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.
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.
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.
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.
I 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).
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.
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. 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!
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.
You 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.
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).
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).
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. Here they were taking a break by some water.
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.
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. Here 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.