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Clemson’s top outdoor spots from a scenic mountain to a local beach

Corey Glenn // Asst. News Editor

The Dikes at Clemson offer some of the best views of campus and welcome thousands of visitors every year. 

Nestled by the shores of Lake Hartwell and in the shadow of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Clemson is home to some incredible spots in nature. Here are some of the top outdoor spaces that are well-known to Clemson students: 

The Dikes

Whether going for a morning run or catching a Lake Hartwell sunset with your friends, Clemson’s Dikes are a standout place to look at the campus or the lake.

Built initially to stop Lake Hartwell from flooding Memorial Stadium and other parts of campus, these earthen structures now provide nearly two miles of unbroken lakefront trails for running and walking.

The Dikes are also popular for other activities involving steep slopes, including sledding on various improvised contraptions when it snows.

Y Beach

Y Beach is the best place for Clemson students to get in the water. Just across Lake Hartwell from the main campus, Y Beach, now called the Snow Family Outdoor Fitness and Wellness Complex, features all sorts of ways into the water, including free kayak rentals and the sandy beach. 

Also, check out the Andy Quattlebaum Outdoor Education Center, which can set you up for any outdoor adventure you desire for a marginal cost. Or you can just relax and do homework by the lake.

The Experimental Forest

The jewel of the local outdoors scene is the Clemson Experimental Forest. The forest is truly expansive, extending both north and south of campus.

The most popular area is around Issaqueena Lake, with famous mountain bike and hiking trails, including many hidden treasures such as spring houses, picnic shelters and waterfalls.

The lake is also a favorite of local fishermen who want a quieter, smaller experience than Lake Hartwell.

Sassafras Mountain

If endless views are what you crave, it’s impossible to beat South Carolina’s highest peak, Sassafras Mountain.

It’s just under an hour’s drive from campus to the view tower straddling the North Carolina line; the tower offers unobstructed views of the Jocassee Gorges, the Blue Ridge Mountains, Lakes Hartwell, Keowee, and Jocassee and even the Blue Ridge Parkway up on the Great Balsam Mountains. On a clear day, you can make out the High Rises on campus if you’re eagle-eyed.

Be sure to stop by nearby Twin Falls Trail and Big Rock Mountain if you’re looking for a bit more of a hike in the mountains.

Chattooga River

If you’re looking for a mountain hideaway, take a trip to the Chattooga River. 

Just 45 minutes west of campus on the Georgia border, this National Wild and Scenic River starred in the movie “Deliverance” and has remained a favorite spot for generations.

The river offers many spectacular opportunities, including trout fishing and whitewater for rafting and kayaking. Its many trails are beloved by backpackers, and its cold, clear swimming holes draw day trippers for hours.

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Corey Glenn
Corey Glenn, Asst. News Editor
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