Its real name is Keowee-Toxaway State Park, but I couldn't pronounce that.
This was our first trip back after the SC state parks reopened, and it was the perfect return to camping. It was a quick, two-hour trip to get back into the swing of this whole "leaving the house" thing. We love going to the Blue Ridge area, but we usually head to the NC region of the mountains. Keowee-Toxaway is in SC, just south of some of our favorite little mountain towns, and it didn't disappoint.
The park itself is rather small. There were only about a dozen RV spots and a handful of tent sites, which made us wonder how we even got a spot on such short notice. It was certainly one of the prettiest parks we've been to, so I have no idea why it wasn't more popular.
We got to our campsite on Friday, and after setting up, we enjoyed some sittin' time under the trees. It's hard to see in the pictures, but the Blue Ridge Mountains were just beyond the tree line. We could see the sun set behind them at night.
For being such a small park, there was plenty to do. We wanted to hike the trails, canoe on the lake, and check out a local brewery, making for one busy Saturday. We got our rest and woke up early to take on the busy day—much to my and Luna's dismay.
It's funny how a map can make a hike seem easy. It's just a squiggly line on a paper; how hard could it be? Well, this little squiggly line turned out to be around a six-mile hike through some of the hills (small mountains) in the park. According to Rose's fancy watch, we took 16,000 steps and climbed an equivalent of 100 flights of stairs. It was hard but worth it.
The trail wound its way through the woods, revealing streams, waterfalls, and even a natural bridge. Luckily, there was plenty of shade for me and Lunabear. Around the halfway mark of the trail, we found the lake. The water was a brilliant blue color and was clearer than just about any lake water I've ever seen. We got to climb up onto an outcropping to see a birds-eye view of the incredible scenery. If I wasn't sweating so badly, it would have been perfect!
The shore was a little steep for any swimming, so we didn't get to cool off just yet. After a quick stop to enjoy the scenery, we pushed on back toward the campsite and the rest of our busy day. But before we got back to the camper, we found a cute little swimming hole complete with waterfall. Luna definitely enjoyed the chance to cool off, and so did we.
With the pups all tuckered out, Rose and I decided to head out in the canoe. There was a tiny launch point in the park that only had parking for about eight cars. When we got back from our hike, the road to the lake was closed because the lot was at capacity. The friendly park ranger told us we could walk down to check it out, but neglected to mention it was about a half-mile walk down a 15% grade. After our six-mile hike, our legs weren't too happy about it.
The lake was beautiful down below, but the parking lot was certainly packed. There was a family who decided it was a good idea to set up a picnic right in the canoe launch area, which was very polite of them. Once we got back to the top of Everest (at least that's what it felt like) the park ranger told us about some other nearby boat ramps. We really wanted to go out, so we looked a few up on Google and headed out. Luckily, once we pulled out of the campground with the truck, some parking spaces had opened up, and we were able to go down to the lake. We loaded the cooler into the canoe and set off to sea.
After some paddling, we found the perfect sandy spot for some swimming. We beached the canoe and jumped in. The water was clear and refreshing. If I hadn't already told you we were in South Carolina, it wouldn't be hard to believe it was Maine.
The forecast was calling for rain all weekend, and up until this point, there wasn't a cloud in the sky. But all of a sudden, the sky got dark and drops started to fall. All the boats in the area quickly disappeared. We loaded up the canoe and started making our way back to the truck. There's something calming about a quiet lake during a rainstorm.
Back at the trailer, we were getting ready for the third adventure of the day: the brewery. Still tired from our hike and swim, everyone loaded into the truck and into town we went.
It was still drizzling when we got to the brewery and, because of social distancing, there were signs that said we couldn't sit inside (even though there were definitely people sitting in there). We got our beer and sat outside at a folding table next to the most delicious-smelling BBQ food truck, so we just made the best of the situation.
As we were enjoying our beer and BBQ, we saw some instruments making their way onto the little stage. One of the local bluegrass bands was set to play! We loved the little brewery so much that we got a growler of beer to enjoy at home.
On our way back to the campsite, we picked up a bundle of firewood to finish out our trip in style, but the weather had other plans. The minute we unwrapped the plastic and put the fire in the pit, it started to rain again. We all fled to the safety of the trailer and finished out the night with the usual festivities (which totally wasn't beer because it's not allowed *winky face).
Keowee-Toxaway was the perfect way to get back to adventuring!
He likes pizza.