So you’re new to adventuring? You don’t want to start too hard, which is fine. No sense in getting yourself in a situation where you’re in over your head, wading through brambles, miles from civilization… although some adventurers strive for that.
If you’re new to the outdoors, you don’t even need a pair of hiking boots to appreciate the outdoors. God has created some magnificent scenery, and there is a great way to see it without ever having to leave your car.
Note: it is dangerous to drive and not keep your eyes on the road. This is my difficulty; we have been made to wonder and marvel, and I love to do it.
A beginner’s guide to adventure! Perfect for any skill level, open most of the year, easy for everyone with a vehicle. Since I’m in Greenville, SC, that’s where our adventure will start.
Go north, and get yourself to Highway 11. The easiest, most direct way is via Highway 25, passing Furman University. Once you’re on 11, make your way west to Highway 276, and head north again. This winding road will take you directly up to Caesar’s Head State Park. Now, I said you don’t have to get out of the car, and you don’t have to; however, the overlook is only a few yards from the parking area and is worth the look. Keeping north on 276, you’ll pass the parking for Raven Cliff Falls, the highest waterfall in South Carolina, but that requires hiking to get to so we won’t dive into that trek here. It is worth noting it’s location, though. Stay north on 276, and you’ll enter Transylvania County, North Carolina. The Land of Waterfalls. It’s true, the signs say so. Not too far in, you’ll come to a turnoff for DuPont State Forest, where Hooker Falls, High Falls, Bridal Veil Falls, and Triple Falls all reside. Short hikes, so not for the car adventurer, but again a location worth noting.Keep on 276 until you get into Brevard. Taking a right downtown, 276 joins 64, until you’re out of Brevard. A left turn at the intersection of 276/64/280 will keep you on 276, and here you will enter Pisgah National Forest. Picnics areas, fishing, swimming holes, and waterfalls abound here, all labeled by signage and pull off parking. Any of these make great and scenic stops, or you can bypass them all. 276 through Pisgah is a beautiful drive. As much as I love the forest from within, I love big views. Keep on 276, and you’ll eventually come to some serious curves, which will lead youto an on-ramp to the Blue Ridge Parkway.
Here is where your adventure really begins! The drive on the Parkway is beyond rewarding, and there is so much scenery you cannot possibly take it all in. It is here that wonder and marveling are in full effect, and the glory of the Blue Ridge Mountains is before you. Be aware that seasonally the Parkway is closed. If it is closed, the gates at the entrance would be shut. There are not guardrails on every stretch, and an icy patch could turn your scenic drive into a really bad day. Closing during bad winter conditions are very appropriate, although the views would be wonderful.
I’m inclined to pause here, and recall some precious words of the late Keith Green: “You know, I look around at the world and I see all the beauty that God made. I see the forest and the trees and all the things. and says in the Bible that he made them is six days and I don’t know if they’re a literal six days or not. scientists would say no, some theologians would say yes. but I know that jesus christ has been preparing a home for me and for some of you, for two thousand years. and if the world took six days and that home two thousand years, hey man, this is like living in a garbage can compared to what’s going on up there.”
This is what I think of when I am out, and it is especially what I thought of on the BRP. Continuing on, there are multiple pull-offs and overlooks on the Parkway. A great spot is Looking Glass Rock, a giant granite dome on the south side of the ridge. You will also pass Graveyard Fields, Black Balsam Knob, Sam Knob, and Devil’s Courthouse. There is hiking available at these spots, but not necessary. In case you’re squirming, there ARE bathrooms at Black Balsam…but only if you value privacy over cleanliness. They are only pit toilets. Exit the BRP at Highway 215 and make your way south to the town of Rosman, NC. A little dog legging in town onto 64 (which will take you to Lake Toxaway if you head west) will bring you to Highway 178, which will bring you back into South Carolina. Take a left at Highway 11 (at The Rock golf course). You’ll pass by the towering Table Rock mountain, which can be more easily viewed from the lake area at Oolenoy State Park on the south side of the road. That’s an easy pull-off with an information building. Driving back towards Highway 25, just past 276 towards Caesar’s Head, you’ll pass Wildcat Falls. This is a nice roadside waterfall that’s nice for the kids in the summer. Once you make your way through Cleveland, you’ll come back to the intersection of 11 and 276, where there is usually a stand to pick up some boiled peanuts. Complete the drive back to 25 and then south to Greenville.
That’s a lot of adventuring for one day, and it can all be done without having to leave your car. Although, I highly doubt you could resist at least one or two of those pull-offs.
Now it’s time to do it for yourself! I edited the route in the map to take you through DuPont State Forest instead of 276 into Brevard.