me. There really is nothing like the sound of rushing water to make me feel so relaxed. I sat outside reading and writing most days, just enjoying my little bit of heaven on earth.
The park has an extensive set of trails, including a spur that takes off from right at the other edge of the parking lot. (The parking lot was hikers and fishermen, with trout fishing being the clear draw for most park visitors I spotted). The trail winds along the river to the main parking area about a half mile away. It might be the most scenic half-mile I’ve hiked in quite some time!
Just the other side of that bridge, I surprised a huge gathering of yellow butterflies congregated on a downed log. I startled them before I realized they were there, sending them all afluttering through the air. That was mesmerizing and I watched it for at least 10 minutes, slowly backing away to try and not upset them any more than I already had. (I have a photo but you honestly can’t see many butterflies in it, so never mind.)
Where the little trail meets the main parking lot, it connects to more trails and again crosses the river. If you look closely, you can see a red dot in about the middle of the image above. A family was having fun crossing the river using logs and stones as a makeshift path. It also provides a sense of scale, something photographers love to do with landscape photos so you understand better how big (or small) something is. This, to me, was a nice people-sized river; not so big as to be scary and yet big enough to provide that lovely “rushing water” sound.
I tell you, there’s really nothing like Spring in the mountains. Masses of Mountain Laurel, water rushing down the riverbed, and brilliant blue skies and vibrant green trees and bushes – who could ask for anything more?
Although I deeply love oceans, deserts and other wild landscapes, it is only mountains that beckon me with that sort of painful magnetic pull to walk deeper and deeper into their beauty.
4 thoughts on “South Mountains State Park, NC”
This is a spectacular campground, Annie! Wow, what gorgeous pictures. Another place to add to our North Carolina to-do list.
Gorgeous photos and the small out of the way park sounds awesome. Of all the things that I miss about camping, it may be the quiet that I miss most.
Absolutely gorgeous photos. I really appreciate you sharing this beautiful spot. It looks like a great place to just be on your own and explore everything nature has to offer there.
OH MY GOSH this is beautiful!!! What a lovely place. I need to start camping down there. My sister just camped at a Smoky Mountain National Park campground, she said it was beautiful too. I was just camping at Platt River Campground in Sleeping Bear National Park in northern Michigan, also a beautiful campground. There were 5 Altos in our 27 site loop, and more in other sites, when we arrived. The next day (Monday) I was walking around our loop and asked a woman who was hitching up her Alto why there were so many. Turns out they had a meetup that weekend! She loved her Alto, and I know I would too…though they are 2 years out now in building them. It was so cold during my 5 days in my tent that I was coveting any RV! I can’t wait to see where you go next!