Ride to the top of Sassafras Mountain, SC

One Sunday in October, hubby and I decided to take an afternoon ride in his Camaro, which I’ve named “The Red Lady”. You’ll see her (and him) a little better later in this story but let me just tell you now, they’re both gorgeous! (big smile)

We heard from the internet install-guy that we lived only about 20 minutes away from the mountains, and up until this point, I’d only caught glimpses of the blue mountain ridges beyond the golden trees on my way to and from the grocery or drug store.

Oh where, oh where were the mountains?

I wanted to see some daggum mountains, thank you very much and please, oh please, oh please!!

Hubby didn’t know the pains in my heart directing my GPS that Sunday afternoon after church. He just thought we were going to a town about 20 minutes north. But as I saw it on the map, if we only went another 15 more minutes we could be at the highest point in South Carolina, Sassafras Mountain.

GPS, ready-set-and go. And we went.

(I filled hubby in on my plan about 15 minutes into the drive by letting him know that if we drove just a little further we’d really have a sight to see – and I think it was that unusual feat plus the pleading in my voice that made him oblige his sneaky wife and the GPS-lady’s directions coming out of her phone every few miles or so.)

The leaves had started to change but were not yet at peak – as I have discovered now that we’re in mid-November. I think the Upstate trees color in the most beautiful way – the prettiest I’ve ever seen so far.

Church at Pumpkintown crossroads
Church at Pumpkintown crossroads

We passed this church at this crossroads (which takes you to Pumpkintown, SC, if you turn right), and this is where I saw the first real unobstructed view of those rumored mountains.

We continued on the highway until we found the turn-off to Sassafras, a two-lane road that wound itself around the mountain like a scarf on a chilled old woman. Hairpin turns after hairpin turn, back and forth, a zigzag. At one point when my stomach stayed behind as the Red Lady moved us with the advancing, climbing road, I regretted the decision. For a moment. Then the nausea passed and I kept my eyes ahead and on the map.


Crick-crack. That’s what my mom called the winding mountain roads her father drove when she was four years old. “Go crick-crack, Daddy.” That story – and the term – has stuck in our family. I introduced it to my bemused hubby, who thankfully, kept his eyes on the road while chuckling at the image of his four-year-old mother-in-law.

We continued climbing and the leaves really started bragging.

fall leaves at Sassafras Mountain
Ride to the top of Sassafras Mountain

Colors sharpened and the ascent increased, to the point where if you looked in the rear-window you could see nothing but sky meeting the mountains beyond us. Then we were there.

Hubby and the Red Lady
Hubby and the Red Lady

The top of Sassafras used to have a tower, but according to the info I was told, morons pulled it down. They are trying to build a new one and until that time, they’ve put up an Overlook balcony, which hangs off the edge of mountain and gives one a clear, panoramic view. We arrived a few hours before sunset so there was still a glare on our view. I could imagine that this would be a beautiful place to come at sunset, however. I will try to come back, now that I know it’s only a 45 minute (or less) trip from our new home.

What a view?!
What a view?!

More of the beautiful view at the top of Sassafras Mountain. (I tried piecing it together to make a panorama.)

Panoramic views at the top of Sassafras Mountain
Panoramic views at the top of Sassafras Mountain

If you like to hike, check out the information for the area and enjoy. The map at the parking area showed where you could hike from Sassafras to Table Rock. You can learn more about hiking and camping at Sassafras Mountain here: http://www.summitpost.org/sassafras-mountain/152371. Be careful if you travel to this area in the winter as the roads can get pretty icy.


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