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Cherokee Foothills Scenic Highway (SC 11)

Last Saturday, I headed back down to Charlotte for the weekend. I went to the Panthers game Sunday, they lost. But on Saturday, I rode around again with Steven. This time into South Carolina and along the Cherokee Foothills Scenic Highway, also known as SC 11.

Before I share with you SC 11, one note. Near milemarker 95 on I-85 in South Carolina, there is a over a century old family cemetery within the median of the interstate. If you are headed Southbound, you can tell by how the median extremely widens. Look at the top of the small hill on your left and you should be able to see the cemetery.

Now for SC 11. When discussing the trip with Steven before I headed down for the trip, he wasn't very thrilled with the possibility. By the end of the trip, that mindset had changed.

Heading south on SC 11 from Gaffney begins uneventful. A few car dealerships and other business start of the ride. However, not long before Cowpens National Battlefield, the highway becomes more rural.

The early part of the trip is dominated by fruit orchards. Peaches and strawberries are the top advertised crops along the way. In Chesnee, Strawberry Hill is the main attraction with a large fruit stand. As you head further south on Highway 11, the peach orchards are blended with the backdrop of Glassy Mountain.


There are many possible side trips off of SC 11. Actually there are too many to name. We didn't take all of them, but one small side trip is off of SC 11. It is the Campbell's Covered Bridge. To get to the bridge head south on SC 14 from SC 11. Turn right on SC 414, about a mile or so turn right on Pleasant Hill Road. Turn right onto Campbell's Bridge road about a half mile later. Directions to the bridge are well marked with brown guide signs.

Campbell's Covered Bridge was built in 1909. It is the only 'remaining' covered bridge within South Carolina. Of course over the years many replicas have been built including the Klickity-Klack Bridge that can be seen from SC 11.

Also, the remains of an old mill are located at the covered bridge. Although the remains are covered by kudzu, it makes for some great shots.


Not long after, SC 11 begins to run along the bottom of the Blue Ridge Escarpment. There are great views throughout going North or South including the one below.

Not far from the spot above is Ballenger Mill. Just a great spot for photos...because of the dry conditions the leaves have already started to fade allowing for a fall like setting.

A must see is the Poinsett Bridge. This gothic stone arch bridge was built along the Old State Road in 1820. It is the oldest surviving bridge in South Carolina and is totally awe inspiring. To get, there just follow the brown guide signs for the Poinsett Bridge Heritage Area. There's a small dirt parking area across from the bridge to park.


The bridge is in amazing condition and is well worth exploring. Here's a link to Steven's photos from the bridge. He is a far better photographer than I.



An idea of how tall the bridge is. I am 5'8" and the bridge is well a heck of a lot taller than I.

Another great side trips are visits to the numerous State and local parks just off of the Cherokee Foothills Scenic Parkway. We stopped at Caesar's Head State Park which is part of the Mountain Bridge Wilderness Area. To get to Caesar's Head take US 276 North from SC 11. It's a great twisty mountain drive to the visitor's center and overlook. There are a number of trails nearby along with several waterfalls. Unfortunately, we didn't have time to hike and two of the nearby falls were near dry as a result of the ongoing drought.

US 276 North prior to the twisty climb to the top of the mountain.


Two views of from the Caesar's Head overlook.

There are other parks that are just off of SC 11. Table Rock State Park, Jones Gap State Park, and Keowee Toxaway State Park to name a few. As a whole there is more to SC 11 than just a scenic drive. The Cherokee Foothills Scenic Highway is a gateway to some of the best recreation and history of South Carolina's Upstate. It's definitely worth a return visit or two or three or four.

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