Try Pleasant Ridge for getaway or retreat

08/16/2013 1:45 PM

08/16/2013 4:36 PM

Built in the 1950s to serve South Carolina’s black population while Paris Mountain State Park served a white population, Pleasant Ridge – deeded to Greenville County by the state in the 1970s – now serves special-needs populations as well as visitors at large.

Distance

From Charlotte, it’s about 105 miles, a two-hour drive.

To see and do

Pleasant Ridge Park, nestled alongside the Cherokee Foothills Scenic Highway (SC 11), for many years, was a small, but “pleasant” component of Greenville County’s Recreation District. It continues to offer camping in 25 tent and small RV-compatible sites, a couple of hiking trails, playgrounds, picnic shelters, two rental cabins and a great fishing pond. A central bathhouse facility includes showers.

Camping is available from early March to late October; the cabins and lake, year-round. The smallness of the traditional park at Pleasant Ridge makes it an attractive option to many, especially if you like the simplicity of being outdoors without having a “city” of other campers around you. Rates vary by day of week.

About three years ago the park expanded, with the building of the Pleasant Ridge Camp and Retreat Center. Marty Daigle, facility manager, notes this new addition has many opportunities for public use but “during the summer months dedicates a large amount of its facilities and resources to special- needs children and adults.” This is usually mid-May through mid-August.

For the remainder of the year, the retreat part of the park is open to private functions ranging from family reunions and weddings to corporate events such as retreats and team building. Facilities include a large banquet/meeting hall with meal prep that can handle up to 300 people, lodging for up to 160 people in climate-controlled “cabins,” a challenge and ropes course and a pool complex.

Programs include team building, traditional day camp activities and more recently, paddling programs.

This unusual park offers a blend of traditional camping experiences and more refined group retreat and event experiences.

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