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Trailhead:  N 35 ° 1.91'
W 82 ° 41.98'
Total Elevation:  6579'
Trail Length:  7.1 miles
Hike Time:  5.5 hours
Hike Type:  Out-and-Back
Difficulty Rating:  202
Near:  Table Rock State Park
Note regarding hike time and elevation traversed.  

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Trip Report and Photos

Mark and I use to do a lot of hiking in Pennsylvania. But then he decided to move to South Carolina and our hiking days were over, or so I thought. During January of 2008 I took a road trip down to South Carolina to visit Mark and his family. During my stay there Mark had arranged a day hike for us. A little over seven miles long and an elevation climb of over 2000 feet, this was to be one of the more difficult day hikes that he and I ever did together. So on a sunny but chilly Sunday morning, we headed towards the northwestern corner of South Carolina and Table Rock State Park.

The trailhead for this hike is located within the State Park. Once you enter the park, simply follow the signs to the Nature Center. In South Carolina, unlike Pennsylvania, they charge a fee to just enter the park, so be aware of this if you have never visited or hiked in any state parks within the borders of South Carolina. You can find more information at the Table Rock State Park website. Detailed driving directions to the park, from the various Interstates, can be found on their website as well.

As I mentioned earlier, this hike was to be a little over seven miles in length. It is an out-and-back hike to the top of Table Rock. This was the most difficult day hike that Mark and I have done yet, mainly because of the large elevation change. This one ranks up there with the Golden Eagle Trail in Pennsylvania.

From the trailhead/parking are, we headed towards the Nature Center. There are restrooms here and from the deck located at the back of the building is where the hike begins. We crossed a small stream and signed in. You are required to register before doing this hike. It is a two part registration form and you put one copy in the register box before you start your hike and the second copy is dropped off on your way back.

About 200 feet past the trail register we caught our first glimpse of one of the many waterfalls found on the first part of the trail At 0.2 miles into our hike we crossed Green Creek on what looked to be a newly constructed bridge. To our left was another small waterfall.

At 0.4 miles we cross the stream again and began a slight steeper ascent. I did notice that the "soil" of South Carolina is composed of a red colored clay. We hike through a muddy, red section of the trail after our last stream crossing. This "red mud" would be one of the souvenirs that I would take back to PA with me.

Mark puts on his pack as we get ready for our hike to the top of Table Rock.

About 0.9 miles into the hike the trail began to snake back and forth as it made its way up the mountain side. I wouldn't call it a switch back as the turns in the trail were gradual, but you could see the trail crossing back and forth on the mountain above us. At this point we also started to notice snow laying on the ground from a snow storm the day before that dropped up to 2 inches of snow in some parts of the south.

The trail then made a sharp turn to the left at 1.3 miles. The climb became quite a bit steeper here. We did pass a small shelter with a nice view to the south at about 1.7 miles. We paused here for a moment but with the cold temperatures and a stiff wind coming in from the south, we soon started hiking again just to stay warm.

We reached the end of our first, steady ascent at 2.2 miles. Here the trail comes to a tee, with a branch heading to the left and Pinnacle Mountain, and a trail heading to the right and the top of Table Rock. Heading to the left would have allowed us to do a loop hike as opposed to an out-and-back hike, but we really wanted to experience the view from atop Table Rock.

Heading to the right, the snow became much more noticeable. In places there was probably about 2 inches of the white stuff off to either side of the trail and in places it even covered the trail making it slick in a few places. Aside for the snow covered trail, the next half mile of hiking was easy going and relatively flat.

At 2.7 miles into our hike we encountered the most difficult part of the trail. Not only did the trail become very steep and crossing smooth rock faces, but this section of the trail was in the shadow of the mountain and covered with ice. There were many places over the next tenth of a mile that Mark and I had a very difficult time even finding a path, on or off the trail, that was slick with ice. Finally, after about 15 minutes, we made it through the icy, steep section of the trail and emerged on sun basked Governor's Rock. This was a large flat rock outcropping. Unlike the rock outcroppings in Pennsylvania, this was very smooth. We paused here to enjoy the view and the sun on our faces. We had passed a few people on our way up the trail and here there were many more enjoying the warmth and view as well.

After Governor's Rock the trail was relatively flat again. We hike on for about another 0.4 miles when we came upon the summit of Table Rock. There is a sign posted here, indicating the elevation of Table Rock Summit. There were four other hikers at the summit when we arrived. We took a group photo of them and they in turn took a photo of Mark and I standing in front of the sign.

We finally reached our main destination of the hike at 3.5 miles. The trail comes right out on the top of the cliff with views for miles and miles to the south. Of course Mark and I took a lot of photos while we were here. We had a small snack and something to drink while we took in the view. We even had a small conversation with a woman from Sweden who made the climb behind, arriving at the vista the same time as us. The view made the climb well worth while, but we didn't hang out too long as the wind that we encountered at the shelter below was much stronger up here. Even with the sun shining brightly, we soon got rather cold. After putting on our gloves, jackets and hats that we shed during the climb up, we headed on down the trail.

The trail continued across the top of the mountain, on past the vista, to a second, eastward view. Mark and I hiked on down the trail for about another 0.2 miles before we decided that the view wasn't going to be all that impressive. We then turned around to start our hike back down to the bottom of the mountain.

The hike down was much easier than the hike up. Not only were we heading downhill, which is a lot easier (in most cases) then going uphill, but a lot of the snow had melted off of the trail. And the icy sections that we had trouble crossing an hour ago were now melted and clear of ice. We passed a number of people climbing up the mountain with almost everyone of them asking how the conditions were at the top. We informed them that the trail, though slick with ice earlier, was now clear.

Upon reaching the bottom of the mountain and the trail register we spent 5 minutes looking for the copy of the form that we filled out at the beginning of the hike. I thought the registration using two copies, one deposited at the start of the hike and one deposited at the end of the hike, was a neat idea. That is until we finished the hike and couldn't find our second copy. If you do this hike, make sure you put the second copy somewhere that won't fall out during the hike and that you'll remember its location when you reach the bottom.

Shortly after leaving the park we pulled the car off the side of the road to take a look back at the mountain that we just climbed. Even though the view from the top was impressive, and the hike quite enjoyable, you really don't appreciate Table Rock unless you are a distance. The yellow rock cliffs surrounded by the brown of the winter trees made for a breath taking site. I'm sure the view is just as amazing in the summer with the cliffs framed by the green of surrounding forest. Hopefully Mark will make it back up to Table Rock in the warmer months and take some pictures to send me.