Great Local Hikes for Everyone in the Family

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One of the things that drew us to the Upstate was the proximity to the mountains. We are most definitely mountain people (although we still love the beach). There are amazing hikes all over the mountains within a 2 hour drive, ranging in difficulty from a newbie hiker to advanced. Since I have two children (ages 7,10), I’m going to share our most favorite hikes we have done and touch on the difficulty in regards to children.

CEDAR FALLS PARK

Cedar Falls Park is located in Fountain Inn, SC; and is also conveniently close to CityScape Winery, as well as Happy Cow Creamery. There is a very easy paved walking trail from the waterfalls to the adjoining field and playground, as well as other trails coming off of the main trail. This is a great place if you do not want to drive far. Parking is limited, and everything is maintained by Greenville Rec. There is also a maintained bathroom on site. We have taken our children multiple times to walk around and even practice with their fishing poles.

Parking is very limited right next to the falls, but there is a larger parking lot by the playground and bathrooms. You can even read about the history of the washed out dam on several placards that are present.

Cedar Falls Park kid friendly hike
Cedar Falls Park. Photo Cred: Weston Studer

WILDCAT WAYSIDE

Wildcat Wayside is another hike very close to Greenville in Cleveland, SC, just past Travelers Rest. Parking is incredibly limited (you park off the side of the road) and treacherous. Immediately, there is a great swimming hole, very shallow for kids and for adults to wade. Further back there is a historical picnic spot. The actual hike is fairly easy, about a mile and runs in a circle.

This hike is a great place to bring a picnic and enjoy all the shade of the trees and cool off in the mountain water; kids of all ages can certainly enjoy this one!

local hike WildCat Wayside park
WildCat Wayside

 

PARIS MOUNTAIN STATE PARK

The main lake trail is called the Lake Placid trail loop. It is great for a family. There is adequate parking, but there is a fee to get into the state park. In the warmer months, there are kayaks and paddle boats to rent; as well as a roped off swimming area. There are several other trails in the state park, but I stand by this one as best for families with small children.

local hike for kids and family Paris Mountain State Park
Paris Mountain State Park

 

RAINBOW FALLS

This is my absolute favorite hike in all of my years in the Upstate. When we moved here in 2010, our realtor told us about Pretty Place, also known as Symmes Chapel. (If you haven’t been there, it’s truly amazing!) We were also instructed to check out Rainbow Falls, which was not far from Pretty Place. Keep in mind that Pretty Place is INSIDE the property owned by YMCA Camp Greenville. We found the “secret” Camp Greenville entrance to the hike to Rainbow Falls that day (it is not marked), and have used that entrance many times since. However, I have heard through the grapevine that it is much more difficult to access that entrance in recent years. So… using the trailhead from Jones Gap State Park for Rainbow Falls is probably your best bet.

This is a much more difficult hike, and would be very difficult with small children. I have done this hike with a baby strapped on my back by myself (not advised, but I got through it!), and I also hiked this when my son was about 6 years old. He was able to do it, but it was taxing for him.

This particular waterfall is the closest thing I have seen to the amazing waterfalls of Hawaii!

local hikes for family Rainbow Falls
Rainbow Falls

 

TRIPLE FALLS IN DUPONT STATE FOREST

If you have lived in the Upstate long, you probably have at least heard of Triple Falls. I must warn you, Triple Falls is very crowded most weekend days. However, it is a spectacular view! Parts of the first “The Hunger Games” movie were filmed here. As far as difficulty, it is moderate. The hike up is fairly steep, so you better believe our kids complained the entire time! They were 6 and 9 at the time.

local family hikes Triple Falls
Triple Falls

 

RILEY MOORE FALLS

Last Mother’s Day, I wanted to try out a new hike. So, I was led to Riley Moore Falls in Westminster, SC. The drive there was a little rocky (one of the other road options was closed at the time). I would almost describe the drive to get there as “treacherous,” so be sure to drive a very safe car!

Riley Moore Falls was only 12ft high, but was over 100ft wide! The total hike (out and back) is about 1.9miles. Our children loved it! Easy going in, moderate hike going back to your vehicle. Our kids loved it, and they were 6 and 9 at the time.

Riley Moore Falls
Riley Moore Falls

 

PEARSON’S FALLS NEAR SALUDA, NC

Pearson’s Falls ended up being a diamond in the rough that we never knew about! We were in Hendersonville, NC, for the weekend during the pandemic, and this hike was recommended. It was the most well maintained trail I have ever been on. There are certain hours, and there is also admission. Adults 13 and up are $5, Ages 6-12 $1, and Under 6 are Free. They also accept credit cards.

The beauty on this trail was indescribable, and I was happy to pay the small fee to support the Tryon Garden Club, who maintains and owns the property. This hike will not disappoint, and was very easy for everyone in the family!

Pearson's Falls
Pearson’s Falls

 

SKINNY DIP FALLS

Skinny Dip Falls is a 1 mile trail near Balsam Grove, North Carolina. The hike itself is very easy. The end of the trail leads to a beautiful swimming hole. On a hot summer day, it is the perfect spot to jump off the rock into the water. Recently, however, there have been road closures on the Blue Ridge Parkway leading to this trail, so be sure to check google maps prior to going!

Skinny Dip Falls, family hike
Skinny Dip Falls

LOOKING GLASS FALLS

Looking Glass Falls is near the Pisgah Forest in North Carolina (very close to Sliding Rock). It is very easy to locate (right off of the road), and parking is on the side of the road. There is a built in staircase you can take down to explore the rocks at the base of the waterfall and wade in the water. All the times we have visited these falls, it has been very busy. The upside is everyone in the family can go because there really is no hike involved, just stairs!

Looking Glass Falls
Looking Glass Falls

 

SLIDING ROCK

Technically, Sliding Rock is not a hike, but I have to include it because it is so awesome! For Father’s Day a few years back, I planned an entire day starting at Skinny Dip Falls, then Sliding Rock, and lastly Looking Glass Falls. It was perfect. Yes, it was a lot of driving, but I loved that we visited 3 major sites in one day.

Sliding Rock is a flat 60 foot rock that ends in an 8 foot deep pool of water! Even if some in your group do not want to slide, they can observe from the platform at the end. Definitely bring life jackets or puddle jumpers for kids. I also highly recommend wearing an old pair of shorts over your bathing suit. It will help you slide down the rock, and help you not chafe! It is $4 per person to enter (that is a great price in my opinion), and credit cards are accepted.

Sliding Rock family hike
Sliding Rock

 

Lastly, I highly recommend always researching every hike you go on prior to going, especially in the mountains. Oftentimes, weather can cause mudslides, road closures, etc. I have the AllTrails app downloaded on my phone, which includes all of the above hikes as well as distance, their difficulty, reviews from hikers, etc. It is a wonderful resource. Lastly, some of the more well maintained trails may have some Covid-19 stipulations, so again research before you go. Bon voyage!

 

 

 

Do you and your family hike often? We’d love to hear what your favorite hiking trails/spots are!

 

 

 

 

 

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