South Carolina is full of rich history, stunning waterfalls, and lovely vegetation that hikers can appreciate. The state is covered in well-conditioned trails, with most trailheads beginning at popular state parks and historic sites. These trails have been designed for hikers of all abilities.
This post will walk you through all the best opportunities for hiking in South Carolina. It doesn’t matter whether you’re planning your first-ever hiking adventure or you’re a seasoned hiker; there are trails for everyone to enjoy throughout the state.
Keep reading to see all the best trails for hiking in South Carolina!
Best Easy Hiking in South Carolina
These trails are intended for those looking for an easy, flat hike in South Carolina.
1. Oconee Station and Station Cove Fall Trail
Oconee Station and Station Cove Fall Trail are located at the Oconee Station State Historic Site. Together, they make up two miles of easy, carefree hiking in South Carolina. This hike is a favorite of Upstate naturalists.
Both trails lead you to a gorgeous view of Station Cove Falls, a 60-foot waterfall and among the prettiest in the county
Station Cove Falls has a rich history. In 1792, the first European settlers of Oconee County built Oconee Station, a small wood-and-stone house about a mile from the waterfall. This fort and an 1805 house were intended to protect settlers from the Cherokee.
Today, the military fort and nearby residence are on the National Register of Historic Places.
2. Boardwalk Loop Trail
The Boardwalk Loop Trail, Congaree National Park’s most popular hiking trail, offers hikers in South Carolina easy access to natural sights. The 2.4-mile trail starts at Harry Hampton Visitor Center, where you can pick up a self-guided Boardwalk Tour brochure.
This boardwalk trail is marked with several historical sites to educate hikers in South Carolina about the area’s rich history.
The soil and vegetation transition into a wetter, dense layer of soil, often referred to as a muck swamp because the water source in the area is from a 600-foot thick sand layer from millions of years of deposits.
You won’t be in the swamp long, though, since the trail leads into higher and drier soil conditions. Throughout your hike, you’ll pass various species of trees and wildlife.
3. Winding Stairs Trail
The Winding Stairs Trail at Cherry Hill Recreation Area is an easy, beginner hike as long as you start at the northern trailhead (located at the recreation area entrance). The 3.5-mile trail leads to a 75-foot waterfall.
Beginner hikers are advised to arrange to be picked up at the southern trailhead because the hike back can be a challenge, with a 1,100 feet elevation change. Alternatively, if you want a more difficult hike, you can start at the southern trailhead and hike toward the Cherry Hill Recreation Area.
4. The Doodle Trail
The Doodle Trail is an easy 7.5-mile multi-use trail that opened in 2015 as a partnership between the City of Easley and the City of Pickens. The Pickens trailhead is one block from downtown, and the Easley trailhead is about half a mile from downtown.
The trail is away from traffic and only has a few railroad crossings. It passes over several scenic bridges, and there are two parks along the trail: Easley’s Doodle Park and Pickens’s Railroad Park.
5. Spanish Mount Trail
Spanish Mount Trail (sometimes referred to as Indian Mound Trail) at Edisto Beach State Park is an easy hike in South Carolina that leads to a fascinating piece of history: The Indian Mound (also called the Spanish Mount).
The Indian Mound is a mysterious shell mound dating back to 2,000 B.C. when Native Americans created a shell ring and filled it with oyster shells over many years. Archaeologists say it’s a mystery as to why they did this, though it’s incredible.
Unfortunately, the mound won’t last forever, so now is the best time to visit Edisto Beach State Park and hike along the Spanish Mount Trail.
Edisto Beach State Park, in general, is the perfect place for beginner hikers in South Carolina to visit since the park features over four miles of ADA-accessible trails.
6. Timmerman Trail in Cayce
Timmerman Trail is part of the Cayce Riverwalk in Cayce, South Carolina. It is a popular concrete trail appropriate for strollers, wheelchairs, and roller skates that follow the west side of Congaree Creek.
The trail offers an easy 3.5-mile hike, although South Carolina hikers are advised to be on the lookout for snakes, birds, alligators, and other wildlife that may pop up. This is a beautiful trail for taking photos, especially of the creek.
Best Moderate Hiking in South Carolina
If you’re ready for a slight challenge but don’t want to experience a trail that’s too intense while hiking in South Carolina, then a moderate hiking trail is what you want. Take a look at the best trails for moderate hiking in South Carolina.
7. The Palmetto Trail
The Palmetto Trail is 500 miles of cross-state hiking alongside lakes, swamps, and mountain ridges. It enters cities and towns of all sizes, taking hikers in South Carolina through a multitude of forests. This trail is no more than two hours away from any section of the state.
Over half of the trail is completed—380 to be exact—and the remaining 120 miles are under construction. The trail connects state and county parks, national forests, national preserves, and wildlife management areas.
Varying terrain types are found throughout the Palmetto Trail, with a mix of easy, moderate, and strenuous elevations. There are 31 passages throughout the trail, ranging from 1.3 to 47 miles.
The Palmetto Trail is a must-stop when hiking in South Carolina!
8. Yellow Branch Falls Trail
The Yellow Branch Falls trail is a moderately challenging out-and-back trail that takes hikers in South Carolina to a stunning 50-foot waterfall. This trail can be found after a short hike on Yellow Branch Nature Trail. In the winter, parts of the city of Walhalla are visible from the trail.
While the beginning of the trail is easy, the trail becomes moderately difficult when you hike along steeper terrain about one mile before the waterfall. The trail will wind downward, passing along the mountainside, then level out as you get closer to the waterfall.
Hikers in South Carolina are advised to use caution during wet conditions since the trail is on the edge of deep ravines. If it hasn’t rained in a while, the cascade will be just a trickle of water.
9. Brasstown Falls Trail
Brasstown Falls is a 120-foot waterfall located on the southern edge of Sumter National Forest. Little Brasstown Falls is also accessible from the Brasstown Falls Trail.
The hike to both waterfalls is approximately a one-mile round trip and includes easy to difficult walking paths, with the longest being a .15-mile moderately difficult walking trail.
South Carolina hikers are advised to watch their steps—viewing platforms and stairways to them can be slippery. Also, you will not have cell service at the trailhead or while on the trail.
Best Difficult Hiking in South Carolina
If you’re a hiking professional and find difficult hiking trails exciting, then the following trails are what you’re looking for when hiking in South Carolina.
10. Table Rock Trail
Table Rock Trail is a very popular and strenuous path at Table Rock State Park, found in the northwest corner of South Carolina. This 3.6-mile trail is a rugged hike and elevates 2,000 feet to the highest point of a granite dome.
The scenic trail includes sights of vegetation common in the Southern Appalachians, including oak and hickory trees with some pines and hemlock. This hike begins at the Nature Center and ascends through forests and boulders.
11. Sulphur Springs Trail
Sulphur Springs Trail is a strenuous hike over a rocky and rugged loop trail. Hikers in South Carolina can start this trail in either direction at Paris Mountain State Park’s Picnic Area Six. The trail typically takes around 2.5 hours to complete.
You will hike through a mixed pine and hardwood forest atop a mountain ridge and climb up and down deep ravines. You may see birds, snakes, deer, and other wildlife along your hike. This is a beautiful trail to visit while hiking in South Carolina.
The trail flattens along the shores of Mountain Lake, where hikers pass a large dam and follow one of the several trail branches that take you back to the parking lot where the trail started. This is an exciting adventure to check out on your South Carolina hiking trip.
12. Raven Cliff Falls Trail and Dismal Trail Loop
On its own, Raven Cliff Falls Trail at Caesars Head State Park is only a moderate hike. But when hikers follow the Dismal Trail Loop from Raven Cliff, the journey becomes quite strenuous. Raven Cliff Falls is the most popular hike at Caesars Head and leads visitors to a view of the highest waterfall in South Carolina.
The Raven Cliff Falls Overlook is a 4.4-mile trail that takes around two to three hours roundtrip. From Raven Cliff, hikers can take the Dismal Loop, which is an 8.3-mile trail recommended only for those who are physically fit and are seeking a considerable challenge.
The Dismal Loop has a 1,200-foot elevation drop going down. This loop typically takes hikers five to seven hours to complete roundtrip, so plan to spend the better part of your day hiking if you dream of completing The Dismal Loop.
13. Pinnacle Pass Trail
Pinnacle Pass Trail is a 10-mile hike also at Caesars Head State Park that leads to a beautiful view from the top of the highest ridges in the state. It’s also the longest trail in the Mountain Bridge Wilderness Area. It’s quite strenuous, but it offers some of the best views on the East Coast.
14. Rainbow Falls and Jones Gapp Falls Trails
Rainbow and Jones Gapp Falls Trails can be found in Jones Gap State Park. Hikers in South Carolina will need a parking reservation to enjoy these trails on weekends and holidays. Together, these two trails are about 7.5 miles. You can expect to spend around four hours hiking in South Carolina on these trails.
Hikers in South Carolina are advised to do the Rainbow Falls trail first, so you can get most of the elevation out of the way while you’re fresh and full of energy. This strenuous hike is worth it because it pays off with magical waterfall views.
15. The Foothills Trail
Trailheads to Foothills Trail are located at both Table Rock State Park and Oconee State Park. The entire trail is 77 miles long and is a great opportunity for those hiking in South Carolina looking for a multi-day hike. Hikers in South Carolina can expect to spend five to 10 days on the trail.
Wrapping up the Best Trails for Hiking in South Carolina
Hiking in South Carolina is a true adventure. Hopefully, you’ve found your next hike! Remember to bookmark this page to refer to whenever you need to find a great trail for hiking in South Carolina.
Are you planning on camping in South Carolina too? Check out our post about the best camping spots in South Carolina.