Opening in tree cover relieving the view of the pirdmont below.
View from along the Brissy Ridge Trail

Paris Mountain State Park Field Report

Today’s plan was to hit Lake Placid, get a few photo’s of the dam before it got busy and then check out a couple trails. When I arrived around 10:00 am, a good number of people were already around the lake. So I decided to just see where the park road would take me.

The drive up is nice. I passed a large picnic area and then the Sulfur Springs parking lot with more picnic tables and shelters. The parking area for the mountain lake trail is really small – only large enough for two cars at most.

Continuing up the road, nearing the top, the trailhead for the Brissy Ridge Trail has enough room for a handful of cars. But there’s a larger parking lot a short distance further up.

Right before you get to the gate for Camp Buckhorn, turn left for the last parking area in the park. It’s a good sized lot with a couple picnic tables and a compositing toilet. A short trail leads to the Brissy Ridge Trail, so you don’t have to walk along the road. I was here, so I decided to hit up Brissy Ridge and then head back down the mountain to Lake Placid.

Brissy Ridge Trail

Paris Mountain State Park hiking trail near the top of the mountain rocks and roots can be seen covering trail as the trail dips sharply down and then back up and to the left
The trails at Paris Mountain State Park are rocky and rooty

Loop trail around the top of the mountain split between a hiking only section and a hiking/mountain bike area. The hiking only part of the trail is much steeper, and depending on which direction you start the trail – one of the most strenuous trails in the park. For the entire trail, you’ll be walking over boulders and roots. And there aren’t any benches or picnic tables along the way.

If you’re on a mountain bike or want the most strenuous hike, start at the map kiosk you’ll see past the far end of the parking area. It’s the same place where Sulfur Springs trail passes through. Starting here you’ll be going down hill and it’s a much easier grade. If you want to make it an easy hike, turn around and backtrack before you cross the park road.

Two trails split off along the way. Both the Kanuga and Pipsissewa trials will lead to Reservoir #3 (North Lake) and are the only ways to access the northern most lake.

If you’re looking for an in between hike, take the Brissy Ridge trailhead to the right of the parking lot. You’ll start out on the hiking only section of the trail. You’ll be going mostly downhill over the steepest part of the trail until you cross the park road and connect with the mountain bike section of the trail.

Camp Buckhorn

Rustic lodge built brown in color with wooden fence infront
Lodge building at Camp Buckhorn

After returning to my car, I decided to chance a drive to Camp Buckhorn. The gate was open, and I decided to “not see” the sign saying guests only beyond this point. Buckhorn is one of the parts of the park I really wanted to see. Like most of the buildings in the park it was built by the CCC and is reportedly in excellent condition.

I was only able to get one quick picture of the lodge building before I was caught and run off. I found out later that they offer tours on Thursday. I was told all you have to do is call and make arrangements.

Lake Placid

small beach area with stonebuilding on hill and stone stairs leading up to it

Now it was time to drive down to the base of the mountain and check out Lake Placid. The only lake you can drive to and the first thing you’ll see when entering. There’s some limited parking on the same side of the road as the lake, but a little further up, before you get to the visitors center, there’s a much larger parking lot on the opposite side of the road.

19th century dam with water flowing over the top
Lake Placid Dam

After crossing the road, a path leads down to the Visitor Center and park offices in the old bathhouse built by the CCC. Lots of CCC buildings are in this area including picnic shelters, a footbridge, and the dam. The path leading around the lake is a nice and easy change from the trail I was on earlier.

The area in front of the Visitor Center is a small beach with a platform in the water off the shore. The swimming season hasn’t opened up at the lake yet, but there are plenty of spots for fishing around the lake.

Sulphur Springs Area

The last stop was to head back up the mountain to the Sulphur Springs Trailhead. It’s a really popular spot in the park with 2 CCC picnic shelters, a stream, and a small footbridge. There’s some parking in front, but if you follow the single lane road, there’s a much larger parking area in the back.

You’ll also be able to access the Sulphur Springs trail that will take you up to the Brissy Ridge Trail and parking lots passing the mountain lake along the way.

Final Thoughts

Paris Mountain is only 5 miles from Greenville, but it feels like a world away. As I was up on the mountain, the only sounds I heard were birds singing, wind blowing, and the occasional stream. It struck me after about a half hour that I hadn’t heard a single car. Most of the park faces away from downtown, so the mountain buffers you from the noise and congestion just a few miles away.

wooden bridge built atop stone pillars across a ravine with lake in background
Foot Bridge built by the CCC beside Lake Placid

The park also has a range of activities that will suit almost everyone. If you’re looking for a strenuous hike, follow the park road to its end. If you want a nice stroll around a lake, stay around the base of the mountain.

Lake Placid has a designated swimming area and pedal boat rentals. However, when I was there, a sign said they were both closed for the season. A couple picnic shelters are along the lake along with a good many picnic tables. Fishing is allowed, and you can even see some fish from the shore.

Further up the road, there are a more picnic shelters including at the Sulphur Springs trail head. Sulphur Springs seems to be one of the more popular spots with family’s having picnics and kids playing in the creek.