It had been a while since we last visited our favorite camping state. Between going up north and a quick trip to test the truck, we missed good ol' South Carolina. It was time to go back! This time, we went to Oconee State Park for a quick mountain retreat—and to hit a state park we hadn't been to yet.
It might have been December, but you'd never know it looking at the weather. The thermometer was in the low 70s when we pulled out of the driveway. Luna even had the window down, enjoying the nice air (and the leg room in the Mega Cab limo). I just wish she'd ride like that... I've always wanted a puppy to stick its head out the window while I was driving. She's too stubborn to give us what we want, though.
Luckily for us, the weather stayed nice for the entire trip. Even though we were up in the mountains, we were able to hike in short sleeves!
There was so much to do in the area—as long as you like being outside. There were so many hikes, waterfalls, and sweeping mountain views, it was difficult to figure out what to do.
We were only there for the weekend, so Saturday was our only full day. We decided we were going to hike a nearby cave first, hit a waterfall hike second, then go down to the cute town for some lunch before heading back to the campground to relax by a fire for the evening. Ready, set, go!
The cave was super cool. It's called Stumphouse Tunnel, and it was completely dug with hand tools during the Civil War. It was supposed to be a railroad line for faster passage between Georgia and South Carolina, instead of going over or around the giant mountains.
The state allotted a million dollars for the project, and once it ran out, all work stopped. The tunnel was never completed, but that doesn't mean it wasn't fun.
Only a quarter-mile of the tunnel is open to the public. Apparently, the part that's not open to the public is now basically a bat sanctuary, which is cool too! There weren't any lights inside the tunnel, so it was nice and creepy to walk the whole way back. Definitely a unique experience.
There was also a waterfall at the bottom of the tunnel hill, so we went and took a look at that, too.
The other waterfall hike we wanted to do was way up the mountain. Of course, we had no service, so it was hard to figure out where we were going. We were just following the signs.
Well, the problem with following signs is that sometimes the signs stop... We had to drive to find a spot where we had service to get back on track with Google. Unfortunately, that didn't work either. Google took us to a long, bumpy dirt road that went way back into the mountain. According to the map, we were still about 8 miles from the waterfall. No thanks...
We decided to head back down the mountain to see what else we could find. Wouldn't you know it that there was another waterfall hike right across the road from the Stumphouse Tunnel! At least it was a pretty drive—albeit unnecessary.
This waterfall hike was three miles each way. It was almost lunch and we hadn't eaten yet, but we figured it'd be a good way to earn our beers. There's nothing better than a nice lunch after a big hike, so we hit the trail.
The hike was pretty. It curved and weaved around the mountainside and ended at a beautiful waterfall nestled into the hill. The way the water dripped off the moss made it look like icicles. I mean, it was December!
After hiking six miles round-trip, we were ready for lunch. There was a burger place in the little town at the bottom of the mountain that sounded good, so down the hill we went.
When we got to the town, everything was closed! Apparently, the entire town shuts down at 2pm. Since we decided to do the hike at noon instead of go get lunch, it was now just slightly after 2, naturally... We wandered around the town, stomachs growling, looking in the little shops but not able to find any food options.
I did, however, get to snap a picture with SantaFoot.
We did a quick Google search and found a brewery back up the mountain a ways. We hoped in ol' Eugene and back up the hill we went.
The map told us to turn into this community with really nice houses and a golf course. It seemed a little strange to have a brewery there, but who were we to argue with all-knowing Google? We pulled into the parking lot to what seemed like a golf pro shop, with absolutely no signs of a brewery.
After a couple more quick Googles, it seems like the brewery shut down earlier in the year and hadn't bothered to update their website or Google listing.... We were left sitting in the parking lot, hungry, yet again.
We didn't even bother to find another spot. We were so hungry that we ran into an Ingles supermarket on the way back to the campground to pick up a few sandwiches and snacks.
Pro tip: Don't go into a supermarket hungry because you'll buy EVERYTHING. And that's exactly what we did.
We grabbed some firewood on the way back into the campground, sat by the fire, and stuffed our faces after hiking all day without any food. All in all, a good day!
The campground was super quiet. We were one of maybe a handful of campers, which was surprising considering the lightshow going on.
Around Christmas, Oconee State Park closes down an entire loop of the campground and makes a drive-though light show! Rose, Luna, and I did a walking tour through the lights to close out the trip.
We might have been hungry for some of it, but Oconee State Park treated us well. Between the mountains, waterfalls, views, and lightshow, it was a trip we won't soon forget. Maybe it'll have to turn into a holiday tradition!
He likes pizza.