The 1,000-acre Keowee-Toxaway State Park is in the midst of several large state parks along the Cherokee Foothills Scenic Highway S.C. 11 in South Carolinas Upstate. Dont let its relatively small size fool you: This is a great place for a peaceful excursion for a hike, a picnic or an extended stay.
From Raleigh, its about 300 miles, roughly 5 hours, one way.
To see and do
The park, nestled alongside 18,372-acre Lake Keowee, is popular with fishermen who angle for catfish, crappie, bass and bream. It is increasingly popular with canoeists and kayakers; the park recently added an outstanding put-in for boats, along with parking.
The parks primitive camping spots can be reached through its trail system, behind the parks visitor and education center. For RV and car camping, a 24-site campground is nicely laid out for maximum privacy between sites (10 for RVs, 14 for tents). Amenities include tent pads, fire rings, picnic tables, and hot-water bathroom and shower facilities. The park has one three-bedroom, fully furnished cabin, complete with a private boat dock.
Three interesting trails are within the park, two of which are accessible from the visitor center. The Natural Bridge Trail is a moderate 1.5-mile or so loop that meanders through beautiful terrain offering unexpected vistas (especially in cooler months), rock outcroppings and beautiful Poe Creek, complete with a small waterfall.
More adventuresome hikers can connect with the Raven Rock Trail and add 4 miles to the excursion. It is also the route to the primitive camping sites. A short trail leads from the main campsite to the lake.
The park has several picnic tables in day-use areas and five large shelters that can be rented.
Other activities include swimming (at your own risk), geocaching and bird watching; seasonal wildflowers include some rare species. Biking is allowed on the parks roadways.