Hiking Table Rock...Again!

As it rises up out of the red clay of the upstate, a mountain dotted with trees that frame a granite “face” seems to greet those who journey to the South Carolina mountains.

The Blue Ridge Escarpment, often referred to as “The Blue Wall,” is made up of mountains reaching 3,124 feet above sea level. These ancient mountains are covered with trees that on a crisp early morning have a blue tint to them, inspiring their unique name. This distinct landscape makes up less than two percent of our states topography. At the center of the escarpment is Table Rock Mountain. As one of our state’s most recognizable landmarks, Table Rock stands out and demands your attention.

Table Rock’s iconic granite face and the mountain itself have always had a bit of magic to it. From the days of the Cherokee, where they believed that the “great spirit” would sit on The Stool and dine off the “table rock;” to the era of the Civilian Conservation Corps, members of which knew a trail to the top would inspire visitors; to the generations who have called the area home and felt comfort looking up at the mountain, visitors and residents alike have come to know the magic of Table Rock.

I hike the mountain several times every year, and each time I go up someone will ask… “Why do you hike to the top of Table Rock each year… didn’t you just hike it?” The answer is a simple one: I need to. The mountain is a special place for me. I hike Table Rock for several reasons, the first being to challenge myself physically, as it’s not an easy hike, especially the older I get! I also hike the mountain to experience its beauty. As many times as I have hiked to the top, I always find something new, see something I didn’t see on the last trek, or photograph something I have never photographed before.

Each season brings its own unique experience. Whether it’s the emerging wildflowers of spring and the sudden greening of the mountain, or the heat of the summer when you find yourself hiking in the clouds after a summer rain shower, Table Rock never fails to provide a rewarding hike. I recently hiked the mountain and was amazed at the wildflowers, the beauty of falling water and the cascade of falling leaves, as the season’s colors seem to move down the mountain just like tumbling water I observed on the hike up.

There is never a bad time to hike the mountain. One of my favorite experiences is a sunrise hike. You hike all night to reach the top of the mountain just in time to catch the moon and the stars slowly start to disappear as the sunrise paints the sky with colors only nature can provide. Making it to the top and being able to sit on the rock overlooking Caesars Head is a most rewarding experience.

If you’re not ready for the Table Rock hike, I understand, as it can be very strenuous and difficult, but I encourage you to find your “mountain” to hike. How about the trail to Rainbow Falls, or the Edisto Beach trail that takes you across the salt marsh, or the “hike” to the top of the Hunting Island Lighthouse, the loop around the lake at Sesquicentennial, and the walk from the dam to the bridge at Barnwell, admiring the handiwork of the CCC spillway. Your “mountain” awaits you.
There are many great reasons to hike, but for me it’s more than just the views and the beauty. It’s tonic for the soul. A place to recharge the batteries, a place to connect with old friends and new ones, and a place to reflect and be thankful.
It’s time to hike Table Rock… yes … again.


See you in the parks!

Phil