Devils Kitchen at Caesars Head State Park – Cleveland, South Carolina - Atlas Obscura

Cleveland, South Carolina

Devils Kitchen at Caesars Head State Park

According to local lore, this narrow passageway through two large rocks was accidentally created by the devil himself. 

Nestled on the Blue Ridge Mountains of South Carolina, Caesars Head State Park is known for its spectacular views of the Mountain Bridge Wilderness Area, and is named for a granitic gneiss rock formation located atop the escarpment.

The origin of the name “Caesars Head” is disputed, though some have claimed the rock bears a resemblance to the famous Roman general. Trails throughout the park offer beautiful views of the mountainous landscape. The short path to the viewing area that overlooks the Caesars Head rock passes through another intriguingly named geological curiosity, a narrow passageway between two giant rocks, called “Devils Kitchen.”

When the trail reaches Devils Kitchen, a set of stairs descends deep down into the rocky gap, which is just wide enough for a person to pass through. The formation was created thousands of years ago, as water on the mountain froze and expanded, causing the rock to crack open from the pressure. The granitic gneiss, a type of metamorphic rock, breaks at a 90-degree angle when it cracks, which formed the narrow passage flanked by tall rock walls.

The name of the geological formation is another story. It comes from a myth dating back to the days when the area was settled by Scots-Irish immigrants who enjoyed brewing their own alcohol. According to the story, the Devil himself made a particularly hot brew here, and spilled a drop of it on the rock, splitting the rock open on the spot.

Shortly after passing through the Devils Kitchen, the trail arrives at a small overlook offering a panoramic view of the eponymous Caesars Head rock formation.

Know Before You Go

The park is about 30 miles from Greenville off Route 276 W. The parking lot and Visitor Center are at the top of the mountain. The park has an interpretive center, gift shop, bookstore, and several picnic areas. The trail through Devils Kitchen is an easy hike just a short distance from the Visitor Center to the Caesars Head overlook, however walking through the crack in the rocks requires descending a fairly steep set of stairs. Proceed with caution. 

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