Quirky Attraction: Parson’s Gold Mines in Sumter National Forest

parsons gold mines

Parson’s Mountain Gold Mines in Sumter National Forest
Location: Parson’s Mountain Recreation Area, near Abbeville, South Carolina
When to visit: Daytime hours
Cost: Free
Time needed to enjoy: 10 minutes (the hike to get there may take around 30 minutes)
Website: https://www.sctrails.net/trails/trail/parson-s-mountain-tower-and-lake (unofficial)

Once, while relaxing at a quiet South Carolina campground for a couple days, I unexpectedly came across abandoned Civil War-era gold mines during a day hike. What a quirky thing to stumble upon!

They’re called the Parson’s Mountain Gold Mines and they date back to the mid-1800s during South Carolina’s Gold Rush days. The mine shafts are now surrounded by fencing, but you can look way down into them and imagine the days when people tried to hit the jackpot by excavating these precious materials.

parsons gold mines

The mines are found on the Tower Trail in the Parson’s Mountain Recreation Area. This is probably the most off-the-beaten-path quirky attraction I’ve written about so far, because it requires at least a 20- to 30-minute hike up the hill to see them. The trail runs past a nice lake before heading up toward the top of the hill, which is the highest point in South Carolina.

parsons mountain lake

I’ve seen abandoned mine shafts from a distance before, but never this close. It was a fascinating sight and made me want to crawl down inside them… but I probably would have never made it back out.

Quirky Attraction: The Studebaker Museum in South Bend, Indiana


  1. They actually have a gold mine in operation currently a mile away from the mountain. It’s more like a strip mine. Been in operation since around 2009 and now it’s 2015

  2. Good thing you didn’t crawl down, because otherwise who would write the post? 🙂 How fun that you found this off the beaten path place – the unexpected discoveries are sometimes the best 🙂

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