Across the street from Augusta, Georgia is South Carolina’s Old 96 District, a community of hidden treasures that include some of the best destination hiking in South Carolina. You’ll find short trails that meander just enough for families to enjoy, ones that end with a jump in the lake, tons of trails with historical significance (and ruins, houses or forts to discover), as well as paths through some of the beautiful towns in the region. We have the inside scoop on the local favorites.
Destination Hiking in South Carolina ’s Old 96 District
In the Old 96 District are 150 miles of hiking and biking trails sprinkled among six state parks, and 2,000 miles of shoreline across three lakes: Russell, Greenwood, and Thurmond.
The South Carolina Upcountry near the North Carolina border and the Blue Ridge Mountains may get all the press. Indeed the Foothills Trail, Sassafras Mountains Trail and Table Rock Mountain trails all offer great hiking, but there is something special and undiscovered about the Old 96 area.
In addition to finding natural beauty and hardwood forests, several of these trails in South Carolina begin or end near historic towns so you can pair your hike with farm-to-table dining, local shopping, or if you time it right, a true southern festival. Here’s your guide to these hidden gems.
Hikes to Forts, Ruins and other Historic sites
Ninety Six National Historic Site’s Historical Trail, Old Ninety-Six
Distance: 1 Mile
Why We Love It: I was surprised to learn that South Carolina had more Revolutionary War battles than any other colony. In fact, according to South Carolina historians, the SC backcountry was where the Revolution was won. The Old 96 District has several miles of trails that go through this very historic acreage.
The first is the Ninety Six National Historic Site’s Historical Trail, located outside the town of Ninety Six. This trail has a station-to-station interpretation of the first Southern land battle of the American Revolution that was fought at Ninety-Six beginning on November 18, 1775. You can still see the outline of the Star Fort which Loyalists defended against patriots like Robert E. Lee’s father Henry “Light Horse Harry” Lee III. Read more in our post here.
Don’t Miss: The Town of Ninety Six Trail may be accessed from either end of town. Be sure to visit in June when the Festival of Stars celebrates Independence Day.
Ten Governor’s Trail, Edgefield
Distance: 2 Miles
Why We Love It: Ten Governors Trail in downtown Edgefield starts at the memorial to Strom Thurmond and curves past historic homes and gubernatorial memorials. Strom Thurmond was the longest serving Senator in the US Congress. Savannah Valley Railroad Trail in McCormick County leads visitors past historic sites and markers including the old Dorn Mill, at one time a staple in the county for cotton production.
Musgrove Mill State Historic Site, Clinton
Battlefield Trail Distance: 1.5 Miles
British Encampment Trail Distance: 1 Mile
Why We Love It: Musgrove Mill State Historic Site, outside of Clinton, SC has two very different trails. The Battlefield Trail has interpretive waysides that explain the Revolutionary War Battle of Musgrove’s Mill, which occurred on August 19, 1780. This trail offers an ADA approved boardwalk, perfect for strollers or wheelchairs, and ends at Horseshoe Falls. The pool at the bottom of this small falls is a popular swimming hold and splash area for kids. Another section of trail at Musgrove Mill is The British Encampment trail, a leisurely trail that goes by an old mill and the Musgrove home site.
Savannah Valley Railroad Trail, McCormick
Distance: 9.6 Miles
Why We Love It: This trail is one of 19 trails located within the Sumter National Forests. As the name implies, this is an old railroad corridor that connected Anderson SC with Charleston. A few miles in take a break and explore the foundation of the Civil War era Badwell Plantation and Pettigru Springhouse.
Family Friendly Hikes Perfect for Meandering
National Wild Turkey Federation Trails, Edgefield
Jakes Jog Distance: 0.8 Miles
Turkey Trot Distance: 2.9 Miles
Longleaf Lane Distance: Under 1 Mile
Ed’s Trail Distance: Under a Mile
Why We Love It: The National Wild Turkey Federation’s Outdoor Education Center in Edgefield has several trails from easy and short to a bit longer and more strenuous, as well as short easy nature trails. What is the NWTF you ask? It’s the ONLY museum in the WORLD dedicated to the wild turkey, and the adjacent Outdoor Education Center includes classes, as well as trails. After your hike, head back to the NWTF Museum for an amazing opportunity to learn about the wild turkey, its habitats and fun, interactive exhibits that are designed for all ages.
Lake Greenwood Trail, Greenwood
Distance: 0.7 Mile
Why We Love It: This easy loop located in Lake Greenwood State Park (park fee required) features a peninsula that juts out into Lake Greenwood. From this vantage point, you can see the outline of the lake in three directions. The locals say this is the best way to see the lake “in all of its glory.”
Wine – Turkey Creek Trails
Distance: 7 Miles
Why We Love It: At the end of the Wine Creek trail you can either head back the way you came, or keep going on the Turkey Creek Trail. The combined trails are about a 24 mile hike and take you from McCormick County to Edgefield County, SC
Other Family Friendly Trails to Try
Lick Fork Lake Trail, Edgefield
Distance: 1.7 Miles
Laurens County Park Nature Trail
Distance: .7 Miles
Bring Your Bathing Suit Hikes
McCalla State Recreation Area
Cedar Bluff Nature Trail, Abbeville
Distance: 1.75 Miles
Why We Love It: This hiking trail is located within Calhoun Falls State Park along Lake Russell. In addition to the hiking trails, there are also 10 miles of horse trails. And after the hike, you can take a dip in the lake!
Musgrove Mill State Historic Site, Clinton
Battlefield Trail Distance: 1.5 Miles
Why We Love It: We mentioned the Battlefield trail above in the history section, but just wanted to make sure you caught that this trail ends at Horseshoe Falls – where you’ll find kids swimming and splashing around – one reason I added this to my hiking in South Carolina bucket list.
See Something Rare on this Nature-Lovers Hike
Stevens Creek Heritage Preserve, McCormick
Distance: 7.1 Miles
Why We Love It: Access trails in the Stevens Creek Heritage Preserve at Hamilton Branch State Park are in McCormick. Along the trails, be on the lookout for 15 rare plant species and the endangered Webster’s salamander. It has been said that on a typical day hiking or biking one may encounter some plants that date back to the Ice Age! The best place to see them is along Stevens Creek Bluff within the preserve.
You may find the Florida or Miccosukee gooseberry (Ribes echinellum), a small, perennial shrub which is known only on the bluff and Lake Miccosukee in Florida, and it is listed as threatened by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The preserve is also home to Webster’s salamander (Plethodon websteri), a secretive, state-listed endangered species rare in South Carolina. This dark brown, zigzag-striped terrestrial salamander.
The Palmetto Trail is a proposed 425-mile trail through South Carolina, that when complete will pass through northern Laurens County along the Enoree River.
Hiking in South Carolina: Urban Hikes
Uptown Greenwood Trails, Greenwood
Heritage Trail Distance: 6 Miles
Grace Street Park Distance: 0.8 Miles
West Cambridge Street Park Trail Distance: 3 Miles
Why We Love It: Hiking in South Carolina ‘s quaint towns can make you hungry. Uptown restaurants such as Kicker’s, Howard’s on Main and Polo’s are conveniently located close to several trails. Don’t make the mistake of passing up Kicker’s because of a wait. This is the place for a savory lunch or dinner you’ll remember. If you’d rather kick back with an adult beverage and listen to some live music, Howard’s is the post-hike place to go. Polo’s is the place for a true dining experience, but don’t worry it’s casual enough for hiking boots.
Don’t Miss: In early June, uptown Greenwood blooms with the SC Festival of Flowers. Be sure to walk down Main Street and view the signature topiary displays during the entire month. In July, any of the uptown Greenwood trails are close to the action of the SC Festival of Discovery – a barbecue competition and Blues Cruise.
Little River Trail, Laurens
Distance: 1.1 Miles
Why We Love It: Little River runs right through downtown Laurens. In summer visit the Downtown Farmer’s Market for fresh locally grown produce. Anytime stop for a movie and milkshake at Capitol Theatre and 50’s Diner or giant burger at Whitfords, a Lauren’s County tradition for over 50 years.
Don’t Miss: Squealin’ on the Square in October with a barbecue competition and all-day activities. Little River Trail in downtown Laurens is very close to all the action.
Hiking in South Carolina for the Serious Outdoorsman (woman)
Long Cane Horse Trail, Abbeville
Distance: 23 Miles
Why We Love It: This is like two trails in one. Take the entire loop, or cut it short at the Long Cane Horse Trail Crossing.
Stevens Creek/Modoc Trail
Distance: 6.3 Miles
Why We Love It: If you are looking for an off the beaten path trail with a bit more challenge, this is it. Be prepared to cross a few creeks.
Biking and Other Trails in South Carolina
Cedar Springs Trail, Abbeville
This trail is for Off Highway Vehicles (OHV)
Baker Creek State Park Trail
A mountain biking trail in McCormick.
Lauren’s County Bicycle Trail
Distance: 70 Miles
Horn Creek Trail, Edgefield
Distance: 5.7 Miles
More Great South Carolina Hiking
While South Carolina’s Old 96 District is packed with the best hiking just over the Georgia border, there are a few other places we think you should add to your list…after you’ve conquered the ones above.
Paris Mountain State Park in Greenville. 9 trails covering almost 15 miles are great places to see wildlife.
Jocassee Gorges Wilderness Area in Sunset. This sprawling natural area offers waterfalls, streams & trails for hunting, fishing, birding & hiking. There are also great trails here around Lake Jocassee.
Fort Mill, SC. Explore more Civil War trails here, including trails along the greenway, the Access Area along the dam, the cultural center and trails within Historic Brattonsville.
Jones Gap State Park. Eight trails run from a one-mile to 20-miles long, with stunning waterfalls along the way. This is also a great access point to Mountain Bridge Wilderness Area.
Pinnacle Mountain Trail. This trail is pretty strenuous, at 3.3 miles each way. You’ll pass a few waterfalls, but the real perk is climbing to the top for aerial views of Greenville on a clear day.
Ceasars Head State Park. 60+ miles of trails and 6 waterfalls make this a great place to hike. Visit Sept – Nov when thousands of hawks migrate through the park.
We are excited to partner with the Old 96 District in South Carolina on this sponsored post to get the true inside scoop.