Wednesday, October 21, 2015

U-haul Camping at Lake Jocassee

Uhaul Camper at Devils Fork State Park South Carolina
Last year South Carolina State Parks ran a special deal for Black Friday on camping: by one night get one night free. I can't let a deal like that pass so I jumped on it and scheduled a camping trip to the mountains of South Carolina. There's several parks up that way: Oconee, Devils Fork, Keowee-Toxaway, Table Rock, and Ceasar's Head. We opted to try out Devils Fork.

Unfortunately, I had to move the dates due to family situations beyond my control. so we missed out on hitting it during the Spring. It's one of the only places in the world that you can see the Oconee Bell flower. So it would have been nice to see that during the spring but we ended up going in early October instead. It was still nice. The weather was great; it only rained one day. This time it was just me and the kids for a 5 day, 4 night trip. It was great to see them out in nature and exploring.

Lake Jocassee at Devils Fork State Park South Carolina
Devils Fork is on Lake Jocassee and is the only place that allows public access to the lake. They dammed up the valley/gorge at this point because 4 rivers flow into here before becoming the Keowee River. The dam is run by Duke Energy. While we didn't get to go out on the lake this trip, I expect in the future we will make another trip since it's only about 2 hours away. The campground is nice and we ended up in site 48 right across from the bath house on that loop. It was nice to be close to the bath house with the kids. The sites are nice and have water and electric. There are also some walk-in and boat-in campsites available too. There are 2 small trails at the park: the Oconee Bell Trail (1-mile loop) and the Bear Cove Trail (2-mile loop). We wandered down both of them on various days. The Bear Cove Trail winds out to a small peninsula with a great place for a picnic/snack break and nice view of the lake and mountains.

kids hiking at Devils Fork State Park South Carolina
While the park does have a playground for the kids, they do seem to lack kid/educational focused programs. Since they primarily view themselves as a boating/fishing park, I understand why they may be limited on kids activities. Still when I camp with the kids, I like for the parks we visit to have something engaging/educational for them.

We arrived on a Thursday and settled into camp. Friday was nice since most folks checked out and there was a lot of quiet time before the weekend crowd arrived. That's when we took advantage of some hiking followed up by smores.

Saturday it rained the entire day. That's always tough in a 13ft camper with little ones. (See my post on what to do with kids on rainy days.) Fortunately, I plan for times like this. We use over-the-back-of-the-seat DVD players in our car instead of a built in unit. I only put them in the car for long trips. We like that we don't have a video unit in the car 24/7. It also allows us the ability to move one of the units into the camper on rainy/cold days. So we watched some movies. I also took along a few books. We read half of Call of The Wild that day. They really get into the story when we read to them. My son is old enough to read to himself and he had a book of his that he had been reading through and took the opportunity on Saturday to indulge in it. We took a mid day trip out for lunch. It was about a 20-30 min drive to the closest big town. We found a McDonalds with an indoor playplace. That made for a good couple hours of playing and lunch. Later that evening the rain tapered off. We also played some games and bought a new camping themed game at the camp store.

Sunday was another beautiful day and we did some more hiking and played at the playground. We made mini pizzas for dinner that night. It's a fun since the kids get to make their own pizza. And we topped off the night with smores.

Monday was time to pack up. We broke camp early and headed out. We had one last thing on our list though before heading home. There are many waterfalls in the area. Some are long hikes; some are shorter hikes. A few are only viewable by boat on the lake. I had researched that one of the easier ones to get to was not too far away and on the way home. So we headed off to Oconee Station Historic Site.

Oconee Station State Historic Site South Carolina
Oconee Station is an old 1700s military compound that later turned into a trading post. Lots of Oconee and Cherokee Indians inhabited the region back then. They only do tours of the inside of the buildings in the afternoon (1-5pm at the time I'm writing this). So definitely check the website if you want a tour. We walked around the outsides for a bit and then hit the closest hiking trail.

Station Cove Falls South CarolinaThere is a pond and a loop trail around the pond, but the loop trail extends off and connects over to the Palmetto Trail. It also connects to Station Cove Falls Trail. Station Cove Falls is a 60 foot waterfall that is a relatively easy hike to get to.

There are two way to get to the trail head. Either drive down the road from the entrance to Oconee Station and park at the trail head, or hike from the Oconee Station parking lot past the pond. Since we had the camper in tow, it was easier to park at Oconee Station Historic Site and hike over. It may have added a .5 mile or so to the hike. The hike from the trail head is .5 miles to the falls. It's also a relatively easy walk; though not a paved path. The kids had a fun time playing in the falls for a bit and then our grand adventure moved to a close as we headed home.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Camping Essentials Survey

I'd like to hear from you!  I've put together a brief 5 question survey and I'm excited to get your feedback. Please take a few minutes to fill out the survey. Thank you in advance!

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