Best places to get out and away

Biggest in the S.C. system

MOUNTAIN BRIDGE WILDERNESS AREA (CAESARS HEAD/JONES GAP STATE PARKS): 12,000 acres. Great trails, waterfalls and vistas northwest of Greenville on N.C. line. Walk trail to 420-foot Raven Cliff Falls and cross the suspension bridge. $2 admission. (864-836-6115)

CHERAW STATE PARK: 7,362 acres. Attractions at this sandhills getaway range from Lake Juniper to 18-hole golf course. Free admission. (843-537-9656)

CROFT STATE NATURAL AREA: 7,053 acres. Park in Spartanburg County has 12 miles of biking/hiking trails and two lakes for fishing and boating. Got a horse? This place has 20 miles of equestrian facilities (including arena) and 55 stalls. $2 admission. (864-585-1283)

KINGS MOUNTAIN STATE PARK: 6,884 acres. Right over the N.C. line from Kings Mountain, and a draw for hikers, campers, bikers and horseback fans. Also here: a living history farm. $2 admission. (803-222-3209)

HUNTING ISLAND STATE PARK: 5,000 acres. Semi-tropical barrier island on coast near Beaufort has a five-mile beach, wildlife, a range of habitats and a lighthouse. $4 admission. (843-838-2011)

Most-visited places in 2009

MYRTLE BEACH STATE PARK: 1,296,052 visitors. No surprise this is No. 1. Offerings include a beach with great sand and shells, a fishing pier... and a campground has inexpensive accommodations not far from the Grand Strand attractions. $4 admission. (843-238-5325)

HUNTING ISLAND STATE PARK: 1,118,705 visitors. This semi-tropical barrier island on coast near Beaufort has a 5-mile beach, wildlife, a range of habitats and a lighthouse. $4 admission. (843-838-2011)

HUNTINGTON BEACH STATE PARK: 1,118,451 visitors. Enjoy fishing, beaches plus Atalaya - the Moorish-style winter home of the millionaire couple that once owned this Murrells Inlet expanse. $5 admission. (843-237-4440)

TABLE ROCK STATE PARK: 311,195 visitors. Upcountry beauty on the edge of the Blue Ridge. Park near Pickens has two lakes, a campground, mountain cabins, lodge, etc. $2 admission. (864-878-9813)

HICKORY KNOB STATE RESORT PARK: 299,452 visitors. The only full-service resort in the S.C. park system is on wooded shoreline of dammed Savannah River. Its golf course is deemed "a great value" by Golf Digest. No admission charge. (864-391-2450)

Least-visited places in 2009

REDCLIFFE STATE HISTORIC SITE: 2,612 visitors. The 1859 plantation/mansion of Sen. James Henry Hammond overlooks Savannah River, near Augusta, Ga. Attractions include preserved slave quarters and an heirloom garden. No charge to tour grounds; $4 for mansion tour. (803-827-1473)

WOODS BAY STATE NATURAL AREA: 2,768 visitors. Habitats at 1,590-acre Sandhills tract are lush with animal life. Fishing, wildlife-viewing, photography and picnicking are popular. No admission charge. (843-659-4445)

RIVERS BRIDGE STATE HISTORIC SITE: 3,348 visitors. It's near Ehrhardt, and is the locale of one of the last Civil War battles in the Carolinas (Feb. 2-3, 1865). No admission charge. (803-267-3675)

ROSE HILL PLANTATION STATE HISTORIC SITE: 3 ,399 visitors. Plantation grounds/mansion near Union were owned by Civil War Gov. William H. Gist. The site includes a short hiking trail to the Tyger River. $4 for mansion tour. (864-427-5966)

OCONEE STATION STATE HISTORIC SITE: 10,612 visitors. It's in extreme northwest South Carolina, and was Army's frontier blockhouse in late 1700s. No admission charge. (864-638-0079)