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Upstate Trail Journal: Paris Mountain

Contributed by Austin Hays

A stone tower built by the Civilian Conservation Corps stands on Paris Mountain’s Sulphur Springs Trail.

Geographically, Paris Mountain State Park does all it can to stand out.
The eponymous peak is classified by geologists as a “monadnock,” or a mountain in a relatively flat area not connected to any range. The peak is easily viewed from metropolitan Greenville, and is even easier to get to.
Unlike many of its brethren in the foothills, Paris Mountain State Park is not a far cry from civilization, and the presence of cell towers at the summit assures good reception throughout the park grounds.
Even so, once you cross through the gates, there’s no escaping the feelings of tranquility and separation that the South Carolina State Park system provides.
Paris Mountain’s modern history dates back to the turn of the century when several dams and artificial lakes were constructed on the property by the area water system. Various attempts were made to build resorts and retreats over the next few decades before the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) stepped in in the 1930s and built some permanent structures on the property.
The city of Greenville officially purchased the property in 1935 and has since then maintained the site’s history as well as its natural charm.
Much of the structures built by the CCC are still prominent today, including the stone dams and the old bathhouse on the park’s main lake, which now serves as a visitor’s center.
As you hike the trails or drive up the park’s main road, examine the signage for a deeper look at the history of the park and its individual components.
The park has an extensive trail system 15 miles in length, with parking available at most major trailheads.
Hikers of all skill levels can find their match on site, from the tranquil stroll around Lake Placid to the increasingly strenuous Sulphur Springs trail. The northern section of the park holds several backcountry campsites that can be reserved in advance, but if you don’t want to rough it, there are several drive-in campsites with electricity and water towards the front entrance of the park.
Most of the trails at the park are open to mountain biking on all days except Saturdays. Further into the spring canoes, kayaks and pedal boats are available for rent on Lake Placid, which is also open for swimming starting in June.
As with any state park, you should take a moment to soak in the freshness and enjoy the plentiful flora and fauna.
Paris Mountain stands out not only for its geographic isolation, but for its extensive history and plentiful available activities. If you’re looking for a quick but fulfilling getaway for a weekend or an afternoon, this park will have something for you.

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