Looking for the best fall foliage views in SC? Here are some ideas and surprising suggestions

This weekend will be the start of the fall foliage season in northwestern South Carolina, according to the website smokymountains.com.

The website says the leaves will be near peak or at peak by Oct. 21 in most of the state. By Nov. 14, leaf season will be over. The website cautions the map is what is expected. Temperature and rainfall may alter the actual timing, South Carolina Public Radio said in a story about leaf season.

Here are some suggestions of where to see summer turn to fall in South Carolina. Spoiler alert: perhaps not surprisingly six on the list are in the Upstate.

Cherokee Foothills Scenic Byway

Many people consider Cherokee Foothills Scenic Byway, the ultimate place to see fall beauty. It’s also No. 1 on many ‘best of’ lists for South Carolina’s most scenic road.

It’s “a road tripper’s drive,” Thrillist said in its story on most scenic drives.

The Foothills highway, technically Highway 11, is about 120 miles and goes from Lake Hartwell near Fairplay to Gaffney across northwestern South Carolina, hugging the base of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

The website Southern Trippers, which is dedicated to vacation planning in the South, mentioned it first on its list of 10 best places to see fall in South Carolina. The unranked list also includes other areas off Highway 11, including Table Rock State Park and Mountain Bridge Wilderness.

Table Rock has two lakes and 12 miles of hiking trails.

“There is plenty to explore in this stunning state park,” the website said, suggesting people hike the Table Rock Trail to the top of Table Rock Mountain.

“The reward is stunning view of the surrounding mountains and reservoir below with vibrant fall colors in every direction,” Southern Trippers said.

Mountain Bridge Wilderness Area is located in northwestern South Carolina and covers 10,000 acres.

“It connects Jones Gap State Park to Caesars Head State Park and offers ample hiking opportunities and some of the most scenic views in the south,” Southern Trippers said.

Waterfalls abound, including Raven Cliffs Falls, Rainbow Falls and Falls Creek Falls. And then there is Symmes Chapel at Pretty Place, an open-air sanctuary, at the YMCA Camp that overlooks miles and miles of rolling hills.


What is a ‘best of’ list with mentioning Greenville. The city has been so many lists it’s hard to count them all. Southern Trippers said Falls Park on the Reedy is “a park so scenic, you will forget you’re in the center of town.”

“Fall in love with Greenville at a festival that is actually called Fall for Greenville,” the website said. From Oct. 13-16, the festival along Greenville’s Main Street centers around food and drink, but also includes entertainment on six stages by more than 80 performers.

Issaqueena Falls

Southern Trippers says, “This incredible 200-foot cascade is steeped in legends and surrounded by stunning natural scenery.”

The Upcountry History Museum says many versions of the Isaqueena story exist.

“Issaqueena, whose name likely comes from the Choctaw word “isi-okhina” which means “deer creek,” was a young Native American woman living in what is now Pickens County,” the museum says on its website.

She fell in love with a white settler and warned him of an attack her tribe was planning.

“When her tribe learned of her betrayal they swore to hunt her down,” the museum said. “They chased her to what is now Issaqueena Falls where she pretended to plunge to her death, but actually hid on a ledge under the fall.”


Home to Clemson University, Clemson “is surrounded by picturesque lakes, beautiful natural scenery and peaceful woodlands,” Southern Trippers says.

They list South Carolina Botanical Garden, Abernathy Waterfront Park, Twelve Mile Recreation Area and Lake Keowee as places to see, as well as Fort Hill Plantation, Ashtabula Historic House, Hanover House and Clemson Area African American Museum.

Lake Jocassee

While Lake Jocassee’s clear waters get plenty of visitors in the summer, Southern Trippers says fall is best “when the trees surrounding the lake erupt in a stunning show of red and gold.”

Kayaking, paddle boarding, scuba diving and cruising on a boat are ways to see the many waterfalls around the lake.

“Alternatively, you can enjoy views of the lake and some of the best fall foliage in South Carolina without even leaving your car,” the website says. “Make the 10-mile drive up to Jumping Off Rock and enjoy unobstructed views of Lake Jocassee and the foliage-covered mountains.

Fort Mill

Just outside Charlotte, Fort Mill is surrounded by rivers and lakes and has many hiking trails.

“Take a stroll down the Riverwalk along the Catawba River, stopping to admire the view of the railroad bridge that crosses high above the river and reading the interesting historical markers along the way,” Southern Trippers says.

Kings Mountain

Home to National Military Park, Kings Mountain is the site of a Revolutionary War battle that changed the course of the war. The park tells the story of that Oct. 7, 1780 battle.

There is also Kings Mountain Living History Farm, a replica of an 1800s farm replete with animals and demonstrations.

Boone Hall Plantation

Boone Hall Plantation in Mount Pleasant is “one of the oldest and most-visited plantations in the South,” Southern Tripper said.

At one time, 85 slaves worked on the property and many of their brick houses from 1790 to 1810 remain standing on Slave Street. The plantation home is not the original but was built in 1936.

One of the most-talked about features is the Avenue of Oaks, believed to be planted along the entrance way in 1743.

Expect to find a pumpkin patch, 8-acre corn maze, fall-themed activities and fright nights, which open this weekend.

Regular admission to the plantation is $28 per person.