As most avid camping enthusiasts have come to realize, scoring a campground reservation has become a challenging task. Over the last year, it seems countless people have discovered the joys of camping. I, for one, think this is a fantastic thing: the world would be a better place if more humans learned to appreciate the great outdoors. Nevertheless, my husband and I have started playing the “let’s camp at whatever state park actually has room” game. Which is how we wound up at Sadlers Creek State Park on a Sunday afternoon in June.
Sadlers Creek State Park: A Review
Located in Anderson, South Carolina, Sadlers Creek State Park is a 395 acre park on a peninsula jetting into the 56,000 acre Lake Hartwell (that’s a big lake!).
Having been here once before for a 24 hour ultramarathon (Sadlers Creek Stumble), the initial appeal of Sadlers Creek, for us, was the 6 miles of gorgeous, winding trails. Paddling our kayaks and stand up paddleboards were our second priority.
Lake front campsites were simply an added bonus.
Camping at Sadlers Creek State Park
There are three separate campsite loops at Sadlers Creek State park, two on the Southwestern side of the park, and one on the Northern end of the park. In total, there are 51 standard campsites for RVs or tents, and 14 sites for tent camping only.
If you’ve not heard of the website “campsitephotos.com”, and you frequent State Parks, I highly recommend you bookmark it. And then like my husband and I do, spend hours pouring over the tiny photos, trying to determine if you can, indeed, drag your kayak down to the waters edge from your campsite. Because the website seems to cater mostly to RV’s, we learned rather quickly (with a big initial campsite fail at Poinsett) that what they consider a “best site” doesn’t necessarily equate to what we would consider the “best site”. We’ll take the uneven site in trade for a gorgeous view, thank you very much.
Alas, my friends, our deep scrutinization paid off, for we scored what we would discover would be the BEST site in all of Sadlers Creek State Park: site # 33
Site #33: A slice of Paradise
When we arrived at Sadlers Creek State Park, it was raining. Geoff quickly got to setting up our little fortress: our tent under a carefully secured tarp. I was assigned “put all the groceries we just bought into the cooler” duty. Which, incase you are wondering – there is a Food Lion less than 15 minutes away.
But shortly after our campsite setup was complete, the clouds dissipated and the sun came out…and we were in heaven. We did not hesitate to put on our swimsuits, drag our chairs and boats down to the waters edge, and start enjoying our time on Lake Hartwell (More on that below).
Besides the obvious: a campsite with a gorgeous view, we were impressed with how much more space this campsites at Sadlers had in comparison to many of the other State Parks we’ve visited. Sure, we could see our neighbors from our site, but there was more than enough space between us to feel that we were still private and secluded.
And the sunset? Breathtaking.
And as an added bonus: when a gnarly storm rolled in on our second night in the park, our lovely neighbors set up the extra bed in their RV for us “just in case”. I love seeing the good side of humanity that still exists, and you so often find that in a campground. Thank you, lovely couple from Atlanta. Even though we successfully weathered that night in our tent, your hospitality will always be remembered!
Kayaking on Lake Hartwell
As Vermonters living in Coastal South Carolina, I’d be lying if I didn’t admit how much we miss floating carelessly in fresh water. Sure, I’m certain some of my neighbors here in town have no qualms about swimming with alligators and water moccasins in the dark-tea-colored “black water” of the Waccamaw River or other local lakes and ponds. But for this New Englander, it’s always nice to head just far enough North to where you know the alligators aren’t regulars.
Lake Hartwell is one of those places.
This massive man-made reservoir that separates South Carolina and Georgia is perfect for all sorts of water activites. While visiting Sadlers Creek State Park we:
- SUP’d (stand up paddle board)
- floated on aforementioned SUP in tiny circles next to our campsite enjoying the sunshine
In the tiny cove next to our campsite, the water was calm, clear, and the perfect temperature for swimming. As we paddled further out into the lake – like when we went on a 3 mile trip to try and find a geocache that was no longer there (spoiler alert) – we quickly discovered that the open water was much more prone to wind, and thus, waves.
But paddling along the shoreline helped protect us from the elements. Further, it allowed us to discover a handful of sandy, private beaches along the perimeter of the park.
Sadlers Creek State Park Trail System
The crux of this trip for us: the trail system at Sadlers Creek. Unfortunately – and at no one’s fault but our own – we weren’t aware that logging was currently going on in the park. As such, all but maybe 2 miles of the trails were closed off to users. Further, much of what was open was littered with logging debris. From an outsiders perspective, it was a mess. However, I completely understand that logging is often a vital part of the forestry management. And hopefully, this slight inconvenience to us will only result in a beautiful, healthy forest for years to come.
Nevertheless, we rode our bikes on every inch of open trail.
In normal times, the biking trail at Sadlers Creek State Park is 6 miles of beginner friendly mountain biking, hiking, or running trail. The single track trail winds through the forest, and alongside the lake giving breathtaking views.
And some of the views are still breathtaking.
Though some, currently look like this:
If you head to the park office, you can find a trail map posted of what is currently open, and what sections are still closed.
Pine Grove Nature Trail
Beginning near the kiosk at the main pavilion, there is a 0.6 mile loop nature trail that is easily accessible for people of all ages and abilities. It winds through the frisbee golf course (more on that later), and includes a number of educational signs to teach you about the flora and fauna of the area. If you’re looking for a short, non difficult stroll through the woods, this is a great trail to start with.
Other things to see and do at Sadlers Creek State Park
Kayaking and mountain biking not your thing? Don’t worry, there’s more! Other activities at the park include:
A disc golf course, located within the Pinegrove Nature Trail:
Geocaching. There’s a couple of caches within the park itself, and if you’re up for a paddle, more within a few miles spread around the perimeter of the lake.
Fishing. While not my thing we saw countless people fishing from the shore, the pier, or on boats.
Two playgrounds, one located near the office / main pavilion, and the other between campground loops 2 &3.
There’s also a swimming beach near the main pavilion, horseshoes, and multiple picnic tables and mini pavilions for day use.
Sadlers Creek State Park Final Thoughts:
If you are looking for a quiet campground in the Upstate of South Carolina with no shortage of outdoor activities, this is definitely a winner. Despite the condition of the trails, the park as a whole was incredibly well maintained, with something to offer every outdoor enthusiast.
It should be noted that unlike some of the larger South Carolina State Parks, there is no store on site to purchase firewood or ice, so definitely bring some from home or visit the grocery stores in town, a quick 15 minutes away.
Sadlers Creek is a beautiful park, one that I would not hesitate to visit time and time again.