Fall visit to Paris Mountain

North Lake and summit
With temperatures falling, it's a perfect time get out and explore. This week, I took an extra day off to explore Camp Buckhorn and North Lake in Paris Mountain State Park, located a few miles north of Greenville, SC.

I parked at the trailhead for Brissy Ridge Trail, a 2.4 mile loop trail around Brissy Ridge. I started out at the end of the parking lot and descended down a steep series of switchbacks and tree roots serving as natural steps. I found just one area along this part of the trail where I could show off the fall colors.

The trail eventually intersects with the road leading to Camp Buckhorn. I left the trail at the intersection and followed the road up the short distance to the camp.

A trail from the road leads to a platform...
...where there isn't much to see. A bit beyond is Buckhorn Creek.
I backtracked to the road where another trail follows the shoreline of Buckhorn Lake to the lodge. The lodge was unoccupied, thank goodness.
 I couldn't resist peeking in the window.
Peeking inside
The camp looks great, and I'd love to stay here sometime, but with rates ranging from $750 to $1500 a day I think I'll pass.

I walked by the small cabins...

then resumed following the trail, which meant going up these steep stone steps.
The trail took my back to the dam and its spillway.
I went back down the road and rejoined Brissy Ridge Trail to head toward North Lake. Heading down the trail, I encountered this non-poisonous black snake laying right in the middle of the path.
Neither one of us seemed bothered by the other and we went our own ways without any drama.

After checking the trail map stored on my tablet and my current position, I discovered I was supposed to have gone down Pipsissewa Trail. Drat. Fortunately, it only took a few minutes to fix my mistake.
The trail is mostly downhill until it levels out near the lake. A loop trail surrounds North Lake.
I took the right fork toward the dam.
Two kids where fishing and having fun on when I arrived, while the mom was quietly reading a book.

At at info kiosk near the spillway, I learned this lake was created in 1904 as a backup supply of water to the thirsty residents of the city of Greenville. The city of Greenville stopped using the reservoir in the 1980s when Lake Keowee became available. In 2003, the city of Greenville donated the land to the park while keeping the water storage tanks and treatment system.

The views were certainly scenic enough.
North Lake View of summit from North Lake
The spillway held more leaves than water today.
Mom and the kids left just before I did, yet I never heard anything more from them after completing the loop and heading back. I later discovered there are some houses within in easy walking distance from the lake, and that's likely where they went and why I didn't see or hear them again.

While on the other side of the lake completing the loop, I encountered a barefoot hiker. I decided to take off my sandals after he passed to see if I could handle it.
I couldn't. I went barefoot for about a minute before I gave up. I was impressed. This guy must have some tough feet.

The sun was getting low in the sky, and so it was time to head on back. The way back was mostly uphill all the way and I had to stop every few minutes for a rest, some water, and a check on my progress. I used a hiking app on my tablet to cache OpenStreetMap's mapping of the park's trails, but the state park service offers a trail map in PDF format I could have referenced.

I've shared my photos in a set on my Flickr account and in a photo album on my Google+ account.

While my leg muscles recover from their strenuous workout, I'll be plotting my next adventure.

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