As the weather turns chilly and leaves begin turning color, autumn aficionados make their way up the winding, seven-mile-long road to Caesars Head State Park in northwest South Carolina.
From atop this granite peak — more than 3,200 feet above sea level — about 250,000 people a year scramble from their cars and motorcycles to the park overlook for the view.
Spectacular vistas unfold.
Tree-covered foothills, awash in hues of red and yellow, resemble colorful waves splashing against the base of the mountains. Raptors soar on unseen currents of air. The summits of Table Rock and Pinnacle mountains loom in the distance as the hardwood Dismal Forest stretches for miles beneath the lookout.
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Sightseers snap camera shutters at friends and family lining the fence, and point to the city of Greenville in the distance.
“You really get the feeling of being out in the wilderness,” says Mike Trotter, who has managed the 11,000-acre Caesars Head State Park/Mountain Bridge Wilderness Area for 1½ years. “It’s a real panoramic landscape that’s undeveloped and breathtaking.
“It’s a view that you’d expect to see somewhere else, but it’s all here in South Carolina.”