Large family visits Table rock and Caesers head in Pickens South Carolina

Since moving to North Carolina, we have enjoyed visiting all of the natural wonders that are in this area.  From November until now, we have been out exploring almost every weekend because the weather has been so nice.  We just had our first major ice storm and it caused a shut down for the town.  I remember the jokes from people in the north that southerners don’t know how to drive in snow and ice and we would laugh along with them.  But what I have learned that it isn’t that they don’t know how to drive, it is that it is impossible to drive in.  The majority of the area is on an incline, which makes it impossible to drive on when ice hits.

My husband had the wonderful experience of “winter” weather when he came home from work the day of the storm and was trying to drive his car up the mountain.  He realized he wasn’t going to get up it as he was sliding back down and opted to park at the bottom of the mountain.  Now it is fun to walk up the mountain for exercise, when you feel like it, BUT after working all day and it is raining ice, you don’t look too forward to walking up it.  Thankfully it only lasted about a day and then the ice melted, but he has since learned that most people who live on mountains, park at the bottom if they know ice is coming.  Good fun.

We actually had our first snow storm today as well.  So winter has been about 2 weeks in the making and we are totally fine with that!!

We have explored as a family multiple areas around where we live and this is by far the most favorite of our family.  We came across an area in Pickens, South Carolina.  Yes the name definitely sounds back-woods- like and it is definitely that.  It is in the middle of nowhere and very secluded.  We came across a little community known as Pumpkintown.  Which hosts an opry, diner, and ice cream parlor.  That is about all we have found, along with the many people who sell boiled peanuts out of the back of their pick up trucks.  Haven’t tried them yet—probably won’t (smile) Definitely no health departments regulating that down here (smile).

Pickens is home to a beautiful state park known as Caesers head and Table Rock.

Caesers Head is an amazing place to visit.  It has huge panoramic views of the mountains and is breathtaking.  IMG_9189

We have been wanting to visit Chimney Rock here in our state but it costs a lot, I believe like $10 a person just to walk up it.  From what we have heard, it isn’t as great as stated and this compares to it just as well and it is FREE.IMG_9209

The day we went, the sky looked so clear from the valley and as we were driving up the mountain, you could see the cloud cover.  When we got to the top, it was semi clear—we literally went into the gift shop for about 5 minutes and came back and this whole area was engulfed by a cloud.  It was simply breathtaking, it looked as though you were looking out into heaven.  IMG_9215

You drive to the lookout area, and it has a small gift shop, hiking information area, restroom, and concession area.  You can walk out a few yards and see the lookout, very easy to access.  It is very child safe, as all of my little ones were climbing all over the rocks and enjoying the views.

IMG_20141228_155144I have a video included on this post of what we experienced and it shows the deep crevice we were able to walk down.  They have a place where the two sides of the mountain collide and it has a narrow passageway that you can walk down, on stairs.  This then takes you down around the front of the mountain.  It is very safe, all of my children descended upon this trail.  It brings you to a side view of the cliff you are looking out and you see what this mountain is named for “Caesers head.”  It to me resembles more of a monkey looking face, but from the front I am sure it is different (smile).    IMG_20141228_153701

Here they are enjoying some of the huge boulders in the look out area. IMG_20141228_154223

After we walked down, some of the clouds had cleared away and back up we went.  We were able to see the peaks of some of the other mountains in the distance.    IMG_20141228_154922

We have been back to this spot, multiple times and you never know what the weather will be like up there.  On the days we thought for sure it would be clear, it wasn’t.  One time we went and it was so windy, you didn’t even want to stand long up and look. IMG_20150117_131741

Another time it was clear and you could see for miles around.  Definitely a must see stop for anyone traveling through this area.     IMG_9229

You can then hop back in your car and drive down the mountain and stop at a few stops.  This was Bald Rock Mountain. Another beautiful place with great panoramic views . Again free and not that many people.IMG_20141228_170513 Then you can get back in your car and enjoy about a 30 minute drive to Table Rock State Park.  This was a paying park.  We paid $2 for adults and children 16 and under were free.  But worth the price to be able to go somewhere well kept up and much to do.  We have spent the entire day here and for $4 that it cost us, was worth it.

As you pull up, the parking lot is packed full, but most of these are all hikers, doing the massive trails.  For our family there was not many people where we were at.  The picture above is Brooklyn playing with a goose in the lake.  The area has a huge lake with canoes, kayaks, and pedal boats you can rent during the season.  it has a sandy beach area that we will definitely be trying out.  The other side of the lake, where we were at has fishing and lots of geese.  They are extremely friendly, be careful of your food, they will want it!

It has a nice play area for children.  One of the nicest that we have found down here at all.  In the video, I have it recorded.  IMG_20150125_160903

After picnicking and enjoying the water you can go for a hike.  This is the BEST areas to hike in with children.  We have been to many areas and most are pretty rugged and not so good for children.  But this  entire trail is all naturally paved out– but in a good child way.  Steps made out of boulders, roots, and some man made wood steps along the way help hiking to be easier.

IMG_20150208_153856You have many trails to try out.  They have a little office where you are to register at before you go hiking.  Just so they know who is left in the wild.  We do the Carrick Trail.  Simple and easy with little ones.  We would love to do the more intense ones to see the better views of Table Rock.  The mountain of Table rock was a place that the Indians named that because it looks like one of the gods could sit on the seat and use the top of the mountain as a table.  It is a beautiful view that you can see when you first pull into the park.  Again an amazing panoramic view.

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When we first started out on the Carrick Creek Trail, it takes about an hour to hike and my husband and I ended up carrying both of the youngest children.  But now they can walk the entire trail by them self with no carrying needed.  So much easier than carrying a 35 pound weight up the mountain(smile).IMG_20150125_162926

Here is Mady and me.  She holds my hand so we don’t fall.  We have been here during the winter when it has been wet.  I took a fall one time in mud.  But she claims she saved me from it being worse. She is my walking buddy. That day I noticed many young ladies, with mud down their leg—so it wasn’t just me (smile).IMG_20150125_163318

There is so many places to just stop and enjoy nature along this trail.  Here the girls were waiting by the flowing stream that runs through the entire trail.IMG_20150208_153239

You can literally walk right up to the water that is flowing.  It will be nice when it is hot in the summer and the water is ice cold.  It is just huge flat granite rocks, with water flowing on them.IMG_20150208_153409

There are many little waterfalls all along the trail.IMG_20150208_153435

Here the boys like to get their feet wet.  IMG_20150208_153536

Lots of trees to climb, and weird areas to discover.IMG_20150208_153718 Lots of natural beauty that you just want to stop at along the way and view. IMG_20150208_154426

Here Stephen has found his walking stick and walks proudly along the path.  Daddy and him are usually trailing up the back, because he likes to explore every little thing.IMG_20150208_154707

You have to cross the creek, stream, river–whatever it is called multiple times throughout your hike.  Some are over little man made bridges, some are laid out like here with rocks.  Either way, it is fun to hop across.IMG_20150208_160146 Here they were taking a break by some water. IMG_20150208_160249

Some of them starting getting pretty rocks out of the water.  They have many “sparkly” ones as my little ones like to say.IMG_20150208_160310

You could  literally sit here and just be with your thoughts all day long.  Oh wait, unless you have children in tow, forget that!IMG_20150208_160355

So peaceful and quiet.  IMG_20150208_161003

Lots of natural things just to explore.  Here was a big tree uprooted, the children enjoyed looking at it.IMG_20150208_161410

This was more of a straight away and then the children started running.IMG_20150208_161709

Brooklyn usually leads the pack and keeps us moving.IMG_20150208_161830

She is quickly followed by big brother Evan and little brother Jentzen.  Those children can run!!IMG_20150208_162554

Here Lauren was taking a break from hiking up the sides of the mountain, another peaceful spot.IMG_20150208_163450

When you come around the two mountains there is a big tree that fell in between them.  You can either walk around the corner or do as Lauren did and walk across on the fallen log.  This day, someone stopped and started recording her–probably in hopes that she was not going to make it for a funny youtube video (smile).  We chose to walk around.IMG_20150208_164148

Here is another fun stop along the way.  Just huge pieces of rock that make a nice little hiding place for you to sit under. IMG_20150208_165451Here is at the beginning of the trail, which is the end.  It has a nice sitting area where you can relax and enjoy the waterfall as you rehydrate or rest up after your hike.

For those that would like a video, here is one with a bunch of clips of our time at Caeser’s head and Table rock.

Just a couple of places to go for families who like to be together and for an inexpensive good time.

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