View of Pinnacle Mountain and Bald Rock
We paddled Lake Oolenoy on Christmas Eve. It was a spontaneous plan that unfolded when Lake Robinson, a lovely 800 acre lake near our home, was closed. We had already loaded our boats up and driven 20 whole minutes when we realized this, and it felt too disappointing and lame to just turn back after making such an effort on Christmas Eve. Instead of admitting defeat, we opted to tack on 30 minutes and push our way up to Lake Oolenoy.
I have to admit, I was a little critical of poor Lake Oolenoy before I actually went there. It has the misfortune of being on our route to Lake Joccassee, one of the most gorgeous, epic places in South Carolina. No matter how pleasant Lake Oolenoy might be, I could not imagine it being as grand and stunning as Lake Joccassee. This means that if we plan out a paddling adventure of any consequence, we are almost always willing to drive the extra 30-45 minutes required to bypass Lake Oolenoy and arrive at our beloved Jocassee. However, this Christmas Eve our time frame required as little extra driving time as possible and a relatively short paddle when we got to our destination. Lake Oolenoy ended up being a perfect solution. At less than an hour from Greenville, it is easy to get to and with only 67 acres to its name it is perfect for a short exploration. The lake is very pretty, undeveloped, and clean with remarkable views of Table Rock and Pinnacle Mountain. It’s a great little spot to explore and there are nice picnic areas and bathrooms available by the boat ramp access point. We would definitely come back, and perhaps try taking out a SUP.
Paddle this Lake: If you’re coming from Greenville, you will pass the main entrance to Table Rock State Park on your right before crossing the bridge over Lake Oolenoy and arriving at the boat ramp on your left. For more information about seasonal hours and directions see the state park website.
Recommendations: Bring a camera for some great views of Table Rock and Pinnacle Mountain.
Note: There are two lakes in Table Rock State Park. Lake Pinnacle does not allow public boat access; however, they rent kayaks and canoes. Both kayaks and SUPs are permitted on Lake Oolenoy.
January 24, 2014
Driving down Hwy 11 with hardly a cloud in the sky, I tried to convince myself that the sun would really offset the 20 degree temperatures uncommon for most of the year in Greenville. This was not the case. It was cold and breezy enough to make my lungs burn and tickle with coughs for hours after our run was complete. The lung-burning was probably not entirely weather related since the run we did includes a 2,000 foot elevation gain that takes place over the first half of the run. Was it worth it, you may ask? The cold, the coughs, the combusting thigh and calf muscles. I would still say yes. I love this run for the challenge it presents. Still, it has not ceased to be a bit daunting every time we decide to confront it. For close to 4 miles, you climb the trail that begins at Table Rock State Park Nature Center. There are many rocky steps in the first couple of miles and even the smoother paths later on are deceptively steep and challenging, but the views are stunning and the sense of accomplishment you get from crossing over this mountain makes it all worth it. It’s also a killer workout and a good confidence boost if you’re training for any kind of more moderate trail run. The run down the mountain is an exercise in balance and precision as you plummet dramatically down from the small clearing at the top. Again you are treated to amazing views, particularly at Bald Knob. The entire loop clocked out at 8.1 miles, and took us well over 2 hours to run with stops for pictures, shoelace malfunctions, and a pre-run bathroom break all added in.
Run this trail: Go to Table Rock State Park, SC. Start on the trail that begins by the nature center. Take Table Rock trail up a series of rough steps and linking trails, passing a shelter/lookout around 2 miles and continuing until you reach a second fork. You will take a left to head up Pinnacle mountain instead of the more common hike to Table Rock. Eventually you will pass a sign that says .9 miles to the top. (Warning: This last section can feel so long!) You will reach a clearing. To the left of the clearing the path continues sharply downhill. You will reach Bald Knob , an exposed face, in less than half a mile. Keep going to the left across Bald Rock and back into the woods. Continue down following blazes until you reach the path marked by three colored blazes. Take that back to the Nature Center.
Recommendations: Bring water on this run! It can get long and it’s pretty strenuous . You also might want to bring a snack at least for when you’re done if not for during the run. Watch out for bears during the summer. Wear trail shoes if you have them. You will enjoy the extra traction.