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The Northwest Corner

By Tom Poland
web posted July 31, 2015

LIFE DOWN SOUTH – It’s hot and it’s dry. While the beach grabs a lot of summer headlines the cool, waterfall-rich Northwest Corner pleases many as a destination, especially when the flatlands sizzle. A pleasant drive upstate will take you over 1,000 feet above seal level to much cooler air, not to mention spectacular views. Strike out for the mountains. Here are six other reasons to drive to the Northwest Corner.

The Cove Forest
Nowhere else in the United States will you find as much tree and plant diversity as you will in a southern mountain cove forest. Green and serene, South Carolina’s bowl-shaped valleys are damp and rich with nutrients. The resultant profusion of plants supports birds, amphibians, and mammals. There’s no need to go to the tropics. Drive to the mountains above Walhalla to see green tropical splendor.

Sunshine in a Jar
The beehive—among the world’s most efficient factories—converts alpine nectar to honey. Along Highway 11 bees make honey from sourwood blossoms, blackberry vines, trees, and flowers. Stop by a roadside stand along the Cherokee Scenic Foothills Highway and get a jar of mountain sunshine.

Ram Cat Alley, Seneca
Make the scene Thursday evenings at Ram Cat Alley, a place whose identity began with the cats congregating at the 1908 Fred Hopkins Meat Market. So many cats frequented the alley someone said, “You couldn’t ram another cat into the alley.” Mid-1990’s revitalization took an alleyway of pool halls, bars, and meat markets and turned it into a pedestrian-popular place of boutique shops and restaurants. On Thursdays, restaurants and the city set up tables for “Jazz On the Alley.” Dine out in the mountain air and enjoy mountain music that’s a bit sophisticated.

Majestic Falls
Make the hike to Cove Falls. It’s a challenging journey but well worth it. You’ll find other falls too such as Issaquena Falls just below Stumphouse Mountain. Other great falls are to be seen such as Raven Cliff Falls near Caesars Head and Whitewater Falls where the North Carolina-South Carolina state line passes between the upper and lower falls. Upper Whitewater Falls, near Cashiers, North Carolina, drops over 411 feet, Lower Whitewater Falls, located just across the line in South Carolina, drops another 400 feet making the combined falls the highest falls east of the Rocky Mountains.

The Foothills Trail
For the hardy, hiking is great in the Northwest Corner. Along the Blue Ridge Escarpment trails take hikers back to simpler times when pioneers made their way through mountain forests. Then as now distant views of horizons provided a barometer of how the trails thread through terrain high enough to be moistened by cloud vapors.

South Carolina’s Rooftop
Want to go even higher? Atop Sassafras Mountain—Carolina’s rooftop—you can look over a rippling green land and smoky blue hills. As night draws nigh wine, yellow, orange, and cinnamon hues prevail until shadows reign supreme. (Note: Pinnacle Mountain, the highest mountain within South Carolina, is in Table Rock State Park.)
A trip to the Northwest Corner is sure to cool things off. Plan an overnight stay. From rustic lodges, to state parks and bed and breakfasts, you’ll find beautiful accommodations. Make it an adventure. Take a good pair of binoculars, maps, and beat the heat in the green, rolling Northwest Corner.

If You Go …
Upcountry South Carolina

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