For my birthday this year Melanie and I wanted to do something more special. I was tasked with coming up with a plan even better than dinner out and a cupcake with a candle. We settled on two short trips. One would be to Islands of Adventure down in Orlando (the best theme park we’ve ever been to) because they’ve opened a new Harry Potter section. The second would be to Huntsville to see the science and Star Wars display at the Rocket Center.
I’m not always the quickest, but sometime later I realized that we would have several additional days free in Melanie’s work schedule as a result of all this travel. We couldn’t just waste that precious time. It occurred to me that the weather should be getting nice for hiking and we might just catch some leaves changing color.
The very best fall leaves we’ve ever seen was on a trip to South Carolina’s high point several years ago. The rainfall that year, the temperature change and the clear sunny day all worked together to make something almost painfully beautiful. I think of Bob Ross paintings as super saturated but I don’t think even he could have captured the brilliant colors we saw. As we would ride up the steep slopes of the foothills we’d see electric blue skies and then be suddenly plunged into windshield-filling riots of oranges, yellows and reds as we crested then descended. Literally windshield filling. Road. Some tree trunks. LOTS of leaves. It could be so overwhelming that your brain couldn’t process what you were looking at immediately. I guess it was more than a little bit like camouflage. The normal shapes of things were broken up flattening the landscape into one mash of color. Like a roller coaster ride, it did take my breath away more than once.
Jump forward to mid October of this year and Melanie and I are hoping for a repeat performance. Heck, even a quiet echo of that previous trip would be great. A quick internet search for fall foliage cross referenced to Google Maps showed that our quickest, easiest best bet was South Carolina again. The online guides recommended Caesar’s Head State Park as a great place to see leaves, and what’s this, they have waterfalls too! Bright idea #2. Even if we don’t see cool leaves we can see some cool waterfalls. Our trip to Virgin Falls last year taught me that some of the falls in this general area are flowing nicely at this time of year. We couldn’t lose now.
Unfortunately, Casear’s Head doesn’t have any drive-up camping. I knew that we were going to want to camp to save money. I also knew that we were not going to want to backpack and if at all possible we were going to want a hot shower. I know, I’m a baby.
Technology is creeping in to the various park systems. In SC you can now not only check out the different services offered but actually view a map of every individual campsite with details about it including if it is reserved and for which days. This made it easy to find a state park close by that met our needs.
We chose Table Rock State Park and it was great. It is a very well-maintained park. Nice and clean. It’s a great setting with a small lake and a big ol’ rock outcropping (Table Rock). They have hike-in camping (some on the lake looked really nice), drive-up camping, RV stations and cabins (which we didn’t see). We stayed in the area designated “Loop B” for $45.73 for two nights. It was set up with both primitive and RV spots. It had a few bathhouses sprinkled throughout the area. They had been remodeled sometime very recently with fresh paint and new tile. There was no mold or stink. Everything was very clean. The showers bordered on too hot. Plenty of bear-proof trash cans in the camping area. Nice and shady. Overall, I’d say it is as nice as any other stop n’ drop campsite I’ve ever used.
Please note: When reserving the individual sites you will be presented with slope information for some locations. If it says that it isn’t flat, that is something to consider. None are sheer cliff faces but if you are in a tent instead of a self-leveling RV, it is something to keep in mind if you don’t want all your blood rushing to your head or feet while you sleep.
I wish I could tell you more about this park because it seems like a nice place to explore. There were many folks there just hanging out watching football and enjoying the setting. We were on a mission to see waterfalls though and this park just didn’t deliver in that area.