Although Sassafras Mountain is the highest point in South Carolina at 3,553 feet, it doesn’t get a lot of credit because there’s really never been much to see. The summit has always been covered with trees so there has never been any kind of view to tempt you to climb the mountain. And Duke Energy has a communications tower plunked on top, not a pretty thing.
The Foothills Trail comes up and crosses the summit and there is even a large parking lot just short of the top used mainly by folks on the trail. Recently, though, a viewing platform was built at the level of the parking lot. While it is a nice view over toward Lakes Keowee and Jocassee, the view is not from the top.
On the summit, you’ll find a Geodetic Survey marker but this is not actually the highest point. That lies about 20 yards away under a pine tree. A marker was placed in the summer of 2012 designating the true apex.
Doing anything with the top of the mountain has been problematic because the NC/SC state line runs right through the summit so to do anything productive up there involves dealing with 2 states. That got easier when the Conservation Fund donated 4.8 acres on the NC side to the SC Department of Natural Resources so DNR now has control of the entire summit.
Other improvements are coming, too. Pickens County will be improving the road to the top and Duke says it is amenable to finding another location for their tower. That would clear the way for a 60 foot observation tower at the top to provide views in all directions.
Sassafras deserves better than it is getting right now. These changes would make our highest point more of a destination worthy of the short drive to the summit.