South Carolina’s hiking trails invite us to connect with nature. Many of us seek it out almost instinctively to ease our minds and escape the daily grind of urban life. Hiking, biking, and even walking– the art of simply travelling from one place to another– is one of the most simple and enjoyable ways to get ourselves out there. Over 250 miles of trails wind through South Carolina’s Old 96 District, with striking views and historic landmarks aplenty. With so much ground covered, a trail exists for every type of mover. Here, we’ve compiled a list of “Best Of’s” for every occasion, whether your perfect hike is a tough mountain climb or an easy family outing.
Lakeview Trail-Hickory Knob State Resort Park
Length: 6.7 Miles
This is a trail optimized for mountain bikes, but for those who are up to the challenge the reward is oh so sweet. From promontories on the hillsides, experience panoramic views of Lake Thurmond. Because Hickory Knob is the only resort State Park in South Carolina, there’s plenty of places right nearby to crash for the night.
Lake Rabon Park
Length: 2.5 miles round trip
This hike has lots of outdoor activities nearby, including a boat ramp and fishing pier. Eat in a picnic shelter or on the grass by the lake, and take advantage of everything the lake has to offer to make your picnic your own!
Best for Endurance Training
Forks Area Trail System (FATS)
Length: 34 miles total (made up of different loops)
A short trail introduces the terrain of the FATS before splitting into different loops, each a different length ranging from 4 to nearly 7 miles, or 34 miles total. Hikers can pick which loops they feel most equipped for, adding distance as their endurance grows. This system makes it easy to build your chops without having to find several different hiking trails.
Best for Newbies
Beaver Run Trail-Hickory Knob State Resort Park
Length: 2.5 Miles
This trail is great starter trail. It’s long enough to feel satisfied but not too long for a beginner. The trail dips down to the edge of Lake Thurmond and enters a floodplain forest, with a variety of plant life to entice those still learning the local flora.
Best for Families
Cherokee Path- Ninety Six National Historic Site
Length: 1.5 Miles
The Cherokee Trail at the Ninety Six National Historic Site is more than just a hiking trail. It is the site of a very important Revolutionary War battle at the once-proud Star Fort. The trail–once a direct path for traders and travelers– now weaves through these landmarks. Younger hikers can explore as they go and get up close with history, keeping them engaged through the entire hike.
Best for Dog Lovers
Parson’s Mountain Recreation Area
Length: 4 Mile Loop
While many of Old 96 District’s trails allow pets, not all of our trails have an 800-foot summit and a loop around Parson’s Mountain Lake. Visitors wanting a tougher hike can take a branch of the trail passing by Civil War-era gold mines on the way to the summit. Mix all of this together, and you get a flora-packed trail with several great places for your dog to explore! (And let’s face it, a picture of your best friend with that kind of view in the background might just win the internet.)
Best Town Trail
Ten Governors Rail Trail
Length: 1 mile linear, 2 miles round trip
Starting with a boardwalk over Slade Lake, the Ten Governors trail invites visitors to wander past historic homes and monuments to each of the ten SC governors that hail from Edgefield county.
Best for Plant Lovers
Stevens Creek Heritage Preserve
Length: 1.9 mile loop
A companion to a much longer and more difficult hiking trail, the Stevens Creek Heritage Preserve is home to fifteen rare and several endangered flowers and plants. The area’s unique bedrock makes it one of only two places on Earth (the other being the Florida panhandle) the Miccosukee Gooseberry grows natively.
Best Mini Getaway
Length: .9 miles one-way
Just under two miles round trip, Rock Creek winds through the suburbs of Greenwood while still feeling like real nature. Follow the small creek through a mini escape, and when you’re finished, Uptown Greenwood is only a short drive away.
Best Historic Trail
Battlefield Trail- Musgrove Mill State Historic Site
Length: 1.5 miles one-way
This trail begins at an ADA boardwalk and leads to an overlook at Horseshoe Falls. Wander alongside a Revolutionary War battlefield, with interpretive waysides sharing the story of the 1780 Battle of Musgrove Mill. If you want even more history for your fix, the British Camp Trail is another good trail.
Of course, there are many more trails in Old 96 District to pick from. Check out our printable brochure for a more complete list of trails, as well as nearby campsites and lodging.