Saturday, April 7, 2012

Table Rock State Park, SC

Table Rock State Park
Pickens County, SC
Good Friday, April 6th, 2012

Good Friday is one of those few Holidays that Amy has to work and I get the day off.   The plan for my day off was to spend the day hiking!  Unfortunately, none of my regular hiking buddies were able to join me.  It turns out that even the US Postal Service works on Good Friday!

When hiking solo, I like to stick with trails that I am familiar with.  My plan was to hike Table Rock,  my favorite mountain in South Carolina.  I've hiked the Table Rock Trail about a dozen times, but I never seem to get tired of it.

Waking up to heavy rain I originally thought the weather would thwart my plans.  Fortunately a quick radar check showed the storms were clearing out.  The heavy rain was reduced to a light drizzle and by the time I arrived at the Table Rock Visitor's center just a few misty clouds and a nice overcast sky remained.

The Table Rock Visitor's Center

I made a few photo stops to check out some scenic spots before arriving at the trailhead.

 A Fisherman and his Dog

 Table Rock Mountain  The Mountain Laurel is just about to pop!

The Table Rock trail begins by following Carrick Creek upstream.  Almost immediately I arrived at Carrick Creek Falls, a small but scenic waterfall.  Many times I pass this one by without a second look, but the morning photo conditions were perfect so I shed my pack and pulled out the tri-pod.

 Carrick Creek Falls

Just upstream is another nice series of cascades where Green Creek merges into Carrick Creek.  Again I just had to stop to take advantage of the perfect waterfall photography conditions.

Cascades along Carrick Creek

From here the Carrick Creek/Pinnacle Mountain Trail heads west up Carrick Creek, but I stuck to the Table Rock Trail which heads north up Green Creek.

On past hikes I had noticed some pretty good drops along Green Creek, but since it is a fairly low volume creek they never seemed to be worth the effort to try and get a closer look.  However, the area got at least 2-inches of rain over the past 24-hours and the small creek was flowing stronger than I have ever seen it.

Normally I don't do a whole lot of off trail exploring when hiking alone, but this is close enough to the main trail that it would not be much of a risk.  So I left the trail and scrambled down the steep bank downstream from the main drop.

Compared to the unseasonably warm weather we have been having, it was a bit chilly this morning.  I still had my zip of pant legs on which was a good thing because there was quite a bit of poison ivy growing along the banks of Green Creek.

Since I still had 7 miles of hiking ahead, I wasn't willing to get my boots wet which made working my way up the creek to the base of the waterfall a bit of a challenge.  However, it was well worth the effort.

Waterfall on Green Creek

During times of good flow, this waterfall is well worth the steep scramble and short bushwhack!

 Me by the Waterfall on Green Creek

I made my way back up to the main trail and continued on.  Almost immediately upstream I spotted another good drop through the trees, so I decided to check it out as well!

Upper Waterfall on Green Creek

From there, the main trail leaves Green Creek and continues to climb up Table Rock Mountain, which would be my main cardio work out for the day.   The huge boulders are the most interesting feature along this stretch of trail.
 One of many huge boulders along the trail

I made it to the Panther Gap trail shelter to check out the views and take a short break before continuing on.

The Panther Gap Trail Shelter

View from the Panther Gap Trail Shelter

After a short climb, I arrived at the Ridge Trail/Table Rock Trail junction.  I continued east on the Table Rock Trail. 

Here the trail levels out for a while which is always a nice break after the long climb.  However that break doesn't last long as the steepest section of trail up towards Governor's Rock lies ahead!

Climbing up Governor's Rock
I took another short break at Governor's Rock to snap a few photos before heading on.

 View from Governor's Rock

Another relatively level section of trail follows before the final climb up to the summit of Table Rock Mountain.  The views from the actual summit are not all that impressive.  Fortunately the highlights are still ahead!

 The Table Rock Summit

A moderate descent takes you  to one of many awesome viewpoints!  The trail continues on across an open rock face.  Blazes painted on the rocks lead to way to the end of the trail and the best view.

 View from Table Rock

Here Table Rock sits perched almost 1800-feet above the Table Rock Reservoir offering the perfect spot for my main break of the day.  Despite a good number of other hikers I encountered along the trail, I had this spot to myself for a good 15 minutes to soak up the views and a little bit of sunshine.

 View from the End of the Table Rock Trail

In addition to the Table Rock Reservoir, this spot also offers the best legal view of Slicking Falls.  This waterfall flows down Buzzard Mountain into the Table Rock Reservoir.  Unfortunately Slicking Falls is located right smack in the middle of the Greenville Watershed which is strictly off limits to the public.

Distant view of Slicking Falls

After a nice break, I leisurely made my way back checking out several other viewpoints along the way.

View from Table Rock

I decided to add a little distance to the end of my hike, so I added in the Carrick Creek loop in hopes of finding some wildflowers.  I was only able to find one lone trillium.


However, I did spot a pretty Dogwood Tree in full bloom above a nice little cascade on Carrick Creek.  I was close enough to the end of my hike that I didn't mind wet feet, so I hopped in the creek for a better vantage point.

Unfortunately the morning cloud cover had completely moved away and the bright sun gave way too much contrast to the scene.

Dogwood Blooms above a cascade on Carrick Creek

On the last stretch of trail, I stopped to photograph an interesting looking wildflower and heard something rustling through the weeds.  My first snake sighting of the season.  At first I thought it might have been a Copperhead, so I kept my distance.  But upon further review, I think it is just a harmless Northern Water Snake.

First Snake sighting of the Season

Interesting Bloom I was photographing when I spotted the snake

It was still early enough when I finished up so I decided to check out the newest trail in the Table Rock Trail System.  The Pinnacle Lake Trail was just completed about a month ago.  There have always been unmaintained trails and fisherman's paths along sections of the lake, but they were never maintained by the park.

Now an official trail allows you to completely circle the lake with ease.  I never found anything which listed the distance of this trail, but based on how long it took I would estimate it to be about 2 miles.  

Table Rock Mountain above Pinnacle Lake

The south end of the loop takes you downstream from the man made dam.  I took a very unimpressive snapshot just to show what this looks like.  Under better lighting and with a willingness to get in the creek for a better vantage point, this could make for an interesting photo spot.

Man Made Dam/Waterfall at the South end of Pinnacle Lake

It was a perfect day for a hike and definitely a "Good Friday" 

The complete set of photos is posted here:


Adam said...

My brother actually went there the other day. Nice photos. I hope to go someday as well.

K1YPP said...

Nice photos Jack. I'm jealous, we just don't have mountains like that here in Florida, in fact, we don't have any. I was in Table Rock 38 years ago, will have to return again! Loved swimming in the lake.
Dennis, K1
AT 07/08

Brenda W. said...

Great shot of Slicking Falls, Jack. Those are so hard to get a good photo of. And lots more water flow there as well!

And, nice to know about the trail around Pinnacle Lake!

HemlockMan said...

WOW! That waterfall on Green Creek is a great one! I must have passed that one half a dozen times without ever noticing it!

Nice photo of the snake, too.

I can't believe the mountain laurel is getting ready to bloom! Well, we didn't have a winter this year. It's to be expected, I reckon.