The peaks: Sassafras Mountain, tallest peak in South Carolina
Total distance: 5(ish) miles
After climbing Mount Marcy (the highest peak in New York state), I decided I would make it my goal to climb the highest peak in every state. When Jake and I were in western North Carolina over the holidays this year, we set our sights on Sassafrass Mountain, the highest peak in South Carolina.
You can access Sassafras by the Foothills Trail, but you can also literally drive to the top. Since we had decided to hike all 50 peaks, we wanted to add some sort of hiking element to this. We parked at a trailhead where we knew we could get about 4-5 miles in out and back. The trailhead was decently easy to find and well-marked, although with basic white, non-reflective blazes–so forget doing this trail in the dark. Along the way we ran into several groups that were spending their holiday hiking the entirety of the Foothills Trail.
There was not a single decent view to be had the entire way. It was in the middle of winter, but because it hadn’t snowed in the area lately it felt much more like a fall hike. There’s an observation tower being built on the top of Sassafras which should wield some pretty great views once it’s completed, but because of this a portion of the Foothills trail was blocked off, so we had to walk on the road the remaining 3/4 mile to the top. This also meant that the summit was blocked off–leaving the official marker on the other side of a chain link fence.
There was a nice observation deck slightly lower, though, which had nice views.
After making a hot lunch on top of the mountain, during which I ruined my nice Buff (I tried to use it as a potholder and it’s polyester, not wool as I had thought), we headed back down. All in all, it took us about 4 hours total.
I wouldn’t really recommend going up Sassafrass this way to anyone else. If you don’t care about hiking to the top of every peak, I’d suggest driving. I hear that there’s a 16-mile out and back that has some ruins and a couple of scenic views along the way, but I can’t speak to it. Oh well, learning experience–two down, 48 to go!
How we got there: We had to drive to this hike. We were already on Christmas vacation with my family in the mountains of NC and had rented a car and driven up from Florida a few days before.
Where we stayed: We stayed at a hotel in Brevard, NC around 3o minutes away, where my family lives.