When thinking of South Carolina, sandy beaches are likely the first thing that comes to mind. There are mountains, however, and the highest ones are located in the northwestern part of the state close to North Carolina. At 3,554 feet, Sassafras Mountain is South Carolina’s highest point, and it is located in this section of the Southern Blue Ridge Mountains.
Sassafras Mountain is interesting in terms of highpointing. Its summit lies directly on the border between North Carolina and South Carolina, and it is thus the highest point of South Carolina. However, it’s not considered the highest mountain in the state because its base originates in North Carolina.
Getting to the summit can either be an easy hike or a quick drive. The Sassafras Mountain Road leads straight to a parking lot located next to a viewpoint and a few feet below the actual summit. There are no tolls or parking fees.
If you opt for a hike, the usual route uses part of the Foothills Trail and starts at the parking area on SC Route 178. The trail climbs steadily, but never steeply. It goes over Chimneytop (2.1 miles) and through Chimneytop Gap (2,400 feet), which crosses the Van Clayton Memorial Highway roughly half way between the trailhead and the summit. The trail then continues for 2.1 miles and leads directly to the summit parking lot.
From the viewpoint on an observation platform, the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina are prominent to the north. Some 6,000 footers can be seen on a clear day. The flat and mostly deforested summit is a few feet above the parking lot, and it offers nice views as well. The radio tower on the summit isn't the prettiest sight, but it doesn’t spoil the view either because it is mostly surrounded by trees.
Whether driving or hiking, this state high point ranks among the easiest to reach. In winter, the road could get a little icy and may not be safe without winter tires or proper traction. Walking up the road would then be an appropriate alternative.