Best Backpacking in South Carolina

View of Lake Jocassee in South Carolina in early autumn
Shaman Mountain is reader-supported. We may earn a small commission on certain links, at no additional cost to you. Learn more.

Escape the ordinary and venture into the untamed beauty of South Carolina’s wilderness. From the rugged Appalachian Mountains to the serene coastal plains, the Palmetto State offers a plethora of breathtaking landscapes waiting to be explored. Whether you’re a seasoned backpacker seeking new challenges or a nature enthusiast eager to immerse yourself in the great outdoors, South Carolina has an abundance of remarkable destinations for your next backpacking expedition. Get ready to lace up your hiking boots and set out on an unforgettable journey through some of the most captivating trails this state has to offer.



Foothills Trail

The Foothills Trail, stretching for 77 miles through the picturesque Appalachian foothills, beckons adventurous backpackers with its rugged charm. Offering a challenging expedition through diverse terrain, this trail showcases breathtaking views, cascading waterfalls, and an unforgettable journey into South Carolina’s natural splendor. Backpackers can immerse themselves in the raw beauty of the landscape, forging unforgettable memories along the way.

Reasons To Go Backpacking on the Foothills Trail:

  • Scenic Beauty: The Foothills Trail winds through the Appalachian foothills, offering breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape, including lush forests, rolling hills, and majestic mountains.
  • Waterfall Exploration: Backpackers have the opportunity to discover numerous stunning waterfalls along the trail, providing refreshing spots to rest and admire nature’s wonders.
  • Diverse Terrain: The trail presents a variety of terrains, from challenging uphill climbs to gentle meadows, providing a well-rounded and exciting backpacking experience.
  • Solitude and Serenity: Away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life, the Foothills Trail offers a peaceful retreat in nature, allowing backpackers to find tranquility and escape into the wilderness.
  • Wildlife Encounters: The trail is home to a diverse array of wildlife, from songbirds to deer and maybe even the occasional black bear, offering backpackers a chance to connect with the natural world on a more intimate level.

Recommended Gear: Backpack, Hiking Boots, Sleeping Bag, Tent, Water Filter, Trekking Poles, Headlamp


Palmetto Trail

The Palmetto Trail stretches across South Carolina’s diverse landscapes, offering an unforgettable journey for outdoor enthusiasts. Spanning mountains, forests, and coastal plains, this trail provides a unique opportunity to experience the state’s natural beauty up close. With its varied terrain and captivating views, the Palmetto Trail promises an immersive adventure that showcases the best of South Carolina’s outdoors.

Reasons To Go Backpacking on the Palmetto Trail:

  • Eclectic Landscapes: The Palmetto Trail offers a remarkable diversity of landscapes, from the rolling hills of the Upstate to the coastal beauty of the Lowcountry, ensuring a rich and ever-changing backdrop for your journey.
  • Cultural Exploration: Along the trail, you’ll encounter historic landmarks, remnants of old railroads, and glimpses into the state’s cultural heritage, adding depth to your backpacking experience.
  • Wildlife Encounters: The trail winds through various ecosystems, providing opportunities to spot a range of wildlife, including birds, deer, and potentially even elusive species like alligators in the coastal areas.
  • Challenging Sections: With both easy strolls and challenging segments, the Palmetto Trail caters to backpackers of varying skill levels, offering a chance to push your limits and grow as an adventurer.
  • Community Connection: As you traverse the trail, you’ll engage with local communities, experiencing Southern hospitality and getting a taste of South Carolina’s small-town charm.

Recommended Gear: Backpack, Hiking Shoes, Tent, Sleeping Bag, Sleeping Bag, Map/Compass, Insect Repellent


Congaree National Park

Congaree National Park stands as a remarkable sanctuary of nature in South Carolina. Its vast expanse of old-growth hardwood forest and floodplain ecosystems creates a haven for diverse wildlife and a tranquil escape for visitors. With towering trees, meandering waterways, and abundant biodiversity, the park invites exploration into a primal landscape that has persevered through time.

Reasons To Go Backpacking in Congaree National Park:

  • Ancient Wilderness: Immerse yourself in one of the last remaining stands of old-growth bottomland hardwood forest in the United States, a living testament to nature’s resilience.
  • Unique Ecosystem: Explore a diverse floodplain ecosystem, home to a rich variety of plant and animal species, including the awe-inspiring cypress trees and seasonal floods.
  • Water Adventures: Backpackers can paddle through the park’s waterways, offering a unique perspective and a chance to witness the interplay between land and water.
  • Stargazing Delight: Experience breathtaking night skies as the park’s remote location allows for minimal light pollution, making it an ideal spot for stargazing and connecting with the cosmos.
  • Solitude and Reflection: Backpackers can find serenity as they navigate the park’s trails, connecting with nature and enjoying moments of quiet introspection amidst the pristine surroundings.

Recommended Gear: Backpack, Hiking Boots, Insect Repellent, Rain Gear, Headlamp, Binoculars, Map


Table Rock State Park

Table Rock State Park stands as a rugged jewel within South Carolina’s landscape. With its iconic granite dome and panoramic vistas, the park offers a haven for outdoor enthusiasts. Nestled amid the Blue Ridge Mountains, this natural playground promises challenging trails, cascading waterfalls, and serene lakes, inviting visitors to immerse themselves in the beauty of the Appalachian wilderness.

Reasons To Go Backpacking in Table Rock State Park:

  • Scenic Overlooks: Experience breathtaking vistas from the summit of Table Rock Mountain and other vantage points, offering sweeping views of the surrounding Blue Ridge Mountains.
  • Challenging Trails: The park boasts a network of challenging trails that cater to both novice and experienced backpackers, allowing for thrilling hikes and rewarding treks.
  • Waterfall Exploration: Discover picturesque waterfalls like Carrick Creek Falls and Pinnacle Falls, providing refreshing stops along the trails and opportunities for serene contemplation.
  • Lake Activities: Backpackers can enjoy activities like fishing, kayaking, and swimming in Pinnacle Lake, enhancing their adventure with water-based relaxation.
  • Rich Flora and Fauna: Encounter diverse plant and animal life as you hike through hardwood forests, offering chances to spot wildlife and appreciate the region’s biodiversity.

Recommended Gear: Backpack, Hiking Boots, Camping Gear, Water Bottle, Trail Map, First Aid Kit, Camera


Caesars Head State Park

Caesars Head State Park emerges as a striking haven for nature enthusiasts in South Carolina. Perched atop the Blue Ridge Escarpment, the park offers captivating vistas that stretch across miles of pristine wilderness. With its rugged terrain, cascading waterfalls, and a tapestry of diverse ecosystems, this park beckons adventurers to explore its trails and experience the raw beauty of the Appalachians.

Reasons To Go Backpacking in Caesars Head State Park:

  • Panoramic Views: Revel in breathtaking panoramic views from vantage points like Raven Cliff Falls and the Caesar’s Head overlook, offering unparalleled vistas of the surrounding landscapes.
  • Waterfall Wonders: Explore the mesmerizing Raven Cliff Falls and other cascades, providing serene spots for rest and reflection along the trails.
  • Varied Trails: Encounter a range of trail options, from easy walks to challenging hikes, allowing backpackers of all skill levels to find suitable routes.
  • Rich Biodiversity: Immerse yourself in a diverse ecosystem, observing a variety of plant and animal species as you journey through hardwood forests and unique habitats.
  • Adventure Hub: The park serves as a gateway to the Mountain Bridge Wilderness Area, offering access to even more trails and opportunities for extended exploration.

Recommended Gear: Backpack, Hiking Shoes, Trail Map, Water Bottle, Snacks, Camera, First Aid Kit


Francis Marion National Forest

Francis Marion National Forest, a sprawling expanse in South Carolina, beckons with its wild beauty and rich history. Embracing diverse ecosystems from pine woodlands to cypress swamps, the forest offers a refuge for outdoor enthusiasts. Its network of trails winds through a tapestry of landscapes, inviting exploration and a chance to connect with nature’s unspoiled allure.

Reasons To Go Backpacking in the Francis Marion National Forest:

  • Varied Ecosystems: Explore a range of ecosystems, including pine forests, freshwater swamps, and scenic waterways, showcasing the forest’s diverse natural beauty.
  • Abundant Wildlife: Encounter a multitude of wildlife species, from deer to alligators, providing opportunities for unique and captivating wildlife observations.
  • Historical Significance: Immerse yourself in history as you explore remnants of old rice plantations and other cultural landmarks that add depth to the forest’s story.
  • Tranquil Wilderness: Enjoy a sense of solitude and tranquility while backpacking through less-crowded trails, fostering a deeper connection with nature.
  • Water-Based Adventures: Engage in water-based activities such as kayaking and canoeing along the forest’s rivers and waterways, offering a refreshing way to experience the wilderness.

Recommended Gear: Backpack, Hiking Shoes, Map/Compass, Insect Repellent, Camping Gear, Water Filter, Wildlife Guidebook


Paris Mountain State Park

Paris Mountain State Park, a natural haven near Greenville, South Carolina, beckons with its blend of outdoor adventures and serene landscapes. Lush woodlands, serene lakes, and hiking trails crisscross this haven, providing a respite from urban life. As a recreational paradise, the park invites visitors to unwind, explore, and connect with nature’s tranquility and vibrant offerings.

Reasons To Go Backpacking in Paris Mountain State Park:

  • Proximity to Urban Area: Enjoy the convenience of a natural escape just a stone’s throw from Greenville, making it an ideal weekend getaway.
  • Varied Trails: Explore a network of trails suitable for various skill levels, from easy walks to more challenging hikes, offering diverse experiences.
  • Lake Activities: Engage in water activities such as kayaking, fishing, and swimming in the park’s serene lakes, enhancing your adventure.
  • Scenic Overlooks: Witness breathtaking views from vantage points like Mountain Lake and the park’s summit, providing rewarding perspectives of the surrounding landscape.
  • Wildlife Spotting: Encounter a range of wildlife, from birds to deer, in their natural habitat, adding an element of wildlife observation to your backpacking experience.

Recommended Gear: Backpack, Hiking Shoes, Trail Map, Water Bottle, Snacks, Binoculars, First Aid Kit


Jones Gap State Park

Jones Gap State Park, a pristine wilderness nestled within the Blue Ridge Mountains, beckons with its untouched beauty. From cascading waterfalls to meandering streams, the park offers a tranquil escape for nature lovers. Its diverse trails wind through lush forests, showcasing the area’s biodiversity and providing an idyllic backdrop for exploration and a deep connection with the natural world.

Reasons To Go Backpacking in Jones Gap State Park:

  • Waterfall Wonders: Encounter a series of picturesque waterfalls along the trails, including the iconic Rainbow Falls and Jones Gap Falls.
  • Tranquil Trails: Explore serene hiking trails that wind through lush forests, offering a peaceful escape from the hustle and bustle of daily life.
  • Mountain Scenery: Immerse yourself in the breathtaking beauty of the Blue Ridge Mountains, with panoramic views and scenic overlooks.
  • Wildlife Spotting: Observe a variety of wildlife, including deer, birds, and possibly black bears, enhancing the natural experience.
  • Backcountry Camping: Enjoy backcountry camping options, allowing you to fully immerse yourself in the park’s wilderness and enjoy the sounds of nature.

Recommended Gear: Backpack, Hiking Boots, Water Filter, Trail Map, Camping Gear, Bear Canister, First Aid Kit


Chattooga River Trail

The Chattooga River Trail, tracing the contours of the pristine Chattooga River, captivates adventurers with its untamed beauty. Winding through lush forests and rolling landscapes, the trail offers an immersive experience in the heart of nature. With opportunities to witness the river’s cascades, tranquil pools, and diverse wildlife, this trail beckons those seeking a soul-stirring journey through the wilderness.

Reasons To Go Backpacking on the Chattooga River Trail:

  • River Serenity: Immerse yourself in the soothing ambiance of the Chattooga River, with its calming sounds and tranquil pools.
  • Scenic Waterfalls: Encounter breathtaking waterfalls, including the stunning King Creek Falls, offering refreshing stops along the trail.
  • Diverse Terrain: Experience varied landscapes, from wooded sections to open meadows, providing a dynamic and engaging backpacking adventure.
  • Wildlife Encounters: Observe a range of wildlife species, from deer to otters, as they thrive in the river’s rich ecosystem.
  • River Crossings: Navigate the river’s crossings, adding an element of adventure and offering a chance to connect with nature in a unique way.

Recommended Gear: Backpack, Water Shoes, Trail Map, Camping Gear, Insect Repellent, Trekking Poles, Bear Canister


Croft State Park

The Chattooga River Trail, tracing the contours of the pristine Chattooga River, captivates adventurers with its untamed beauty. Winding through lush forests and rolling landscapes, the trail offers an immersive experience in the heart of nature. With opportunities to witness the river’s cascades, tranquil pools, and diverse wildlife, this trail beckons those seeking a soul-stirring journey through the wilderness.

Reasons To Go Backpacking on the Chattooga River Trail:

  • River Serenity: Immerse yourself in the soothing ambiance of the Chattooga River, with its calming sounds and tranquil pools.
  • Scenic Waterfalls: Encounter breathtaking waterfalls, including the stunning King Creek Falls, offering refreshing stops along the trail.
  • Diverse Terrain: Experience varied landscapes, from wooded sections to open meadows, providing a dynamic and engaging backpacking adventure.
  • Wildlife Encounters: Observe a range of wildlife species, from deer to otters, as they thrive in the river’s rich ecosystem.
  • River Crossings: Navigate the river’s crossings, adding an element of adventure and offering a chance to connect with nature in a unique way.

Recommended Gear: Backpack, Water Shoes, Trail Map, Camping Gear, Insect Repellent, Trekking Poles, Bear Canister


Related Posts:

A serene lake surrounded by lush greenery.

Best Shore Fishing in South Carolina

South Carolina offers an array of shore fishing opportunities that cater to both novice and seasoned anglers. Along the Palmetto State’s picturesque coastline and freshwater

Hiking trail symbol on a tree in Michigan

Best Backpacking in Michigan

Michigan, the Great Lakes State, boasts a mesmerizing tapestry of natural wonders that beckon adventure seekers and nature enthusiasts alike. Tucked away within its expansive

Hiker with a backpack and trekking pole looking at a beautiful mountain view in North Carolina

Best Backpacking in North Carolina

Exploring the rugged wilderness and breathtaking landscapes of North Carolina is a journey that every avid backpacker should undertake. This southeastern gem offers an array