Sunday, November 14, 2010

Sulphur Springs Trail at Paris Mountain State Park

When Bruno, the eldest, stared longingly into my eyes Friday night, I naturally thought about how I'd miss him and his sister Dixie while I was at work on Saturday. Then I realized that if I felt bad now, I'd feel really bad leaving them for a day trip with my husband Sunday... so we changed our plans to include them; thus this post!

Steven and I couldn't rightly take our two dogs all the way to Chimney Rock State Park, as Dixie gets car sick. Nothing like a torturous hour and a half in a car to ruin a puppy's day! We settled on Paris Mountain, which we had attempted with our dogs about a year previous, with little success due to the summer temperatures. We ended up just doing the trail that runs around Lake Placid. It's maybe half a mile of easy, family friendly trail down at the public entrance of Paris Mountain State Park. Yesterday I decided on either the Brissy Ridge Trail or Sulphur Springs Trail for our family hike!

Paris Mountain State Park is very well marked in the Greenville area, both by street signs and it's entrance sign off of State Park Road. Paris Mountain is a rare monadnock, and the area surrounding it mere foothills compared to the actual mountains in the Mountain Bridge Wilderness Area, or Nantahala Forest. It's conveniently located to the Parker district of Greenville, and probably a twenty minute drive from any part of Greenville.

We entered the park, where you will be expected to pay $2.00 a person for the day; campers obviously pay a separate fee. We got our parking pass when we paid at the gate, Bruno and Dixie growling through the window at the poor gate attendant. For access to the white blazed Sulphur Springs Trail lower down the mountain, follow the paved road past the Lake Placid parking area, and continue up the road, past the final area for RV parking. The parking we used has a really nice picnic shelter available, and is labelled as Sulphur Springs parking. You can also continue up further for an easier walk along the yellow blazed Brissy Ridge Trail, as well as access the less challenging ridge line segment of Sulphur Springs trail, to connect to the blue blazed Firetower Spur, all by parking at the Buckhorn Gate.

We did park further down the mountain, at the parking area marked in the above map as the fourth available from the main entrance gate. We got our packs adjusted, double checked the dogs' leashes, and were on our way!

Paris Mountain State Park, as well as most other public parks, require that you keep your dog on a leash and under control. I feel it's my responsibility as a pet owner to make that perfectly clear, both for your own safety, that of your pet(s), and others.

The roughly three and a half mile Sulphur Springs Loop Trail starts out pretty easily from this parking area. We ambled along and let the dogs sniff to their hearts (or noses) content until we approached the neat tower adjacent to the dam of the Mountain Lake reservoir!

We stopped and took some pictures, then headed up the stone stairs to the right of the tower... and from there the climbing began!

Something about having to keep up with a healthy two year old dog's pace just made the elevation of this trail so much more intense than I was prepared for! The dog's were just so excited; they didn't always understand that their four legs could propel them up the rocks and roots of the trail a lot faster than our bodies! Having said that though, we thankfully got into a rhythm, and I may or may not have allowed Bruno's strength to help me up a little!

That first mile past the Mountain Lake reservoir and dam, and along the pretty creek is really the toughest of it; once Sulphur Springs begins to run as the bike trail, things are significantly more level, and you follow the ridge along some beautiful scenery.

We followed Sulphur Springs to the Firetower Trail spur, and went ahead to add the extra .4 miles of hiking to our day! It takes you to the highest point of elevation in the park, as is appropriate for the location of an old firetower!

Once at the firetower, you do have to turn around and double back. We continued on our day along Sulphur Springs, and met with a lot more foot and bike traffic than I had expected along the ridge! It was a beautiful Carolina fall afternoon, and it's great to see people out with their families enjoying nature! Thank goodness this chunk of the trail along the ridge is so much less strenuous, with all that traffic! We got to relax and enjoy the amazing foliage!

You'll soon approach the Buckhorn Gate parking, where you can access the Brissy Ridge Trail as well. Had our tummies not been rumbling for lunch (sometimes, blueberries just aren't enough), we may have ventured out that way, too! Alas, we will just have to take Bruno and Dixie out for further adventures!

Sulphur Springs Trail from this point on is descending back down the mountain. This part was a bit tricky with our two eager dogs, as apparently two miles of moderate to strenuous hiking is not enough to curtail their energies! With a little patience and some friendly reminders, we did manage to keep Bruno and Dixie from taking us for a tumble down the somewhat steep trail! Good footing and safe pacing is always important.

Trail Recap for Sulphur Springs Loop Trail:
Sulphur Springs Trail (white blazes)
Firetower Trail (blue blazes)
Sulphur Springs Trail (white blazes)

All in all, Sulphur Springs is a great half day hike at Paris Mountain! It demanded just the right amount of energy from me; it had it's steep, strenuous moments, and it is certainly a trail that deserves your attention; even without the loss of traction due to all the fallen leaves, there are tree roots and rocks aplenty along the trail. We rounded our days' hiking to be at a little more than four miles, including the Firetower Trail spur. Always take water, and always enjoy yourself as you venture out! Thanks for reading, and please leave some feedback in the comments!

Stay tuned for the healthy habits post, as well as the latest Formerly, Friday! If anyone has ideas for great winter weather hikes in the area, do share!


  1. Hey,

    Keep up the good work! Just curious, how does the strenuous stretch of the trail on Paris Mountain compare to some of the other trails you have mentioned on here, for example High Falls or Ravencliff Falls?


  2. Hey Chris! It's got some great footholds and rock steps, but I think in terms of elevation gain, it's probably comparable to the final gain at Falls Creek Falls. It's not too bad, and pacing would have helped me significantly. The dogs, however, weren't sympathetic to my wanting a break! If you've climbed up the Dismal Trail at Raven Cliff Falls, you can do ANY THING!!