Camping Confidential: Jones Gap State Park

Every family needs a “go-to” campground. For the Two Dog family, that campground is Jones Gap State Park in South Carolina.

Camp
By Corey Hunt
Camp Ambassador

Every family needs a “go-to” campground. One that is close to home, easy to access and provides relaxation for the whole family. For the Two Dog family, that campground is Jones Gap State Park.

(Photo: Corey Hunt)

I grew up in the Greenville area of South Carolina, and Jones Gap was on the family’s rotation of campgrounds we would visit when the weather turned cool. When my son was 18 months old, we decided to take him to Jones Gap for his first camping trip, too. He got more sleep than the adults did, but a good time was had by all, and Jones Gap holds a special place in my heart.

(Photo: Corey Hunt)

Jones Gap State Park is 25 miles from Greenville, S.C. It boasts 13,000 acres of pristine mountain woodlands and joins Caesars Head State Park to make the Mountain Bridge Wilderness Area. The Middle Saluda River runs through the park and provides access to trout fishing. There are more than 60 miles of hiking trails and 18 campsites at Jones Gap State Park.

(Photo: Corey Hunt)

Camping: 

We have camped in almost half of the sites at Jones Gap State Park. If you are looking for short or long hikes to a backcountry site, this is the campground for you. The shortest hike-in distance is .05 miles and is located on a walking path behind the ranger station. These sites are great for taking young kids on their first camping trip due to ease of terrain and quick access to the car if needed. The longest hike from the Jones Gap parking lot to the backcountry site is 3.4 miles, but it is only 2.9 miles from Caesars Head State Park (and mostly downhill from Caesars Head). The sites all have fire rings and designated areas to set up the tent.

(Photo: Corey Hunt)
(Photo: Corey Hunt)

Hiking: 

Jones Gap State Park has two beautiful waterfalls. Rainbow Falls is the park’s most popular waterfall, and most people that visit the park hike this trail. Dogs are allowed but must be kept on a leash. The trail is a 4.4-mile out-and-back hike. Jones Gap Falls is the second most popular waterfall trail and is a 3.5-mile out and back hike. Most of the trails at Jones Gap State Park are listed as moderate due to the steep terrain.

(Photo: Corey Hunt)

What To Do: 

Besides camping and hiking, fishing is also a popular pastime for Jones Gap visitors. The Middle Saluda is the main river that anglers frequent, but Matthews Creek and Julian Creek also hold some smaller trout. Be sure to check the fishing regulations of the park prior to fishing; some days the streams are closed.

(Photo: Corey Hunt)

Jones Gap is a kid-friendly state park. Several hundred feet from the ranger station are two large boulders that provide ample climbing for kids of all ages, and many of the hiking trails are streamside. The climbing, rock throwing, hiking, bug exploring and leaf racing in the streams keep my kids sleeping well at the campsite.

(Photo: Corey Hunt)
(Photo: Corey Hunt)

Jones Gap State Park is an invaluable resource for upstate South Carolina. With over 60 miles of hiking trails and varying distances of backcountry campsites, it holds something for families of any size or age range. It remains a favorite of this Two Dog Outdoors family, and I hope it stays that way for years to come.

(Photo: Corey Hunt)

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