Winding Stairs
Sumter National Forest, South Carolina
Difficulty
hike difficulty
10.3
Length
hike difficulty
6.2
Duration 3 hours
Elevation Gain 1200 ft.
State South Carolina
Park/Forest Sumter National Forest
Parking Fee None
Blaze Red/Rust
Nearby City Mountain Rest, SC
Trailhead Coord. 34.922393, -83.07754

Looking for some moderate elevation gain over a few miles to build your trail legs? This may be the hike for you. This easy to navigate hike ascends 400 feet/mile over its one way 3.1 mile length, making for an easy-to-moderate difficulty and length.



Both ends of the Winding Stairs trail have parking access, but it is suggested that you start at the southern trailhead. Travelling in this direction puts all the elevation gain on the first half of the hike. The southern parking lot on Winding Stairs Road is not marked at all. It is just a small parking area off the gravel road. You should easily spot the trail, with a mile marker about 50 feet into the trail from the parking lot. Across the road is a camping area. Another small, unmarked parking lot exists at the northern trailhead along SC-107, with a larger lot .1 miles up the road at the Cherry Hill Recreation Area. All parking is free.



The first half mile of this hike follows a small creek, crossing it twice before coming to the first in a series of long switchbacks at .8 miles. Gaining just under 400 feet/mile makes this a good warm up to more challenging inclines. Several marked and unmarked side trails break away at the end of many switchbacks. Some of these are very difficult, navigating extremely steep slopes to views of waterfalls and water slides and suggested only for those who really want to get their heart pumping.



On the way up, expect to make numerous small stream crossings. Most can be made without problem, but after rainfall, expect to get a little wet or muddy, a good reason to wear boots. With the two creeks on either side of the trail and the frequent stream crossing, the sounds of water can be heard throughout. As you gain elevation, the trail does provide some winter views. At the 2 mile marker, at the end of a switchback several side trails branch off. Taking the middle one for just a few feet will give you a descent view of Miuka Falls.



At mile 2.8 the trail begins to level out again. Shortly before arriving at Cherry Hill Recreation Area, the trail splits. A trail marker points the way straight ahead, but instead, turn left. The trail has been re-routed to arrive at a small parking lot directly off of SC-107 and this marker has not been removed. If you continue straight, you will arrive at the Recreation Area with picnic tables and a drinking water source; however, this section of trail is not being maintained as several large trees have fallen and are difficult to navigate around and over.

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TERRAIN MAP
Green MarkerTrailhead   Blue MarkerPoint of Interest   Yellow MarkerDirections

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ELEVATION PROFILE
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GETTING THERE
Trailhead Coordinates
34.922393, -83.07754 (Degree Decimal, DegDec)
N 34°55.34, W 83°4.65 (Degree Minutes, MinDec)
N 34°55'21'', W 83°4'39'' (Degree Minutes Seconds, DMS)

Google Map It

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Further Directions
The southern trailhead is on the north side of Winding Stairs road. On the other side of Townes Creek across the road is Tamassee Campground.
For the northern trailhead, a small parking area is located .1 miles south of the Cherry Hill Recreation Area along SC-107, which includes a larger gravel parking lot. Google Map for the Cherry Hill Trailhead

ADDITIONAL INFO

Ranger District Information
Sumter National Forest
Andrew Pickens Ranger District
112 Andrew Pickens Circle, Mountain Rest, SC 29664
864-638-9568



Cautions & Warnings
If taking any side trails, use caution going down steep slopes.