The SC Project: Kid Friendly Hiking in Greenville

We had a free morning and the kids have been begging me to take them hiking. The last few times I’ve gone out, they’ve really wanted to go and I had to give them the stinging answer, “This one’s just for daddy. It’ll be too hard for kids.” Stinging for both sides.
I’m fortunate to live less than 10 minutes from the entrance to Paris Mountain State Park in Greenville, SC. I was surprised to see that rates have gone up as of May 24th, 2014. $5 for adults and $3 for kids. I didn’t notice the age limit, as I had bought an inland park pass last year so we weren’t stopped long.
I’ve taken both of my kids on the Lake Placid loop a few times, and I didn’t really want to it again, at least not it alone. I didn’t think I could haul both Emma and Link along the Brissy Ridge Loop, as it’s rated one of the more difficult more loops in the park. Looking at the map, I was able to expand the Lake Placid loop with connecting the Mountain Creek Trail to a connector to the Turtle Trail and back to the parking lot.
We started around the dam side of the lake. There’s an artificial waterfall with a footbridge that’s fun for the kids. It’s a little rocky and rooty down there, but nothing too extreme. Both my kids loves waterfalls! Emma had brought a self-made sketchbook and her pencils, and she stopped to sketch the waterfall. Daddy’s heart melts for his little girl. Link and I walked around a little and found an eastern Kingsnake catching some sun before it slithered back under its rock. 
The trail beyond the lake is nice and shaded, offering plenty of opportunities to get close to the lake. There are a few downed trees that have roots sticking up out of the ground and the trunk is out in the water, eventually submerging. The kids loved to climb over these! Along this section we saw a huge dragonfly, a red-eared sliding turtle sunbathing on a log, and I caught a quick glimpse of a five-lined skink before it disappeared. 
We crossed the boardwalk and kept going on the Mountain Creek Trail, which meanders alongside the Mountain Creek (hence the name). We took a break at the Music in the Woods Ampitheather for a rest and a snack. As I’ve taken my kids out on hikes, I’ve learned that they need more than just the hike. They like additional fun things to do like at the Ampitheater they got to run around the seats and put on a show of their own, and have a granola bar or fruit snacks to keep their energy and spirits up. 
We took a turn on the connector to the Turtle Trail (which is clearly marked for either direction), and there was a little steepness here but nothing my kids couldn’t do. 
Walking back on the Turtle Trail, we had to step aside for a mountain biker. We saw a few really bright blue dragonflies, as well. We came out at the Park Center, and checked out the displays inside. There’s a really cool scale model of Paris Mountain that shows the park boundaries, lakes, and how the watershed works. There are also some other fun exhibits like what kind of creatures might be in the water, and identification books for flora and fauna of the park. 
One thing I really wanted to call out attention to is the bike maintenance racks they have in the park. I know I’ve seen one at the top of the mountain, too, near the overflow parking at Brissy Ridge. Pretty cool catering to mountain bikers!
And because they like more than just the hike, we stopped at the playground before heading back to the car.
I let Emma carry my GPS on this trip, but for some reason it said we had hiked around 5.75 miles. That’s not even close to accurate. I don’t know what happened with it, but I calibrated it once I got home so we’ll see what happens next hike. At my estimation, the loop hike we did was somewhere around 2.3miles. I did carry Link for the last little bit after we were about halfway through the Turtle Trail, but he had gone well to his limit already. General rule of thumb that I have heard for taking kids hiking is 1/2mile for every year of their age.
A great day at Paris Mountain discovering the wonders of God’s creation with my kids. I can’t wait to take them out more.

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