Dog-Friendly Hikes: South Carolina
Posted by Lauren Gwinn on 30th October 2018
Known for its Palmetto trees, Spanish moss lined walkways,
and sandy beaches, South Carolina’s hiking trails are definitely a well-kept
secret! If mossy lined trails leading to breathtaking waterfalls, views of
dense green rolling mountains, or clear blue lake views are your ideal
destinations, South Carolina’s trails are definitely worth the hike! Even
better yet, you’ll have a hard time finding a trail that is not dog friendly!
Best Multi- Day Hikes/Backpacking:
Palmetto Trail: a 425 mile trail that encompasses all that
is great about South Carolina. This trail begins at the ocean, and ends in the
mountains. It passes through the most diverse terrain in the state, and could
be covered in its own blog post! The most notable sections are: Jocassee Gorges
Passage (covered below), and The Oconee Passage, which connects to breathtaking
waterfalls and our next trail, The Foothills Trail!
Foothills Trail: a 77 mile trail that covers the foothills
and mountains of South Carolina. There are MANY waterfalls and incredible views
on this hike. Backpackers should plan 5-10 days on this trail, but is easily
done in sections for those who just want to day hike! It’s worth mentioning
that this is a GREAT starter multi-day backpacking trip for pups- because of
the amount of water access! This hike
also includes the highest mountain in South Carolina- Sassafras Mountain!
Jones Gap/ Mountain Bridge Wilderness/ Caesar’s Head State
Falls Creek Falls & Rainbow Falls: Within miles of each other, these are
two of my favorite waterfalls in SC! Falls Creek Falls is located in the
Mountain Bridge Wilderness and is the least traveled of the three. It’s not an
easy hike, but it’s a great place to take pups for a swim!
Rainbow Falls is a MUST see. 5 miles
through the woods with quite a bit of elevation gain, this trail is rated
difficult, but it’s not like anything you’ve ever seen! Rainbow Falls drops
over 100 feet from steep granite walls, and reflects a big, bold, beautiful
rainbow! This is also a favorite spring/summer hike as there is plenty of water
& shade for the pups along the 5 mile hike!
Yellow Branch Falls: 3 miles through the dense forest, this
is a fairly moderate, but shorter hike! This is best viewed after heavier
rains, and has a lot of small pools for the pups (humans too!) to play in. Yellow Branch is one of the most picturesque
waterfalls around- so don’t forget your camera!
Best Kept Secret:
Moonshine Falls: Hands down a favorite (secret) waterfall in
the southeast. Moonshine Falls gets its name from- you guessed it- the site of
a moonshine still! There are still 55 gallon drums left over from the operation
which makes for really cool photos! This beauty is not only SUPER dog friendly,
but very lightly traveled! This 40’ waterfall has a plunge section you can walk
and hang out behind! At 6 miles, and with various river cable crossings, this
isn’t hike for everyone or every pup!
The trailhead of Moonshine Falls is in a private summer camp and
retreat, so don’t forget to call ahead and get permission (and a gate code!) to
Jocassee Gorges/Lake Jocassee: Named in the top 50 of the
“World’s Last Great Places” by National Geographic, you won’t ever experience
another lake like this! This clean, clear reservoir is also home to many
waterfalls on its shores that are accessible by boat! Devil’s Fork State Park
is the perfect spot camp and explore Lake Jocassee and its many hiking trails! Check
out the island by kayaking or stand up paddle boarding with your pup!
Have you been hiking in South Carolina? What are your
Lauren Gwinn is a writer and photographer and runs Palmetto Moon Pointers, a blog about hiking, backpacking, and travel with dogs. You’ll find her in the mountains, or on the back of her horse, always with her two Vizslas, Sutton & Banks, and border collie/Heeler mix, Deuce, by her side! Follow her adventures @palmettomoonpointers on Instagram and visit her blog: http://palmettomoonpointers.com
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