Marie McAden



Chapel perched on 'Pretty Place' has breathtaking views

Posted 6/8/2011 1:26:00 PM

In recent weeks, I’ve told you about two great little roadside attractions in the Mountain Bridge Wilderness Area. I have one more for you — and it’s a real gem. But unlike Bald Rock and Wildcat Branch Falls, “Pretty Place” is a fair piece off the main mountain roads of U.S. 276 and S.C. 11.

Part of the 1,600-acre YMCA Camp Greenville, this sweet spot is located on the South Carolina/North Carolina border atop Standing Stone Mountain. It is officially known as the Fred W. Symmes Chapel, but in the South Carolina Upcountry, everybody calls it by its appropriately dubbed nickname — Pretty Place.

And oh, yes, the view is breathtaking! Perched on the edge of Cleveland Cliff, the chapel overlooks the Mountain Bridge Wilderness Area and Jones Gap State Park. It’s all verdant forest and mountains as far as you can see.

Built in 1941 with seating for 300 to 400 guests, the open-air chapel serves as the spiritual center of the boys’ and girls’ camp and a popular venue for memorial services, dedications and weddings. More than 100 couples tie the knot each year in this unique outdoor setting.

Camp Greenville graciously allows visitors to enjoy the view and the serenity of this mountaintop retreat during daylight hours, so long as it is not being used by the camp or reserved for a private event.

Take note: the chapel is almost always booked Saturdays and Sundays. We found this out on our first trip out to Pretty Place. To avoid a wasted drive, call the camp office at (864) 836-3291, extension 100, to check the schedule before your visit.

Located about five miles from U.S. 276, take the mountain road to the South Carolina/North Carolina border. Make a right onto YMCA Camp Road (also known as Solomon Jones Road) and follow it to the camp. Once on the property, signs will direct you to the chapel.

One more word of warning. I’ve been told web mapping applications and GPS devices might take you on a less-than ideal route or to the wrong location all together. Check the YMCA Camp Greenville website for more information.