One of the finest state parks in South Carolina, the Calhoun Falls State Recreation Area is set on a peninsula that juts out into Lake Russell in the northwest corner of Abbeville County. Although named Calhoun Falls, there are not actually any waterfalls in the park itself. Instead, this stunning lakeside area incorporates 318 acres of pine forests around the Lake area. The Calhoun Falls State Recreation Park is a scenic backcountry park that provides an excellent opportunity to get back to basics and enjoy Mother Nature at her very finest. With no private development, this is the perfect destination to explore miles upon miles of unspoiled scenery and natural diversity.
The Calhoun Falls Campground has 100 sites for tent camping, 82 for RV camping, and 14 walk-in sites available. There are three different campgrounds within the Recreation Area, with shoreline sites as well as secluded spots for more primitive style camping. This is ideal for families, with a great set up and a warm and friendly atmosphere for all ages, as well as excellent playground equipment to keep the little ones entertained. Enjoy tennis and basketball on the courts, picnic in one of the many spots, or opt for a waterfront campsite and spend your evening marveling at the phenomenal sunsets over the river.
The Calhoun State Park is situated at 46 Maintenance Shop Rd, Calhoun Falls, South Carolina 29628. If you are heading to Calhoun Falls from Highway 72, take the Hwy 81, N at the intersection, proceed for one mile, and the park is just on the left. Alternately, you can also take I-85, exit 19 towards Hwy. 76S, then two miles on to the 28 bypass. Continue for around five miles before turning onto Hwy 81S for 30 miles, and the entrance to the park will be on your right-hand side.
There is ample parking at Calhoun Falls, and each campsite has space for two vehicles. If you are looking to visit for the day, you will need to pay a small fee at the gates. Getting around the park is usually on foot or by bike. However, golf carts are permitted in the park, but you must be a licensed driver to ride one, and they are not allowed after dark. Your golf cart must be fully insured, and you must possess the permits required by the SCDMV, which should be displayed at all times. If you have any issues regarding accessibility, contact the Park Office for more information about the assistance and support available.
Public transport within the area is minimal, and you will probably need to drive to this rural location. However, this can be handy as may also want to visit the nearby city of Abbeville or one of the other state parks in the surrounding area that offer various activities and events.
Offering spacious campsites in the secluded backcountry, the Calhoun Falls State Recreation Area has three campgrounds within the park itself – two of which have both water and electrical hook-ups. Each of them has a potable water supply and a range of facilities, including a centralized dump station. Each campground also has bathroom facilities with hot showers available.
Two out of the three campgrounds have RV spaces, one of which allows RVs up to 40 feet, and the other has a maximum of 30 feet. There is a maximum of two vehicles and six people at each campsite and a minimum two-night stay. You are welcome to bring your dog, but there are areas throughout the park where they are not permitted, and dogs must be leashed and under control at all times. However, it should be noted that there is no Wi-Fi available, and cell phone signal coverage across the park can be sketchy at best. If you plan to cook, grills are not permitted, but some sites do have a fire ring for a traditional camp cookout. If you have forgotten any basic supplies, you can pick them up along with souvenirs, groceries, firewood, and fishing tackle and bait at the Park Store and Gift Shop.
At Calhoun Falls, there is a gorgeous beach set out for freshwater swimming in the calm waters of Lake Russell. The designated swimming area is open during high season and is a popular spot among visitors to the Park. However, it should be noted that they are no lifeguards at the beaches, so swim within your limits and stay safe.
At Calhoun Falls, there are 36 rental boat slips, which can be rented on an annual basis. Thirty-two of them have access to water and electricity and sewage pump out, as well as access to bathrooms complete with hot showers and in-boat refueling.
If you have a boat of your own, don't leave it at home. Boat rentals are not available at the park. Luckily, there are several companies nearby with canoes and kayaks to loan.
Fishing is a popular pastime at Calhoun, with plenty of fish in Lake Russell and the chance to catch bass, crappie, bream, walleye, stripers, and catfish. Plus, visitors can borrow fishing equipment free of charge through the Tackle Loaner program, just enquire at the park office for more information. However, if you are fishing in the park, always ensure that you check local restrictions, and a South Carolina Fishing license is required.
Suitable for beginners, the Cedar Bluff Nature Trail is a 175m loop trail that begins by the tennis courts. There are some moderate inclines, but the trail also features a few lookout spots that provide some of the most Instagram-worthy spots in the park. However, most hiking trails in the park are relatively level and peaceful! It is advised that you ensure that you wear appropriate hiking gear, and pack some waterproofs as the weather can be quite changeable.
Don your tennis whites and serve an ace in the countryside at Calhoun! Visitors can play tennis on one of the courts at Calhoun Falls situated in the day-use area of the park. It's not common to find these kinds of sporting facilities at a public park, so why not enjoy it?
Alternatively, there are also basketball courts nearby if you would prefer to shoot some hoops! It's a great way to let off some steam after a busy day on the water.
Ride your horse through picturesque countryside and South Carolina wilderness. Horse riding is permissible on the designated trails in the area. There are over 35 miles of horse trails on the Lake Russell shores, and ranches nearby that offer training and trail riding. To access the ten miles of horse trail in the McCalla State Natural Area, contact Calhoun Falls State Park Office to register and request the gate combination.