Caesar’s Head State Park
About Caesar’s Head State Park
The Cherokee and their ancestors where the first people to lay eyes on what we now call Caesar’s Head in northern Greenville County. Described by Robert Mills, prominent SC architect and designer of the Washington Monument, as a “mass of granite, rising from the vale, through which a rapid river winds its turbulent way…the ledges of stone, rising almost perpendicular, and at length, hanging over at [the] top, so that they seem to totter to their fall.” The view from the top has inspired awe in visitors for generations.
What is the What is the Blue Ridge Escarpment?
When people talk about Caesars Head, one of the things they always mention is the Blue Ridge Escarpment which leaves lots of people scratching their heads wondering what that is. Simply put, an escarpment is a steep slope or cliff that separates two areas of different elevations. So the Blue Ridge Escarpment marks the dividing line between the Blue Ridge Mountain Region of South Carolina and the Piedmont.
From high atop the granite face of Caesars Head, you’ll get the best view of the Blue Ridge Escarpment around, and it’s especially stunning in the fall.
Caesars Head’s History
Standing on what was once Cherokee hunting grounds, Caesar’s Head became a retreat for the area’s rich and powerful. The cool air and scenic views enticed former state senator Benjamin Hagood to build a summer home and later hotel on the mountain in 1848. Hagood’s daughter and her husband continued to operate a hotel and health resort until finally giving the land to Furman University in 1897.
The resort changed hands a number of times in the following years. But unfortunately the hotel and original house where destroyed in a fire in 1954. Then in 1976, the Department of Parks, recreation, and Tourism acquired the lands and created the park.
Why is it Called Caesar’s Head?
The name “Caesar’s Head” is the source of some controversy. No one really knows the reason for the name. Some say the rock outcrop looks like a giant bust of Julius Caesar. Others think the name originated with a hunting dog named Caesar that jumped to its death while chasing a rabbit. Sill others think it’s a corruption if the Cherokee word “sachem” or chief.
Whatever the truth is, what you’ll find from the top of Caesar’s Head is an impressive view of the southernmost boundary of the Blue Ridge Mountains and the valley below. With its panoramic views Caesars Head is one of the best places to check out the mountains in the upstate. Table Rock, Paris Mountain, and the surrounding mountains are all easily viewed from the overlook. On a clear day, you can see as far away as Georgia.
Fall at Caesars Head State Park Overlook
The overlook at Caesar’s Head is home to many events during the year. Every fall, thousands of hawks can be seen on their migration to warmer climates in South and Central America. From early September through the end of November, the Greenville County Bird Club keeps and eye on the hawks and other raptors along their journey. Hawk watchers have documented thousands of hawks in a single day with up to 300 traveling overhead at the same time. You might also see other raptors like bald eagles, kestrels, peregrine falcons, or turkey vultures flying along the same route.
Fall also brings another dramatic event to Caesars Head. Perched atop the overlook on the high rock outcrop, you’ll have the beast seat in the Upstate to witness the annual leaf change in the fall. Be warned though, expect heavy traffic and lots of people thinking the same thing. Best to go early or during the week when it’s less crowded.
Devils Kitchen at Caesars Head State Park
After you’ve taken in the views from the overlook you can take a quick side trip through the Devils Kitchen. The name sounds scary and if you’re at all claustrophobic you may want to give this one a miss. The path will take you down a narrow crevice between two boulders. The passage is only large enough for one person at a time. After braving the “kitchen” you’ll be treated to a spectacular side view of Caesars Head.
Hiking and Picnicking at Caesar’s Head State Park
They’re still lots of other things for you to do at the park. Caesars Head connects to Jones Gap State Park to form the Mountain Bridge Wilderness Area. That a total of 13,000 acres of unspoiled forest. From Caesars Head, you have access to over 60 miles of hiking trails. Some are loops and others lead into Jones Gap. You’ll find trails to suit any fitness level form easy to strenuous.
Six waterfalls are accessible through the park including Raven Cliff Falls, a 420 foot fall over Matthews Creek. The trail to the Raven Cliff Overlook is only 4 miles round trip, but if you’re feeling adventurous, you can try the 6.6 mile trail to a suspension bridge above the falls. There you’ll be treated to a view of the falls plunging into the valley below.
If hiking isn’t your thing, Caesars Head offers plentiful opportunities for fishing, picnicking, and even primitive camping. Wildlife is plentiful at Caesars Head. Birdwatchers will find 167 species of bird. Other wildlife you may encounter on the trails are black bear, peregrine falcons, and the endangered Green Salamander.
Access to the overlook is free, but trail access starts at $3.00 for adults, $1.50 for seniors, and $1.00 for kids aged 6-15 with children 5 and under free. The park is open from 9 am to 9 pm during daylight savings time but closes at 6 pm the rest of the year.
Fast Facts about Caesar’s Head State Park
|Admission:||Overlook and Picnic Tables Are Free!|
Trail access: $3 adults; $1.50 seniors; $1 children age 6-15; age 5 & younger free
|Hours:||9 am-9 pm during daylight saving time. 9am-6pm the remainder of the year|
|Location:||8155 Greer Hwy, Cleveland, SC 29635|
Things to do at Caesars Head: Spectacular views from the overlook, picnicking, hiking, fishing, hunting