Putting the ‘Green’ in Greenville: Exploring the Natural Wonders of the Upstate
By: Whit Buchanan
Whether it’s hiking, camping, or sightseeing, there is no lack of abundance of outdoor adventures around Furman. There are many great opportunities ranging from 5 minutes off campus to a 45-minute drive up into North Carolina.
One spot that is always at the top of my list to visit is Paris Mountain State Park. Located just 5 minutes off of Furman’s campus, Paris Mountain shadows over Furman and can be seen from nearly every part of campus. From a scenic overlook of Furman and Greenville, to hiking trails down to beautiful lakes, Paris Mountain has much to offer for the common outdoor enthusiast. Personally, I find the Sulphur Springs trail to be the most enjoyable hiking trail within Paris Mountain. The 3.5-mile trail passes through the second highest peak in the park and ends at a scenic mountain lake. While difficult, this trail is highly rewarding.
Another great option that is significantly easier to access is Bald Rock Heritage Preserve. Located about 25 minutes off campus, this is a great option for those who don’t want to go through a strenuous hike for a scenic view. To access Bald Rock, one simply needs to park their car in the parking lot and walk about 500 feet out onto the cliff face. Bald Rock is a popular location for watching the sunrise over the valley of which it overlooks. It is also a fantastic location for group photos!
Finally, the furthest location on this list, is the Blue Ridge Mountains. The Blue Ridge Mountains are located in the Eastern half of North Carolina. Depending on your destination, your journey can range from 45 minutes off campus to upwards of 2 hours. Two personal recommendations within this area are Table Rock and the Frying Pan Mountain Outlook Tower. Table Rock is an absolutely stunning piece of mountain topography. On the other hand, the Outlook Tower on Frying Pan Mountain is an old fire tower which visitors can climb up and have a breath-taking overlook of the Blue Ridge Mountain Chain. Even if you are not sure of your destination, driving along Blue Ridge Parkway will garner awesome views and present many trail heads along the way. However, be warned! Due to the high altitudes of the area, many portions of Blue Ridge Parkway can ice-over in the winter months and cause closures of the road, so plan accordingly.
Regardless of where you go, there are numerous opportunities to explore the outdoors of the Carolinas. This is by no means a comprehensive list, as there are so many great spots to mention. I highly encourage you to do some research of popular spots within the area. You may even be able to find your own personal paradise!