Resting on the shores of the Reedy River, Greenville, South Carolina is a gem for outdoor enthusiasts. Sitting just south of the stunning Pisgah National Forest and close to numerous state parks—all worthy of long-term exploration—Greenville has access to incredible family backpacking destinations, and world-class mountain biking, rock climbing, and hiking.
For most who head out into the beautiful backcountry from Greenville, a stop at Half-Moon Outfitters is the natural first step. Serving outdoor communities around the south since 1993, Half-Moon has nine stores spread throughout Georgia and South Carolina. If you need something before you head out onto the trails or are just looking for a little advice on where to go, Half-Moon is a good place to start.
Baby on board? Half-Moon carries Osprey’s AG Expansion Poco child carrier, which lets you nestle in your little one for his/her first time on the trail or their hundredth. There are a ton of other Osprey packs to fit any adventure, so if your looking to carry something other than a tiny tot (like water, perhaps?) you will have a nice selection to choose from.
It’s not only all the cool gear in these stores that makes them great, but the fact that they help out the community in every way possible. The Greenville store hosts a few trail runs throughout the year and the Banff Mountain Film Festival to fundraise for local trails and groups, including the South Carolina Nature Conservancy.
The store’s location isn’t so bad either. There are literally thousands of options for outdoor fun just a few hours from Greenville, but there are three activities that you can’t miss out on when heading out this spring. The first is the mountain biking right outside of town. If you haven’t biked around Paris Mountain State Park, you are missing out on nearly 15 miles of singletrack just a few minutes from downtown.
Paris Mountain State Park is an ideal post-work biking destination, and is also popular with hikers. Be aware that the park is closed to bikers on Saturdays, so that hikers can have the place to themselves. All of the trails are great and range in difficulty from beginner to advanced. If you are just starting out and looking for easy trails, stay lower on the mountain—the trails here have a nice flow making them more manageable. But, if you are looking for something more advanced, head up to the higher trails and take in the seasonally great views up toward the back of the Blue Ridge.
Another fantastic mountain biking destination right near Greenville is Lake Conestee Nature Park. Part of Greenville County Parks system, this little gem is forever-growing and offers new trails every year. This park is great for beginners and families, as it has minimal elevation gain and not a lot of roots. It also has beautiful forest and lake views, and fun rolling terrain. Half-Moon Outfitters even sponsors a 6k trail race here each year.
If you are a really strong biker. looking for only the best of the best, look no further than the Pisgah Ranger District, a little over an hour from Greenville. For those in the know, the biking at the Pisgah is badass; it is the epicenter of Western Carolina Mountain Biking and is close to Asheville, the ultimate mountain biking destination on the East Coast. The most iconic trail, the Black Mountain Trail, is so popular that people come from all around North America to ride this singletrack wonder. But, with miles of trails to choose from, finding the perfect ride is easy to do in the Pisgah.
Biking isn’t the only amazing outdoor activity to do around Greenville—the rock climbing and bouldering are amazing as well. Your best bet is to head to Rumbling Bald in Chimney Rock State Park. Rumbling Bald is considered to be a mandatory off-season climbing destination, though you need to be aware of closures for peregrine falcons and make sure you have the proper permit for climbing in the state park. The rocks here are buggy and awesome, and the routes vary from simple to difficult, making it the ideal place to work on new problems and build your skills.
Chimney Rock State Park also has some other great climbing areas. Anywhere you look in the Hickory Nut Gorge, you will find massive boulders and spires, just waiting to be climbed. The region has a huge boulder field, so climbers of all levels have a chance to do tons of bouldering. This is undoubtedly one of the best climbing destinations in the south.
Crowders Mountain is another great rock climbing destination that offers fun hiking, just an hour from Greenville. All the climbing is top-rope accessible, giving newer climbers the reward of great views from the tallest point of prominence for 70 miles. Since it’s so close to the city, summer weekends are crowded. But, don’t let that stop you—get up early and enjoy the epic views and fantastic mid- to entry level climbing.
Finally, if you are looking for something a bit slower paced and more family friendly, there are miles of trails to explore extremely close to Greenville. One of the most popular hikes is the Rainbow Falls Trail in Jones Gap State Park. Gaining nearly 1,000 feet in elevation, this 3.9-mile out-and-back trail offers amazing views and fun hiking for all ages.
While Rainbow Falls is great, your absolute best bet for a family-friendly hike is the Raven Cliff Falls in Caesars Head State Park. Raven Cliff is the best hike in the region, and offers a stunning view overlooking a huge valley and gorgeous waterfall. While the overlook trail is just 4.4 miles, you can easily add on mileage by turning this into an 8.8-mile loop. It’s the ideal way to introduce your family and children to hiking while still giving you options to add distance.
Regardless of your outdoor activity preferences, you can’t really go wrong around Greenville. The area’s hiking, biking, and climbing will keep you busy for days. So what are you waiting for? Grab that kid carrier and some water and hit the trails!