A ‘Heady’ View

You Can See for Miles and Miles –
The view from Blue Ridge Escarpment at Caesars Head.

Up in northern Greenville County, you’ll find one of the Blue Ridge Escarpment’s more prominent landmarks, Caesars Head. Some believe this rock outcropping resembles the Roman Emperor, Caesar, thus its name, though some believe the landmark took its name from an early pioneer’s dog. Regardless of its origin, Caesars Head surveys a kingdom of stunning views, and the landmark’s name gives Caesars Head State Park its identify as well.

Caesars Head, composed of durable granitic gneiss more than 400 million years old, connects to Jones Gap State Park in the Mountain Bridge Wilderness Area, an 11,000-acre area of pristine southern mountain forest. Driving through the Mountain Bridge Wilderness Area you’ll encounter curves aplenty and scenic overlooks. Highway 276, a road favored by mountain lovers, delights travelers between Brevard, N.C., and Pumpkintown. Its hairpin turns and steep grades challenge drivers who motor up 3,208 feet to Caesars Head State Park. Come autumn colors pull hard at leaf worshipers and Highway 276 sees its share of fall foliage and sightseers.

Atop Caesars Head you stand upon the Blue Ridge Escarpment 3,266 feet above sea level. From here you can see Georgia and North Carolina. The panoramic view includes Paris Mountain near Greenville. In the fall people come to watch hawks wheeling and spiraling — a process called “kettling” — as they migrate to Central and South America for the winter. You, too, can migrate from here. Day hike to one of eastern United State’s highest and beautiful falls: Raven Cliff Falls, near Caesar’s Head, plummeting some 420 feet. Brave? Cross its swinging footbridge Indiana Jones style. Shaky-step your way across and brag about it later.

A drive up to Caesars Head and its namesake park never disappoints. There’s much to do: bird watching, especially autumn’s hawks, camping, fishing, and waterfalls to see. Keep an eye out for black bear. Make the trip in autumn and you can see fall color aplenty. Make the drive in summer and enjoy the cooler air. It’s a good place to be active. Over 50 miles of hiking trails will test your legs. Primitive camping is available here too. Pack a picnic basket and enjoy eating at one of the picnic tables and shelters. Be sure to make the tight descent through cracked rock walls known as the “Devil’s Kitchen.”

Be sure to put the Visitor Center on your schedule. It houses exhibits of area attractions, a relief map of the Mountain Bridge trail system, hawk displays and gift and souvenir items. It’s open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., daily during daylight saving time. It’s closed on Thanksgiving and Christmas Day.

If You Go …

Caesars Head State Park

8155 Greer Highway

Cleveland, S.C. 29635

864-836-6115

128 miles, a 2 hour and 20 minute drive.

• From Greenville: Take Hwy. 276 W. for about 30 mi. Park is located at the top of the mountain right off the Hwy.

• Open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. during daylight savings time.

• Free Admission

www.southcarolinaparks.com/caesarshead/introduction.aspx

Learn more about Tom Poland, a Southern writer, and his work at www.tompoland.net. Email day-trip ideas to him at [email protected]