The Elevation Experts

Our Outdoor Pursuits team shares nine
nearby hikes worth lacing up for


It’s no secret: one of the many perks of living in the Western Carolinas is the richness of our natural resources. No matter which community at The Cliffs you call home, you’re never more than a stone’s throw from a gorgeous view beneath an ancient arbor, deep within a dappled wood, or on the pinnacle of a mountain.

With so many winding trails to choose from, it’s often easier to tell the experts what you’re hoping to experience and let someone with boots on the ground cherry-pick the perfect path. We asked our Outdoor Pursuits experts—Andrew Lovice (Walnut Cove), Jake Wickiser (Mountain Region), and Kyle Henry (Lake Region)—to share their top recommendations.

Have fun! Don’t forget to tag @cliffsliving in your scenic view pictures on social media.


Ease onto the trail

If you love the great outdoors, but have not-so-great knees—or you’re more interested in enjoying the scenery than burning calories—give these approachable hikes a try.


Gerton, NC

“This is a relatively easy, 2-mile out-and-back trail that journeys up to a beautiful pasture around 4,000 feet. Touted as one of the best views in the greater Asheville area, you can enjoy panoramic views of the surrounding counties and mountains, as well as the occasional curious cow, since this is an actively used pasture in the warmer months.” – Andrew Lovice



Long Creek, SC

“This 4-mile hike in hidden gem Long Creek, South Carolina, takes you down to a big sandy beach on the mighty Chattooga River for one of the best swimming spots in the Upstate! Further down trail, Opossum Creek Falls provides several layers of cascades for one impressive waterfall.” – Kyle Henry



Paris Mountain State Park, SC

“This 4-mile loop trail near Greenville, South Carolina, is a great option for any outdoor enthusiast both new or old, and also for those who may be visiting the area. The trail follows a creek and offers stunning views of cascades and a lake. Though the first mile has some inclines, the rest of the trail is relatively easy. The trail is well-maintained and mostly shaded. However, the trailhead is quite popular, so I’d recommend starting early. Overall, this is a fantastic trail—and the location of Paris Mountain in regard to Greenville is unbelievable. We typically enjoy hiking at Paris Mountain followed by lunch on Main Street in downtown Greenville afterwards.” – Jake Wickiser


Tackle a tough one

These trails do double duty: provide extraordinary perspectives while elevating your heart rate. For those of us who enjoy staying active and consider sweat a badge of honor, the challenges below are calling.


Mills River, NC

“This moderate-advanced hike takes you up to the iconic Mount Pisgah, which can be seen for miles around the Asheville region. Topping out a bit below 6,000 feet, you will be treated to 360-degree views of the Pisgah National Forest, as well as the Shining Rock Wilderness. Just below the hike is the Pisgah Inn, which has food, beverages, and a gift shop to commemorate the visit.” – Andrew Lovice



Nine Times Preserve, SC

“This short but steep 2-mile hike nestled inside Nine Times Preserve provides gorgeous 360-degree views from a massive rock outcropping. The Nine Times Forest was one of the largest intact unprotected forests left in the Upstate. Several years ago, about 560 acres were protected through a broad-based effort, in which The Nature Conservancy, Naturaland Trust, and Upstate Forever actively participated. The hiking area lays at the foot of the Southern Blue Ridge Mountains, in between the rugged mountainous landscape and gentle Piedmont slopes.”  – Kyle Henry



Table Rock State Park, SC

“This 6.9-mile out-and-back trail in northern Pickens County, South Carolina, is a trail that every outdoor enthusiast should experience. It includes over 2,300 feet in elevation gain, uneven rock stairs, boulders, and logs on your way up to the summit. However, the spectacular views at the top are well worth the hard effort. Make sure to pause at don’t-miss spots Carrick Creek Falls and the Governor’s Rock overlook on the way up to the summit. Parking at the trailhead is never an issue with the large parking lot, and there is a large beach area where you are allowed to swim during the summer months. One of our past traditions is to hike the Table Rock Trail and to make our way into a plunge in the lake right when we complete the hike.” – Jake Wickiser


Bring the fam (or Fido!)

If you have kids or grandkids with boundless energy, or dogs who tend to destroy furniture if they’re not tuckered out, finding something outdoors to occupy weekend downtime is a must—and these are your new must-do hikes!


Brevard, NC

“Nestled in the heart of the sweeping DuPont State Forest, this easy 3-mile loop packs many stunning waterfalls into a relatively short distance. It is very popular, which can make it crowded, but the views are well worth it. Because the terrain is easy to navigate, it’s great for bringing families and wowing out-of-town guests.” – Andrew Lovice



Clemson Experimental Forest, SC

“This 4.5-mile loop takes hikers to a forgotten place of the past. The 100-plus miles of trails within the Clemson Experimental Forest, now used for education and recreation, was depleted farmland until the university deeded the land in the early 1950s. Now, the Clemson Experimental Forest is the largest university-owned forest in America! Along this hike you’ll see the beautiful Lake Issaqueena, once used for bombing practice for World War II, the Six Mile River, Lake Hartwell, and so much more.” – Kyle Henry



Jones Gap State Park, SC

“This 4.4-mile out-and-back trail in Jones Gap State Park is one of the most spectacular waterfalls you will witness in the area, with 1,181 feet of elevation gain and a waterfall that stretches over 100 feet in height. The trail starts easily when you enter the trailhead but quickly gets steep as you walk up many stairs. There is a large amount of elevation gain in a short distance. However, the views of the falls are incredible and well worth the strenuous effort to reach. This is a great trail for friends and family, and one of the more popular trails in the region for our furry friends.” – Jake Wickiser


This story was featured in Cliffs Living magazine. To see more stories like this one and learn more about The Cliffs, subscribe here.