Table Rock State Park spreads out a fabulous assortment of treats this time of year. It just might be the nicest place in South Carolina to enjoy Mother Nature's finest flowers, foliage, and views.
The park sits 16 miles northeast of Pickens on State 11, a scenic two-lane stretching through the Upcountry. You can spot the cliff faces of the 3,124-foot mountain and its partner, 3,225-foot Pinnacle Mountain, rising above the treetops from miles away.
Things get even prettier as you approach the entrance, when you see the peak of Table Rock reflected in Pinnacle Lake at its base. There's no grander view of spring.
Once you've arrived, there are several things you can do, including fishing, canoeing, paddleboating, and hiking. "We have 10 miles of hiking trails and offer guided trail walks throughout the year," says park manager Poll Knowland. "One trail leads to the top of Table Rock, which has a spectacular view." You can also opt for a horseback ride with our good buddy Tony Ellison at the nearby Table Rock Equestrian Center. Tony will take you on a half-day trail ride past flowering dogwoods and up to a panoramic view ($110 for a half-day ride, including a packed lunch;  878-2896).
Savor the Season
The absolute best way to take it all in is by renting a cabin here. Good news: The 14 cabins are plain but priced right. They come completely furnished, have heating and air-conditioning, bed and bath linens, cooking and eating utensils, coffeemaker, micro-wave, screened porch, and fireplace.
A one-bedroom cabin sleeps four and goes for an amazingly low $65 a night. The three-bedroom cabins run $103 (two-night minimum stay on weekends; after Memorial Day, rentals are weekly only). Campsites are also available for $17.44 a night.
The not-so-good news: As you might expect, cabins are often reserved far in advance. But you could get lucky with a last-minute cancellation and spend a great spring weekend in this fabulous place.
Table Rock State Park: 158 East Ellison Lane, Pickens, SC 29671, (864) 878-9813. Admission: $2 adults.
This article is from the April 2004 issue of Southern Living. Because prices, dates, and other specifics are subject to change, please check all information to make sure it's still current before making your travel plans.