Hiking Table Rock Mountain
The most iconic mountain in the upstate of South Carolina
Table Rock Mountain is the most iconic mountain in the upstate of South Carolina. Located in Pickens County, the mountain is nestled in the foothills of the Blue Ridge mountains. Table Rock’s stately rock faces can be viewed all the way in Greenville on a clear day, and have provided inspiration to all generations, dating back to the Cherokee tribes. The Cherokee Indians called the mountain “Sah-ka-na-ga” meaning “Great Blue Hills of God” and they believed that their god used the mountain as a table during feasts.
The trail up Table Rock Mountain is located in Table Rock State Park. The hike is steep and strenuous, but incredibly rewarding. It is a 3.6-mile hike from the visitor center to the top, and it is 3.6 miles straight uphill. We usually plan on the hike taking 4-6 hours total, depending on the fitness level of our group. Other hikes within the park include Pinnacle Mountain, Mills Creek Pass, Lakeside Trail and Carrick Creek trail. These trails are variety of distances and difficulties making it easy to find a hike suitable for everyone in your group.
The trail for Table Rock Mountain begins at the visitor’s center, which is across from the swimming area. The trail has clearly marked signs pointing hikers in the correct direction, but if you have any doubt, then follow the red markers. After leaving the visitor center, the trail begins by following Carrick Creek. This beautiful creek cascades over rocks creating numerous small waterfalls. Wading in the creek is a cool and refreshing way to end the hike. As you hike past Carrick Creek, there will be a couple of forks in the trail for the first half-mile. The forks lead to Pinnacle Mountain and the Carrick Creek trail. At both forks you will stay right.
There are a handful of key landmarks once you are on the main trail. The first landmark is a wooden, lookout shelter. The shelter provides the first major view and it is approximately halfway up the mountain. If you walk a few yards past the shelter, then you will see an exposed rock face with an even better view than the shelter. This is a perfect place to catch your breath and relax
The next major landmark is Governor’s Rock. A lot of hikers think this is the summit; don’t be fooled! Governor’s Rock is another large rock face that overlooks Pinnacle and Sassafras Mountains. There are steps chiseled into the rock leading up to view and there is a sign at the top of the rock indicating that it is Governor’s Rock. The trail continues past this sign. It is roughly another half mile to the summit and another mile to the final overlook.
I am going to warn you that the summit is fairly anti-climactic. The summit is marked with a tall sign in the middle of the forest where there is no view. Don’t be disheartened! Take your selfie at the sign and continue to the Table Rock overlook. The hike to the overlook is gradual downhill for a half-mile. Your legs will appreciate the break. The overlook provides a stunning vista of the Table Rock water reservoir with the foothills mountains in the background. The rock face bends around the mountain so feel free to explore and enjoy the view that you worked so hard to earn!
- Cost: $5 per adult, $3 children
- Hours of Operation: Monday – Sunday 7 AM – 9 PM
- Address: Table Rock State Park, 158 Ellison Ln, Pickens SC 29671
- Trail Distance: 3.6 miles one way
- Food or Beer Nearby: Picken has cool spots on Main St. Definitely check out Appalachian Ale House.
- Camping: Table Rock State Park has two designated campgrounds
- Hiking map: A map is available on the park’s website
How To Get There
Table Rock State Park is conveniently located on Highway 11 near Lake Keowee and Lake Jocassee. There are a few different entrances and you will want to use one of the entrances that are on the western side (mountain side) of the highway.