Each year the fall season brings with it the promise of a sunburst of colors in much of the Palmetto State as the trees morph into living art exhibits. If you’re planning an excursion to take in the sights, then the Farmer’s Alamanac is predicting the
peak foliage season in South Carolina will be from October 19 through November 4, 2016.
We’ve put together a road trip on one of the upstate’s scenic byways that’ll have you enjoying the sights, sounds and even the smell of fall as you meander along the highway. We’ve even added some points of interest to see along the way. Enjoy this fall foliage road trip through South Carolina’s Upstate.
Much of the ride should yield views equally as gorgeous as this photo.
Here's your Google Map, you can click
this link to get it to open in Google Map view and then send or save it to your smartphone for the trip.
The main road you'll be traveling on is the Cherokee Foothills Scenic Byway, a.k.a. SC-11. The drive time is under five hours, but you'll want to allow much more time for gawking, sightseeing and in general...just taking your time and enjoying the day.
The tour starts in front of Limestone College in downtown Gaffney. Have fun!
1. Limestone College - Gaffney
Established in 1845, Limestone College is the third oldest college in South Carolina. The campus is stunning, especially when the leaves are changing. This is a great place to start your fall foliage tour, even if you're just driving by the campus as you get underway. The magnificent building in the photo above can be seen from the intersection of College Drive and Griffith Street in downtown Gaffney.
Google Map location and coordinates
From here, the precharted Google map will take you onto SC-11 to enjoy the fall foliage enroute to the next stop.
2. Cowpens National Battlefield - Gaffney
Located near Chesnee, this national treasure commemorates a significant battle fought here during the Revolutionary War. After you finish marveling at the fall color, peek in the log museum for exhibits from the American Revolutionary War before you hit the road for more sightseeing.
3. Optional Food Stop: Bantam Chef - Chesnee
Hungry yet? Take a slight detour from SC-11 to stop at an Upstate icon for a quick bite before hitting the trail. Bantam Chef has a unique "museum" in the dining room, featuring a 1950s Studebaker and more! You'll enjoy the food, the atmosphere and refueling in this great eatery along your fall foliage route.
4. Head back out onto SC-11, The Cherokee Foothills Scenic Highway.
Note: If you have rose color sunglasses, this is probably a good time to put them on. Auburn lenses make fall colors look even more amazing.
5. Campbell's Covered Bridge - Landrum
Take a left onto SC-14 E and then a right onto 414 (you can also just follow the Google Map link above) and head over to pay homage to the last of the old covered bridges in South Carolina. Campbell's Covered Bridge is a a well-preserved piece of South Carolina history. Even if you've seen it before, you'll love renewing your connection to this relic in this beautiful fall setting.
6. Symmes Chapel, a.k.a. Pretty Place - Cleveland, SC
There's no other view like it in South Carolina. The stunning images you'll capture here will inspire you for the rest of your life. Built as a chapel for the youth camp, Symmes has become a popular place for weddings. For that reason, be sure you call before you plan your fall foliage trip. If there's an event taking place then you won't be permitted to enter. So call, and if the venue is closed you may want to plan to come back to just this one spot on another weekend. You can contact them ahead of time at (864)836-3291.
is their website.
7. Table Rock State Park
This is one time you don't have to haul yourself up to the TOP of Table Rock for the breathtaking view. You'll find the entrance to this state park right on SC-11 where you can pull in and admire this monolitic landmark in all its fall splendor right from the parking area.
8. Lake Jocassee - Salem
Take a detour off SC-11 and head over to the welcome center at Devils Fork State Park. Get an upclose look at South Carolina's own "grand canyon" and the beautiful fall colors smattered on the plunging mountainscapes surrounding this man-made lake.
9. Isaqueena Falls - Walhalla
The short hike down to the observation deck at Issaqueena Falls north of Walhalla makes this small detour worth the effort. You'll veer off SC-11 for just a few minutes and head to Stumphouse Tunnel Park just north of Walhalla. The trailhead to Isaqueena Falls is located in the park. If you have time, you can also explore the Stumphouse Mountain Tunnel on this detour before heading back to SC-11, the Cherokee Foothills Scenic Byway.
10. Lake Hartwell State Park (enroute to Interstate 85) on SC-11
After Issequeena Falls hit the road again for more gorgeous fall foliage. Just before you get to Interstate 85, and the end of this tour, you'll have the option to stop at Lake Hartwell State Park. Here, you can admire the clear water and the red outline the soil makes all the way around the lake. Lake Hartwell is gorgeous any time of year, but especially in the fall.
Fall is a very special season in the Palmetto State. The window of opportunity to see the leaves changing colors is so small it makes the event even more special. This fall foliage road trip through South Carolina’s beautiful Upstate is perfect for seeing our state like you’ve never seen it before.
Is fall your favorite season in South Carolina? We’d love to know in our comments!