Happy Wednesday, folks! We don’t know about you, but we’re already in the throes of planning out our camping trips for 2017. (This is in part due to how fast the state park camp sites fill up in North Carolina and South Carolina, and also because we have to submit vacation days off requests, work around school calendars, etc.).
We try to do a ton of research on sites like ReserveAmerica, TripAdvisor and the plain, ole Internet to try to find camp sites that are 1) within driving distance from us in Greenville, S.C., and 2) have good outdoor activities for us – be it hiking, swimming in the lake, kayaking, etc.
We thought we’d start a new series here on The Family Glampers to review the camp sites we visit to provide another resource for YOU as you’re planning your next trip. First up: Table Rock State Park in Pickens, S.C.
Table Rock State Park
158 Ellison Ln.
Pickens, S.C. 29671
Part of the South Carolina State Parks system, Table Rock State Park is a must-visit if you’re planning any kind of camping or hiking trips in the Upcountry of the state.
If you’re anywhere in the vicinity driving, you can usually spot “the rock” from miles away – it’s the bare rock formation sticking out amidst the surrounding mountains.
We tent camped at Table Rock State Park in April 2016. We reserved our site ahead of time online through the South Carolina Parks reservation form. (Making a reservation ahead of time is highly recommended as this is a popular camping site, especially in the spring, summer and fall seasons).
Upon arrival, we checked in at the camp store area just inside the gate, where we also purchased our firewood for the weekend. (There are advisements against bringing in your own firewood to help prevent the spread of disease in the forests).
We pulled in to Site #30 in the campground. It was about equidistant between two bath houses, and about in the middle of the loop we were in.
We had plenty of room to set up our 8-person tent. The campsite also had a picnic table and a fire pit with a grill top. We also had electric and water at the site.
Our site had a wooded view in the back – not really anything “scenic” in terms of being able to see the actual Table Rock from this position, though.
Luckily, we had good weather when we went (no more camping in the rain!). We did set up a pop up tent over the picnic area, though (we learned this the hard way after previously camping in the rain).
On Saturday, we set out early to tackle our hike to the top of Table Rock. This is a very strenuous 7.4 mile roundtrip hike to the top of the rock and back. We honestly weren’t sure if the boys (ages 7 and 9 at the time) were going to be able to make it. It’s a tough hike with a lot of steep inclines on the way up).
But we encouraged them they could do it, packed LOTS of snacks and plenty of water (take more water than you think you need if you’re going to attempt this hike!), and took many rest breaks along the way.
It’s a doozie of a hike to get up there…..but boy, oh boy, if you can make it, the view is absolutely breathtaking.
(Side note: if your crew isn’t quite up to making it all the way to the top, there’s a great overlook spot at about the halfway point. It’s not quite as satisfying as the view at the top, but for younger ones, it’s a good starting point!).
It took us most of the day to complete the hike (again, we took a lot of breaks and took our time). But it was so nice to just be able to drive about a mile back to our camp site when we were done and be able to just lay around the rest of the day and evening. (S’mores taste SO much better after you’ve hiked 7.4 miles, wouldn’t you agree??).
Our camp site neighbors were all super friendly – many families with kids. The camp sites are pretty close together, which is one drawback to this park. If you’re in the mood to get off the grid in a quiet camping spot, this is probably not the place for you. It can get a little crowded and noisy.
In addition to great hiking (there are several trails that start at the base of the park – including several shorter loops perfect for families with small children, or those just wanting a shorter, easier hike option), Table Rock State Park has a lake available in the summer months for swimming and paddle boating, a playground, picnic shelters and cabins for rent.
The South Carolina State Park Rangers also host a variety of different programs at the hiking trail base center – you can find maps, refreshments and learn more about different ranger-led hikes there. (We heard about a hike where rangers will lead you to the top of Table Rock for SUNRISE that happens twice a year……think you’d be up for that challenge?)
We would highly recommend Table Rock State Park for anyone looking for a quick weekend camping getaway with the kids. Hike to the top of the rock, take a swim in the lake, and eat as many s’mores as you can fit in your belly. It’s a great camping experience!
Table Rock State Park
Good for camping with kids: YES
Good for getting off the grid: NO
Easy to access: YES
Good amenities and outdoor activities: YES
Bathroom Conditions (scale of 1 – 10, with 1 being I would rather go in the woods and 10 being sparkling clean): 7
WiFi access: None in the park or camp site areas. There is some WiFi availability at the Table Rock general store.
Have you been to Table Rock State Park? What did you think about it? We’d love to share your comments so others planning their trips can benefit. Thank you!