While South Carolina may not be plentiful with mountainous terrain, there are several good places to find some 4x4 fun! Francis Marion National Forest has off road trails that are for the most part flat, with some bumps and mud and the coastal areas have some fun beach terrain.
Planning a Trip to Gulches
Nestled in Western SC, in the Indian Mounds area of Laurens County, Gulches ORV Park is a small family owned and operated rock crawling, hill climbing park that is the only legal place in South Carolina for full-size 4x4s to play. They operate on weekends and definitely experience weather closures so be sure to check out their website for the latest info on their hours which get updated on Thursdays.
Passes for the park are super reasonable with day, weekend, and passenger rates. They even offer some modest camping options from over a dozen primitive sites, to several camper/RV sites that have electric and water. Camping options include park access and several passenger passes. There are over 50 trails that cover all skill levels from easy and intermediate to difficult and "wait, that's actually a trail" insane.
Gulches Trail System
The park is essentially a big mountain that is circled by what is considered easy access roads, with the more difficult trails running up and down the hillsides. The map is easy to read and follow with clearly marked levels of difficulty. In addition to easy and intermediate, they offer three levels of challenging trails. One Black Diamond (Advanced), Two Black Diamonds (More Difficult), and the Skull and Crossbones (Most Difficult).
The map not only gives a visual of the trail system but on the back side it lists them by name, rating and gives a brief and very entertaining description of what you might expect on the trail. For example, "TnT Rock Garden" which is an advanced trail described as "Sometimes it's easy, sometimes it eats your axles!"
Equally entertaining are the trail names, like Pucker Point, Best of Intentions, Testosteroad, and That Damn Trail, to name just a few. There are even trails that have been carved out and named by different groups and 4x4 clubs such as The Clemson, TnT Bypass and Twisted Intentions.
Jeep Badge of Honor
The Gulches ORV Park is in and of itself, a Jeep Badge of Honor trail which makes it a great place for less experienced off-roaders to earn a badge while having a lot of choice over difficulty level. There are bypasses around the difficult trails and plenty of options when it comes to less challenging terrain. They even have options if you get stuck without the proper equipment or don't have Jeeple to help get you out, but of course, always off-road responsibly. After all Jeep does follow the Tread Lightly philosophy!
If tackling the rough stuff isn't for you, there are plenty of opportunities to pull off and watch those who may not be treading so lightly as they test their skills (and their lockers and roll cages) on some of the most insane trails! Spectator or participant, there's fun to be had by all!