Picturesque Places, Smiling Faces

This past weekend I made my annual trips to one of the most picturesque places in our State Parks --the top of Table Rock Mountain. While I must admit there are easer places to reach, the “view from the top” is worth the effort. As I sat atop the mountain looking out over the Table Rock Reservoir, I could see Caesars Head State Park nestled under a puff of clouds that could have easily been mistaken for a ball of cotton. As the sun’s warmth reminded me that spring has arrived in the mountains of South Carolina, the mountain breeze eased and allowed me to savor the moment.

Despite having made the trip many times the view never gets old and my camera was busy! During this trip I was captivated by the amount of water on and around the mountain. Streams were full, water dripped from the rocks and I even noted a distant waterfall I had never seen before. After I snapped my pictures, I sat down on the mountain and took it all in. What a great place for reflection. After a bit, my batteries were recharged and it was time to make the hike back down the mountain.

I’ve had this kind of “mountaintop” experience before, but not always on a mountain. For example, the sunrise over Myrtle Beach, a walk to the north end of Hunting Island and the CCC spillway at Poinsett. These picturesque places provide us with so many opportunities for reflection and for feeling connected with South Carolina and with each other. Be sure to bring your camera then download or email it to family and friends, post it on your Facebook page, and even post it on our Facebook page! It’s a great way to share your parks' experience.

So let’s start a list. What are the most picturesque places in our state parks? How about the sunset from a villa or campsite at Dreher Island, where the sun magically sets between the trees while bouncing its reflection off the waters of Lake Murray? Early morning at Hampton Plantation is hard to beat, with the iconic National Historic Landmark securely guarded by the Washington Oak with its wisps of Spanish moss. And there are always the beaches connecting to the mighty Atlantic Ocean at Myrtle Beach, Huntington Beach, Edisto Beach or Hunting Island. How about the Hunting Island Lighthouse, and the historic Atalaya Castle at Huntington Beach? The marshes of Huntington and Edisto Beach, the lagoon at Hunting Island, the lilies at Landsford Canal and the cypress trees of Lake Marion at Santee are all beautiful and picturesque in their own ways. And we can’t forget the middle Saluda River at Jones Gap, Raven Cliff Falls, Table Rock Mountain from scenic Highway 11 or the view of Lake Jocassee from Devils Fork. And have you ever seen the dogwoods in bloom at Little Pee Dee, the headwaters of Lake Juniper at Cheraw, or a starlight night at Oconee? The list is long, and filled with destinations that are as unique as they are beautiful.

These are just a few of the picturesque places in your state parks. A small sampling of the many places that bring smiles to thousands of faces each year. And the magic of these places are their ability to create connections that bond us as a state and to each other. These are places where the memories are timeless, serving as a comforting reminder that when we need these places, they’re here -- not only in pictures and memories but in your State Parks.

It's spring…see you in the parks!

Phil