Spartanburg is the perfect beginning for outdoor activities and adventure. The great outdoors isn’t just a way a life, it’s crucial to local business.

Whether you’re here for the weekend or for the duration… a list of places to go and things to do to enjoy the mountains and rivers of the Upstate South Carolina/Western North Carolina area. If you know of a swimming hole or a trail we’ve missed, send a note to [email protected].

Hollywild Animal Park
Hollywild Animal Park is located near Inman in Spartanburg County, South Carolina, one of the most scenic and culturally diverse areas of South Carolina’s Upcountry. Nestled on over 100 acres, Hollywild is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization committed to providing an interactive and enlightening experience for our visitors as we continually improve the lives of our animals in an enriching and respectful environment.

Keeping it simple. If you’re seeking an outdoor adventure, look no further. The Upstate/WNC area is surrounded by natural beauty and numerous opportunities for enjoying the outdoors.

Hiking in the Great Smoky Mountains… more details at, the most comprehensive site on the web for information on Great Smoky Mountains Trails.

Here are some safe places to start your outdoor adventures:

Chattooga National Wild and Scenic River
Born high in the Carolina mountains and dropping an average of 49.3 feet per mile in its race past the stately woods of Sumter National Forest, for 40 miles this tumultuous (and sometimes disarmingly placid) mountain river separates South Carolina and Georgia. The Chattooga became a sort of national quest after its starring role in the movie “Deliverance.” For guided raft tours, contact Wildwater Ltd. at 800-451-9972 or 864-647-9587.

Blue Heron Whitewater
Closest whitewater rafting to Asheville, 22 miles NW, on the French Broad River. Choose the trip that fits your group and schedule. Half Day Trips enjoy five miles of beautiful scenery, fun class II-III rapids. Add three miles and a class IV rapid for the Full Day Trip. Minimum age is 8. Families with kids as young as 4 enjoy the calm water Float Trip. Locally owned and operated, small company big on details! Call 888-426-7238 for additional information.

Jones Gap State Park
Picnicking and trailside camping in one of South Carolina’s most pristine wilderness areas in the Upcountry can be enjoyed at this 3,346-acre park in Greenville County. Located in the 10,000-acre Mountain Bridge Wilderness and Recreation Area, this park encompasses the Middle Saluda River, designated the state’s first scenic river. In addition, the park is an access point to the Foothills Hiking Trail.

Palmetto Trail
Not yet completed, this trail will eventually link the Blue Ridge Mountains to the Atlantic Ocean. Several passages are currently open in Santee Cooper Country. For more information, contact the Palmetto Conservation Foundation at 803-771-0870.

Sumter National Forest
This woodland covers over 118,000 acres and provides hiking and biking trails, recreation areas, and a peaceful environment to enjoy wildlife and green spaces. For more information about this area, call the National Forest Service at 803-561-4000.

If none of these destinations is quite what you’re looking for, try the South Carolina State Trails Program. They have a great directory of the green spaces throughout South Carolina.

Bicycling: Road and Mountain
Bent Creek Recreational Area
If you’re looking for a fun ride in the forest not too far from home, the Bent Creek area just south of Asheville, NC offers a number of rides on gravel roads and single tracks.

Blue Wall Passage of the Palmetto Trail
From either the Blue Wall Preserve or the Foothills Equestrian Nature Center (FENCE), you will find this scenic section of the Palmetto Trail offers a lot of diversity. You will pass from old forest to the city streets of downtown Landrum in Spartanburg County. As you wander over rolling hills, you will be treated to some beautiful views of mountains, clear ponds, and some of South Carolina’s finest horse farms. Although this trail is listed as hiking and mountain biking, it has sections that are not for the mountain bike enthusiast, because they are on streets or sidewalks.

Croft State Natural Area
Starting from the parking area, this somewhat challenging trail in Spartanburg County has something for just about everyone. There is enough climbing, fast down hills, and hard packed sections, which allow fairly high speeds to satisfy the intermediates and experts, but may be too much for beginners. Several connector trails provide variation and new challenges, especially the Idaho pass, which is more technical.

Tsali Recreation Area by Asheville local Tom Livingston.
World famous single-track trails along Lake Fontana’s shores. (Advanced.)

Upstate Mountain Bikers Association
The mission of the UMBA is to provide an organization to work with local land managers to build and maintain a network of trails to improve the mountain biking experience of its membership. Maps, trail status reports, and event calendars are available on the website.

Lakes & Rivers

Fish Tales Guide Service
A guide service for striper and hybrid on Lake Hartwell. Group packages and lodging available.

Lake Bowen
Lake Bowen is located near the city of New Prospect in Spartanburg County and impounds the South Pacolet River. There is a boat ramp located on SC 9. Lake Bowen also has a public fishing pier. (Because Lake Bowen is a water system lake certain rules apply.)

Lake Hartwell
Located at the base of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Anderson County, SC, this lake covers 56,000 acres and offers fishing and water sports.

Lake Lure
Lake Lure, NC is located in Rutherford County and tucked among the Blue Ridge Mountains. A very short trip from Chimney Rock Park, the lake is on Highway 64/74A, approximately an hour’s drive from Spartanburg. Directions are available on the website.

Lake Lyman and Lake Cooley
These two Spartanburg County lakes provide a variety of lodging and boating resources.

Lawson’s Fork Creek
Spartanburg’s Lawson’s Fork is now accessible to paddlers who want to put in at Whitney and float to the Cottonwood Trail, a distance of 4.5 river miles. Work has been completed on the “put-in” just below the dam, along U.S. Highway 221.

Rock Climbing and Mountaineering

Upstate South Carolina and WNC has long been a destination for climbers and mountaineers of all abilities. Located near the southern terminus of the Appalachians, this area features some of the most impressive mountains on the Eastern seaboard, including Mt. Mitchell, with the highest summit this side of the Rockies. From rugged winter ascents of 6000-foot snow-capped mountains to the water-marked faces of the famous granite domes, the Upstate offers a multitude of options for the climber to explore and consider.

Chimney Rock Park
Have you ever wanted to go rock climbing or rappelling but have been hesitant to try? Why not sign up for a 2-hour climbing clinic or a half or full-day training session with a certified instructor and take on the cliffs overlooking Hickory Nut Gorge. We’ve partnered with the Southeast’s only AMGA accredited guide service, Fox Mountain Guides, to offer you a climbing experience you won’t soon forget. Guided climbing opportunities are available for the beginners to advanced climbers. No experience is necessary, though, and we provide all the equipment. Reservations are required. The Park, located 60 miles north of Spartanburg, is open all year. Live it up! 800-277-9611 800-277-9611

5.9+ FA Chris Little, Clarence Hickman & Mark Pell Dinkus Dog. 5.10 First Ascent by Jeep Gaskin & Jeff Burton, 1979.

Cornflake Crack
Ee-Gads! 5.11 FA Art Williams & Mike Holloway, 1972; FFA Henry Barber & Ric Hatch, 1976

Information on other outdoor organizations and activities:

Adventure Carolinas works to promote the growth and development of adventure sports in the Carolinas. The website is a hub for all adventurers to share information, tales of adventure, photos, training plans and events.

Appalachian Trail Conference

Appalachian Trailplace

The Blue Ridge Parkway

Blue Ridge Bicycle Club

Electric City Cycling Club, based in Anderson, SC, is a mostly touring, partly racing club which also includes a sizeable mountain biking population. We have over 200 members from all over Upstate (Northwest) South Carolina.

Elisha Mitchell Audubon Society
Freewheelers of Spartanburg Bicycle Club have their regular Club meetings on the first Monday of each month. Visit the website for more information on meetings and events.

The Cherokee Mudslingers ATV Club is a member run club dedicated to safe, fun and ethical ATV riding. The club was formed in July of 1998 when landowners stopped OHVs from riding at the sandbar located in Gaffney, SC on the Broad River. The club headquarters are located in Gaffney, SC.

Out There
Palmetto Conversation Foundation is a nonprofit membership organization that conserves South Carolina’s natural resources, preserves historic landmarks, and promotes outdoor recreation and active living.

Pisgah National Forest
Spartanburg Running Club is open to anyone interested in running. For information call 864-591-4261 or visit the website.

Palmetto Conversation Foundation is a nonprofit membership organization that conserves South Carolina’s natural resources, preserves historic landmarks, and promotes outdoor recreation and active living.
Pisgah National Forest
Spartanburg Running Club is open to anyone interested in running. For information call 864-591-4261 or visit the website.