Oconee County South Carolina
Home Sign up for Highlander Newsletter Order Free Brochures and & More Info Purchase Unique Gifts, Books, Photos & Artwork

Chattooga River • Lake Jocassee • Lake Keowee • Hartwell Lake  
Westminster • Walhalla • Oconee County • South Carolina Up Country

Travel • Real Estate • Horseback Riding • Lodging • Restaurants • White Water and Outdoor Adventure

The "Upcountry" has been a land revered by South Carolinians since colonial time. This region of the Great Blue Ridge Mountains is virtually in the upper northwestern back wall of the state of South Carolina.

First settled in the 1720's this remote region of South Carolina developed rather independently from the low-country of Charleston and central South Carolina. Five counties make up the "Upcountry" region of South Carolina with Oconee County being to the farthest northwest corner.

During the American Revolution, a great number of lowland and coastal South Carolinians were loyal to the British. Early settlers of the "Upcountry," were not. These American Patriots resisted the invasion of the British backed colonial troops from the south, led by British commander Major Patrick Ferguson. Remove this group of poorly armed and trained American Patriots, and the British could have completed the defeat of the southern colonies and marched north to destroy the Continental Army led by Georgia Washington. Little did the British know, these formidable mountain folks were no push over. Using guerrilla tactics learned in back country battles with Native Americans, the mountain folks of the "Upcountry" not only resisted the English Loyalist, they also defeated and destroyed the army that was sent against them, turning the fate of the war. This forced Cornwallis to advance directly north to engage Washington, leaving the southern colonies undefeated. The word "Upcountry" Chattooga Riverhas become synonymous to the idea of freedom and independence in South Carolina.

The Chattooga River is a popular fishing destination and very popular river for whitewater rafting and kayaking as well as canoeing, tubing, swimming, hiking and camping. It is considered a crown jewel of the southern whitewater rivers. The Chattooga River's class 4 and 5 rapids have earned it a "world class'' status amongst rivers.

We exit the eastern banks of the Chattooga River at the corner boundaries of northwestern South Carolina and enter Oconee County. Continuing southeast on US 76 we enter South Carolina's beloved Sumter National Forest. "Upcountry," is the popular handle given to this region of the state by its local residents. "Upcountry" is a land of lakes, whitewater rapids, waterfalls, mountain wilderness, rolling farm lands and towns.

Walhalla: its oldest building dates back to 1792. It was originally built as one, in a series of blockhouses that acted as garrisons for troops protecting the South Carolina frontier until 1799. It became the Oconee Station after the railroad came, making Walhalla a railroad hub and final stop, due to the Blue Ridge Mountain wall barrier. Walhalla is a town rich in heritage and architecture, a historical church and stately homes, as well as an old downtown district with shops, galleries, dining and lodging, offering enjoyment for the casual strollers or the overnight visitors.

St. John Lutheran Church of Walhalla, South CarolinaStately Turn of the Century in Walhalla, South Carolina Downtown shopping in Walhalla, South Carolina

Westminster: is a quaint railroad town surrounded by farms and meadow lands. In order to find the old historical main street district of Westminster you'll need to drive to the middle of town, turn north off of US 76 and drive one block. The old depot stands along the tracks with the well preserved charm of Westminster's old shopping district just across the street. What you'll find along this historical avenue in Westminster, is an assortment of shopping, local dining and turn of the century architecture.

Westminster, South CarolinaWestminster, South Carolina

Both towns of Walhalla and Westminster are located only a few miles west of a chain of large lakes on the far eastern edge of Oconee County. Starting at the northern end, they are Lake Jocassee, Lake Keowee and Hartwell Lake. these lakes offer a wealth of water recreation to the "Upcountry" region of South Carolina.

Once again we return to Sumter National Forest as we begin our accent toward the highlands in the Blue Ridge Mountains of South Carolina. After traveling a few miles, we come to Oconee State Park, a great retreat for picnicking, camping, hiking and other nature adventures. Climbing higher on State Highway 107, we come to a pull off on the west side of the road. Moody Springs, named for an original settlers who lived nearby. Colonel Wade Hampton II, hero of the Battle of New Orleans and the Mexican War often stopped here, enroute to the "High Hamptons."

Hampton Trail

Climbing even higher on State Highway 107, we watch the "Upcountry's" low-land drop away to the east. The mountainous lands to the north and west are part of a three state wilderness of unspoiled land. Ellicott Rock Wilderness occupies space in the corner where South Carolina, Georgia and North Carolina meet. This 8,274 acre protected wilderness is for the serious outdoors adventurer. Hiking is the only accessible means to enjoy Ellicott Rock Wilderness. No motorized vehicles are permitted in the interior nor are bicycles or horses permitted.

Lake Jocassee,  UpCountry South Carolina

One of "Upcountry's" beautiful lakes, Lake Jocassee. Dukes Power Company operates this beautiful lake and waterway, its visitor's center offers tours of the hydro-plant's upper reservoir.

Lake Jocassee National Forestry in Oconee County Camping in Oconee County
Rivers, Creeks and Streams Fishing in Oconee County Hiking in Oconee County
  Picnic Sites in Oconee County  

Oconee County, "UpCountry" South Carolina


click map
for a larger image

Click for Westminster, South Carolina Forecast
Walhalla South Carolina - Weather.com

Westminster • Walhalla • Oconee County • South Carolina Up Country

Blue Ridge and Smoky Mountains
Sign up for the Blue Ridge Highlander Newsletter, Messages from the Mountains
to find out first about our new feature stories, road trips and special offers

Your e-mail addresses will not be sold or given away to anyone.
Privacy Policy

Interested in your business being on the Highlander, click here...

Let our visitors tell you about the Highlander...


Click the feathers to go to the Highlander site map...
Blue Ridge Smoky Mountain Highlander


The Blue Ridge Highlander logo, all photography, design, graphics, artwork, writing, digital images, etc are the Copyright ©
of C. Wayne Dukes and Sherry Bell Dukes. 1996 - 2014, except where otherwise stated. All rights reserved, reproduction,
downloading, and/or duplication of any sort is strictly prohibited, all violations will be prosecuted. Legal Policy.
If you have any questions, or comments, regarding this site, e-mail the Highlander.