Written by Andrea Beam
Photos by Lacey Eibert Keigley
We’ve found the perfect place for the adventurous hiker and for visitors in flip flops too. If you’re a lover of the great outdoors, but strenuous activity is not your thing, Jones Gap is your park!
The path from the parking lot to the actual park is dirt-packed so that means it is hard and free of debris, it’s like walking on pavement.
Crossing the bridge takes a while because everyone stops to take pictures of the Saluda River rushing over the rocks, the first of many waterfalls inside the park.
Picnic tables sit under trees along the river bank. Make a note before you pack your picnic basket that there are no trash cans in the park. (Bears, Oh NO!) Any garbage you make, you take.
The path to the Ranger Station, hiking trails, and CLEAN (this is a must) bathrooms is paved.
The park store (inside the Ranger Station) is stocked with insect repellent, a few bare necessities and typical souvenirs but, the outside of the building is phenomenal. A stone porch and awesome patio is decked with huge wooden Adirondack chairs and benches. This is where we lost our sixty-five year old Nanny. She chose to recline in a chair and relax to the soothing sounds of the rushing river. Nature’s form of valium, and it’s FREE! Warning: Use in moderation. This can be addictive.
Jones Gap has miles of hiking trails. The Mountain Bridge Wilderness Area, 12,000 acres of mountain wilderness, connects Jones Gap to nearby Caesars Head. Experienced hikers who make this trek enjoy views most people only see in their dreams. Another trail even connects to the popular Foothills Trail.
It was overcast the day we visited. Throwing rocks in the river can be enjoyed even in the rain. All you need for this test of skill is water shoes and a towel! Our boys would stay here all day. Adults will enjoy NO cell phone or Wifi service. At least I did.
The next sweltering day you’re longing for shade in the great outdoors, drive up to Jones Gap. It’s ten degrees cooler in the mountains!
You can thank us later.