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For Scenic Driving at its Very Best, Visit South Carolina's Highway 11

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On: Mon, Aug 18, 2014 at 4:00PM | By: Bill Wilson

For Scenic Driving at its Very Best, Visit South Carolina's Highway 11

When most people think of scenic driving, images of the Blue Ridge Parkway or Route 66 often come to mind. Many of the best spots may go unnoticed, however. A prime example is Scenic Highway 11, tucked into a cozy little corner of South Carolina. This 112-mile route offers some of the best camping, hiking, and picture-taking opportunities in the United States, with plenty of great shopping and dining venues only a short drive away.

Scenic Highway 11, also known as Cherokee Foothills Scenic Highway, parallels a section of I-85 that connects South Carolina and Georgia. It runs through a steep, lightly settled area of the Blue Ridge Mountains, part of the 2000-mile Appalachian mountain chain that stretches from Georgia into southern Canada. Reaching the highway by car is easy, except for the few days out of the year that South Carolina experiences frozen precipitation. Late Spring through Autumn are prime times to visit, though many travelers tour the road even in the coldest winter months.

One of the highway’s best features is its huge variety of state parks, historic sites, and scenic outlooks on or very close to the route. The following are just some examples of the endless things to see and do:

Devil’s Fork State Park– This gorgeous nature preserve is named for the four mountain streams that together feed 7500 acre Lake Jocassee, part of which forms the park itself. There is plenty to do here, including backpacking, fishing, scuba diving, staying in the comfortable, fully furnished lodge, or sleeping under the stars in one of the two camp sites.

Oconee State Park– One of the great things about Scenic Highway 11 is the abundance of lakes, rivers, and streams to enjoy. This is especially true in Oconee State Park, which features several cascading waterfalls and deep, wide swimming holes. Rafting is available in the nearby Chattooga River, and guests can choose from a number of charming rustic cabins.

Table Rock State Park– Known for its spectacular mountain scenery, this park includes some of the most rugged backcountry in the eastern United States. Table Rock is impossible to miss. The highest mountain rises over 3400 feet above the surrounding countryside. It forms the crown jewel of this 3000-acre park. Visitors can hike to the summit, fish in the two nearby lakes, camp, grill, or enjoy accommodations in the magnificent lodge. The park features numerous cultural and educational events throughout the year.

Cowpens National Battlefield– Site of a pivotal battle in the American Revolutionary War, this area is a must-see for anyone interested in history or in America’s rich heritage. The terrain in the park is much easier to traverse than the more mountainous attractions along the highway, making it ideal for older persons or for those with physical limitations. A three-mile loop takes motorists on a tour of the battlefield, and a spacious visitor’s center offers a wealth of books, films, and other media pertaining to the history of the American Revolution.

Food, lodging, and all types of shopping are available in nearby towns like Pickens, Travelers Rest, and Greenville, SC. Be aware that some sections of Scenic Highway 11 are fairly remote. Visitors are advised to bring extra food, water, and blankets or warm clothing in the event of mechanical trouble. Temperatures can become quite cold at night, even in the summer months. For more information on Scenic Highway 11, visit the official website.

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