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March 23rd, 2021
At long last, spring is here! Days are getting longer, the sound of birdsong fills the air, early wildflowers are once again in bloom, and showers leave waterfalls lush and flowing. It’s the perfect time of year to get outside and explore our region’s natural splendor. To help you do just that, we’ve compiled a list of some of the Upstate’s less traveled trails where you can take in some of spring’s best sights.
Trillium Trail, Nine Times Preserve
The Nature Conservancy’s Nine Times Preserve is the “wildflower showcase of the Southern Blue Ridge,” and this short (0.25-mile) trail offers spectacular views of trillium and other spring ephemerals along the Eastatoe Creek. If you’re seeking more of a challenge, two other trails are accessible in the Preserve, where you may see more of the 134 species of native wildflowers that bloom here, as well as black bear, peregrine falcons, and freshwater trout.
Nine Times Preserve
1750 East Preston McDaniel Road (Approximate address)
Pickens, SC 29671
Station Cove Falls Trail, Oconee Station State Historic Site
Another quick and easy hike will offer the best of both worlds: Waterfall and wildflowers. This 30-minute walk will take you to Station Cove Falls, a stepped 60-foot waterfall in Oconee County and you may see trillium, mayapple, pink lady’s slipper orchids, bloodroot, and redbud along the way.
Oconee Station State Historic Site
500 Oconee Station Road
Walhalla, SC 29691
Find additional information here at SouthCarolinaParks.com.
Natural Heritage Garden Trail, South Carolina Botanical Garden
The trails winding through the Natural Heritage Garden in Clemson’s South Carolina Botanical Garden offer an exhilarating experience — here you can traverse 11 unique ecosystems found within the state, all within yards of each other. In early spring, you can find the rare Oconee bells, flame azaleas, and trillium blooming in the Cove Forest. Farther along the trail, in the Basic Mesic Forest, you can find the captivating Dutchman’s breeches.
South Carolina Botanical Garden
150 Discovery Lane
Clemson, SC 29634
Find additional information here on the SC Botanical Garden website.
Chau Ram County Park
The whole family can enjoy the falls at Chau Ram County Park in Westminster. A 40-foot waterfall cascading over large boulders as the Ramsey Creek flows into the Chauga River is handicap accessible, and there are five more waterfalls accessible by crossing the 175-foot pedestrian suspension bridge over the Chauga River and various hiking trails within the park.
There’s more recreation to come to Chau Ram County Park, too. In 2019, the size of the park more than doubled thanks to a grant from the South Carolina Conservation Bank to Naturaland Trust and a $230,000 investment from Oconee County. The property will be protected in perpetuity by a conservation easement held by Upstate Forever. Read more here
Chau Ram County Park
1220 Chau Ram Park Road
Westminster, SC 29693
Find additional information here at ExperienceOconee.com.
Above photo by Mac Stone
Wattacoo Lake Loop, Ashmore Heritage Preserve
If you time your visit just right, the Ashmore Heritage Preserve Trail in northern Greenville County delivers a great reward in late spring: a sighting of the carnivorous Mountain Sweet Pitcherplant. This 1.5-mile trail is easily accessible off Cherokee Foothills Scenic Highway 11 and you may spot other rare plants and wildlife, including orchids, sundew (another carnivorous plant), and various ferns.
Ashmore Heritage Preserve
45 Persimmon Ridge Road
Cleveland, SC 29635
As you embark on these spring treks, remember to bring plenty of water and sunscreen and leave no trace. Especially when viewing delicate and endangered plants, please tread lightly and respect the plants and habitats. Happy trails!