Camping at Kings Mountain State Park SC / National Military Park NC

Panoramic View of Site 64

For Memorial Day weekend, our boyscout den decided to bond over roasted marshmallows, historic hikes and campfire songs at Kings Mountain State Park in upstate South Carolina, along the border of the two Carolinas. 

Reviews on TripAdvisor.com were not so nice about this particular state park so I was apprehensive.  We arrived late Friday evening around 8:15 and the entire campground was packed and rocking.  Having never camped in a packed campground, I though this was going to be a pretty hellish weekend (my happy meter was running on low apparently).  Signage wasn’t as forthcoming as in other state parks either so we felt…lost.  After what seemed like a 50 mile drive around the campground loop, we made it to our group of reserved sites, #63, 64, 65, and 66. 

Our site, #64, on the inside of the loop was HUGE! We were in eye site of the bathhouse, had 30/50AMP electric, site water, and full shade (plenty of trees for hammocks!). It was so large that even though every site was full, we felt fairly secluded with plenty of room for our large tents and everyone  (7 kids, 1 baby, 1 teen, 8 parents) in our den to spread out. Needless to say, my initial apprehension was swept away fairly quickly. 

Since we arrived so late, it was dark during tent set up (we have a 20’x10′ family tent). Fortunately with so many men there, I got to sit back and watch this time. 🙂 After unpacking, my two youngest (ages 3 and 7 months) were pretty exhausted so we changed, settled into our sleeping bags, and passed out while the big kids and dads hung around the group campfire. 

 Saturday morning, after a hearty McDonalds breakfast (we forgot the frying pans), we all headed over to the National Military park area where we watched an awesome “Military Thru the Ages” demo, hiked a pretty decent historical trail, spent time in the museum, and watched a movie about Kings Mountain (and how important it was to the American Revolution). 

Watching Military Thru the Ages (1700s up to Vietnam)
  

The kids also completed activities in the free Junior Ranger workbook, which earned them a small ceremony complete with certificate, Park Pin and Junior Ranger Kings Mountain badge.  

Some of our den kids and siblings receiving their Junior Ranger Awards

It was closing in on 2 pm by the time our den broke up for a few hours of much needed rest and alone time. 

Back at camp that evening, the kids played on the hammocks while the Dads prepared a group meal of hamburgers and hotdogs. 

Darkness fell, and the evening was capped off with adults playing card games, kids roasting marshmallows, everyone learning campfire songs (“Hello! My name is Joe! And I work in a button factory!”), and the whole den telling round robin spooky stories around the fire. 

Sunday morning was pack up time. Everyone else scooted out pretty soon after breakfast, but our family stayed around enjoying the last moments at the spacious site, reading field guides about the local trees and birds, and working through another ranger activity book. We pulled away at 11:55 am, just 5 minutes shy of official eviction time. 

The little camp store was at the head of the campground so we stopped at it for a while, grabbed some kid shirts, played basketball at the adjacent courts, and then walked over to the (unshaded) playground. The kids weren’t too thrilled with how hot the playground felt so we hopped in the car and headed back to the National Military Park area of Kings Mountain where we roamed the museum again, purchased souvenirs, had a picnic, and and toured the large Living History “Working Farm”. 

   

Living History Farm (late 1700s)

We finally said goodbye to the park and the fabulous historical American features it held, exhausted but filled with terrific family memories that (hopefully) will leave a lasting mark on our children. 

  

To learn more about Kings Mountain State Park in South Carolina, click here. 

For information on the National Military Park portion of Kings Mountain, go here

Camping at Paris Mountain State Park SC (Part 1)

This coming Monday, May 4th, is my oldest child’s birthday so we decided to celebrate by visiting the 11th annual Reedy River Duck Derby held on May 2 in the Falls Park of downtown Greenville, SC. 

What? Never heard of the Duck Derby you say? 

Well, suspense is good for the soul. 🙂

We also decided to make a full weekend of it and camp out from Friday afternoon to Sunday afternoon at nearby Paris Mountain State Park, just 20 minutes from the heart of Greenville. 

This beautiful park is hilly, very shady, and is perfect for tent campers (RV’ers beware though, the road curves are steep). There is the typical park information center with tshirts, a gorgeous lake (beach swimming opens Memorial Day), a playground, and many meandering miles of well kept trails of various difficulties! 

 

 Now with kids, I like to know what our campsite is like before we arrive.  Reviews from Trip Advisor and  CampsitePhotos.com have yet to steer me wrong in finding a large, private comfortable site! Our site this weekend, #14, has a tent pad large enough for our 10’x20′ family tent, picnic table, fire ring,  electricity, water, parking, is set far back from the campground road, and it backs up to woods with a trail head. The kids were immdiately in love with it and they began playing ball, shooting arrows with Jack’s plastic bow, and collecting bugs while Kevin and I set up the tent. 

Speaking of tents, putting together a large tent is sometimes gruesome. Halfway through it, I stood up and heard someone close by actually laugh at me. 

“HA HA!” they said. 

I looked around. Then the kids were laughing at a role poly a few feet away.  Then, there it was again..a different laugh….up above me. A black mocking bird was sitting directly overhead, uh, mocking us. The kids laughed again. 

“HA HA!” the mockingbird said again. 

He continued to HA HA at us as we HA HA’ed at him for the next few minutes. Then he grew tired of our shenanigans and flapped away. Probably to save Katniss. 

After striking camp we drove back over to the main park center area and took a .8 mile hike around the perimeter of Lake Placid. 

   

   

As this was one of their easy trails I wasn’t expecting much more than lovely lake views – but as we neared the midway point we got a pleasant surprise! 

A large waterfall cascaded over the dam of Lake Placid and spilled over rocks and under a bridge. The watery breeze alone was enough to put me on cloud 9 for the next few hours. Not to mention the beauty of it!

   

   

After such a pleasant Friday evening hike, we ended up back at our campsite tired and ready for dinner. 

A crackling campfire, hotdogs cooked over coals, baked beans, doritos, s’mores, ghost stories,  a chapter from Thorton Burgess Animal book – and even an unwelcome visit from a pesky raccoon who walked right up to our campfire twice (the nerve!) – rounded out our first night at Paris Mountain State Park. 

   

   

  Goodnight!