Pinnacle Mountain (4-23-16)
Pinnacle Mountain is one of the two high peaks contained within the 3,083-acre Table Rock State Park in the Upstate of South Carolina. Being that the state park isn't named for Pinnacle Mountain you can immediately tell though its not the more popular of the two summits. It is, however, the highest of the two. In fact Pinnacle Mountain, at 3,425-feet, is the highest peak entirely within South Carolina (Sassafras Mountain, SC's official highest point at 3,554,' is on the border with North Carolina). It's a full 300+ feet higher than its much more popular neighbor, Table Rock. Table Rock, though, has expansive high elevation cliffs. Pinnacle has a entirely wooded summit and only a small overlook on its southern flank (known as Bald Knob). So while hundreds upon hundreds of pairs of feet crowd the route up to Table Rock, a relatively small number of people in comparison make the trek up and over Pinnacle.
I had visited Table Rock State Park previously to climb its namesake peak. Upon completion of that hike I immediately decided I needed to visit Pinnacle as well and had honest intentions of doing the climb soon after. Well, before I knew it three years had passed and I still hadn't climbed it. As the green wave of spring once again started to wash up the mountain ridge from South Carolina, I decided I could wait no longer. I had had an incredible experience climbing Table Rock around the same time in 2013 so I figured why not make my second foray into the park at the same time of year? So, three years later than I planned I once again found myself at the trailhead alongside Pinnacle Lake.
Pinnacle Mountain is a tough hike, I'll say that right up front. At a shade over 9-miles round-trip and requiring 2,500-feet of vertical to be climbed, this hike will test your lungs and legs. What you get to experience for all this effort is a pleasant walk in the woods, albeit with very few views, and a couple small waterfalls. This might not seem like a big pay-off considering the difficulty but that's up to you to decide if you decide to go. I thoroughly enjoyed it (with the exception of the crowds on the Table Rock and Carrick Creek Trails). The trails in this park are fabulously maintained and, if you go at the time of year I did you'll find a fantastic variety of wildflowers along the way to help spice things up a bit.
Two possible routes will take you to the summit of Pinnacle Mountain, both of which begin at the Nature Center near Pinnacle Lake. From the Nature Center you can either head directly for the summit via the Pinnacle Mountain Trail, or take a more round-about way via the Table Rock and Ridge Trails. Whichever way you go you choose to go you can combine all three trails to retrace the loop I did on this trip. I chose to ascend via the Table Rock and Ridge Trails because (a) they provide a somewhat easier ascent than the brutally steep Pinnacle Mountain Trail and (b) it would save the two big natural highlights, Bald Knob and Mill Creek Falls, until the last half of the hike.
So, without further adieu, I present my little day trip up and over Pinnacle Mountain...as always ENJOY!!!
Trailhead GPS Coordinates: 35.031928, -82.700229
Mileage Hiked: 9.3 miles Hike Duration: 4:30
Trailhead Temp: 65'F Trail Traffic: 100+ people
Min. Elevation: 1,150' Max. Elevation: 3,425'
Total Vertical Gain: 2,500' Avg. Elevation Gain / Mile: 267'
Trails Used (blaze Color): Carrick Creek (green), Mill Creek Falls (unblazed), Pinnacle Mountain (yellow), Ridge (orange), Table Rock (red)