Looking Back, Moving Forward Part Four- The Top 10

Message From The Director

When I started with the list of my 100 favorite things to see and do in South Carolina State Parks, it brought back great memories of special places.  It was a journey through 37 summers in state parks, a trek through time filled with special places and great memories. You can catch up on the previous things to see and do I covered here, here and here.

The top ten got here fast; a reminder that time waits for no one. A reminder to focus on the journey, not the destination. A reminder that joy is found not in finishing an activity, but in doing it. What a joy the last 37 summers have been.  Some of you who know me best may be surprised at the impact South Carolina’s coast has had on a boy from the mountains, as quite a few coastal spots have made it into my top ten. There is no denying the beauty and magic of the coast. So, the top ten… here we go!

10. The marsh boardwalk at Edisto Beach. I never miss a chance to walk the boardwalk, take time to feel the marsh- its smells and sounds. It is where life comes from. 

9. The bridge at Jones Gap over the Middle Saluda River. It’s one of the most photographed spots in state parks. The white water, sounds and timeless features. It’s a powerful place and not just because of the water flow. 

8. The Caesars Head overlook. People would hike miles to get a view like this one! Amazingly, it’s only a few feet from the parking lot. The view of the back of Table Rock Mountain and the dismal is magical. Listen and you will hear the distant sounds of Raven Cliff Falls. 

7. The Huntington Beach causeway. There is so much going on! The marsh, the pond, sunsets. It’s a birder’s and photographer’s paradise. I have spent hours taking pictures of birds, alligators and the brilliant greens of the marsh grass.

6. The historic Poinsett spillway. As you walk from the lake and follow the historic canal of water to the spillway, be sure to go below the spillway and take in the view. The stair steps built by the Civilian Conservation Corps provide a unique perspective of falling water, perfectly fit for the mountains in the midlands. 

5. The Myrtle Beach pier at sunrise. Sunrises are amazing over the Atlantic, and it’s not often that a man-made structure can add to it, but the pier does just that. No words needed to explain its beauty; my guess is you just visualized it. 

4. Visiting the boneyard at Hunting Island. Originally, my favorite thing to do was take in a sunrise at the boneyard, until I experienced a full moonrise. Make no mistake; the sunrise is special, mystical and magical. However, a walk through the boneyard at night during a full moon? Wow. 

3. Coming back home to the mountains, the easy walk to the Carrick Creek Falls area of the Table Rock Trail. The falls are beautiful, but there is a lot going on at this spot. Geology students come from all over to see the “folds” in the rock, and the stair steps just above the falls are a water feature only the Creator could make. 

2. The hardest to see and experience of my top ten: the overlook atop Table Rock Mountain. An amazing view, especially at sunrise. The view of the reservoir, Caesars Head and the stool- breathtaking. More spectacular than the views is the feeling. Getting there is no “walk in the park,” but once you are there you feel the presence of this special place. It’s a spiritual place for me. Sitting atop the massive granite, I am connected. I’m home. 

And my favorite spot, well, it’s a journey, more than a single place. My number one spot: the trail to Rainbow Falls at Jones Gap. Not only the falls, but the journey; the trail that gets you there. The hike takes you up the Jones Gap Trail, past lots of eye and ear candy: white water, ancient granite rocks aged with time, sounds of the river as you stand beneath the Eastern Continental Divide. You are in the Gap, walking through time with friends and loved ones. The trail is special, as some of my best memories have been made there. Family hikes where my wife, daughter and daughter in law “played twister” on the trail to avoid the mud and high water of a recent mountain rain. The boys laughed and took pictures we later had to pledge never to share. Memories of the traditional Father’s Day hike with my children and the day time stood still as I watched them sit under the falls, a memory that is carved deep in my heart.  Then there are the falls. Falling water off the high cliff, the drop in temperature- tonic for the soul. 

That’s my top ten. Oh, I’m sure my list will change as opportunities will offer new memories and experiences in your state parks. I’ve been to these places countless times over the last 37 summers while visiting state parks but they still remain places of wonder and discovery. Thinking back on the list, I think I may have left a few places off. Maybe I should revisit just to be sure! For me it’s a summer to remember, time to visit one of the 47.

See you in the parks!