HomeParentingVisit Sassafras Mountain, the Highest Point in South Carolina!
Visit Sassafras Mountain, the Highest Point in South Carolina!
June 8, 2022
Ready for a FREE adventure? Head to the summit of South Carolina’s Sassafras Mountain where an observation tower awaits. From the tower, you’ll be able to see across the mountains of North Carolina, Georgia, and even into Tennessee. local mom, Liene, has all the details so you can plan this fun, FREE, adventure with your family!
Sassafras Mountain: elevation 3,553’. It’s the highest point in the state of South Carolina, and definitely a spot to keep in mind as you’re planning summer adventures! The peak straddles not only the line between North and South Carolina, but the Eastern Continental Divide; from its summit four states are visible on a clear day. Still, this scenic viewpoint is one of the most easily accessed “highest points” in the US, perfect for a family day trip from Greenville.
Sassafras Mountain’s New Observation Tower
It wasn’t always accessible. Although long the site of a fire lookout tower, it was only in the 1990s that the SC DNR acquired the acreage of what is now known as the Jocassee Gorges. At that time the last 4.5 miles of road to the summit were paved, a parking lot was installed, and in 2010, three acres of trees were cleared from the summit, revealing the views that can be seen today. The breakthrough came when the viewing plaza at the top of Sassafras Mountain was completed, including picnic tables, several viewing platforms, a central viewing tower, multiple trails, educational signage, and restrooms.
Where is Sassafras Mountain?
Sassafras Mountain is just a short detour off scenic Highway 11, the road that travels along the base of the Blue Ridge Escarpment. From Pickens, it’s 16 miles north on US 178 to Rocky Bottom, where after making a right turn (east) on F. Van Clayton Memorial Highway it’s about 5 miles to the end of the road (just short of the summit). Plenty of parking, as well as convenient restrooms, make it an easy spot to explore with kids, and temperatures tend to be about 10˚ cooler than in Greenville, convenient on a hot summer day. Combine Sassafras with any of the trails nearby and make a day of it.
1391 F Van Clayton Memorial Hwy, Sunset, SC 29685
Sassafras Mountain Things to See
from the summit stretch to the Highlands in North Carolina, Mount Pisgah on the
Blue Ridge Parkway, the Chattooga Ridge near Walhalla, and all the way to
Georgia & (supposedly) Tennessee (I say supposedly because although it was
easy to pick out the Georgia range, I wasn’t sure if it was the Smoky Mountains
in TN we were looking at in the distance). Pack a picnic, bring binoculars, and
don’t forget your camera!
fact, this is the separation point for three distinct watersheds: two into the
Atlantic and one into the Gulf. Water draining from the east side of the
mountain flows into the South Saluda, then on to the Broad River, the Congaree
and then into the Santee-Cooper Lakes, ending up in the Atlantic. Water from
the south side of the mountain drains into Eastatoe Creek, running through Lake
Keowee and Lake Hartwell down to the Savannah River and also into the Atlantic.
Water from the north and west side of the mountain flows into the French Broad,
making its way north through Asheville and Knoxville into the Tennessee River,
then the Ohio River and finally the Mississippi (all the way up to Cairo, IL!)
before flowing back down south into the Gulf of Mexico.
Although Sassafras is the tallest mountain in the state, a portion of it is actually in North Carolina. While there, check out the markers for the state line, just a short distance west on a rock outcrop. Two states for the price of one… and that price is $0, as there is no admission to the park.
In a list of each state’s highest peak, Sassafras Summit ranks 29th, while neighboring North Carolina’s Mount Mitchell comes in 16th at 6,684’, and Georgia’s Brasstown Bald 25th at 4,784’. Although nearby Tennessee also has a higher peak (Clingmans Dome, 17th at 6,643’), at least we’ve got Florida beat – at 345’ Britton Hill comes in dead last, even after the District of Columbia… However, this lower ranking shouldn’t stop you from making the 60-minute drive from Greenville this summer. The drive is scenic, the views are unbeatable, and the fresh mountain air will inspire and invigorate you to climb more peaks!