Devil's Kitchen at Caesars Head State Park
Devil's Kitchen is a little area that’s nestled in Caesars Head State Park—about fifty minutes northeast of Greenville.
Some friends of mine suggested I go up there for writing inspiration! They said, “There’s some little place you can crawl through. It’s really cool. Other fun stuff.”
Idk—I heard “Devil's Kitchen” and was enchanted by the thought. I could just picture Satan himself standing there in a fun little apron, offering me a vegan chocolate chip cookie that was fresh out of the oven. Or, perhaps, lovingly stirring some hearty organic veggie soup over a cauldron.
There are a couple routes you can take to get to Devil's Kitchen from Greenville, but I chose the more rural route that takes you through ‘Pumpkintown’ (obviously).
I decided to go on any other day than Saturday because the last man that I went out with goes hiking there every Saturday, and I'm trying to avoid an awkward run-in. Long story short, we got into a text argument about the finite vs. infinite universe, I shouted, “I’m Perfect.” via text—woke up at 2 am the next morning and sent him a back of gummy dicks off Amazon with a gift note that said “Go F*%# Yourself. From, Jennifer.”
We’re no longer speaking.
So yeah, I headed up to the park on a Tuesday afternoon.
First, I stopped by Swamp Rabbit Cafe (it was right on the way, yay!)!
Swamp Rabbit Cafe is a cafe & grocery store right off the Swamp Rabbit Trail. The grocery store carries lots of fresh (and local) produce, and the cafe has a wide variety of breakfast & lunch options, smoothies, etc.
I ordered a Viva La Vegan Sandwich to go at the cafe and grabbed a (fancy) Aura Bora ‘Cactus Rose’ Sparkling Water in the grocery section—as an offering to Satan.
If you’re waiting for your food to be prepared, I suggest either:
1) peruse the grocery store *note; pay outside rather than asking everyone in the store if they work there; when they (in fact) do not work there.
Or 2) hang out over by the building with the bicycle painted on it—watch the cyclists go by and listen to the birds.
Anyway, lunch in hand, I got back in my car and headed up to Devil's Kitchen.
Passing through Pumpkintown, I drove by a large old-fashioned-potentially-
So the rest of the ride up the state park was beyond scenic.
When I first got to Cesar’s Head, I parked by the overlook near the visitors center. There were some little picnic tables in the sun, and it was a little chilly, so I thought I’d sit there and warm up (Cesar’s Head was a good 5-10ish degrees cooler than Greenville, so I’d suggest bringing a sweatshirt or light windbreaker).
After I found the perfect picnic table, I sat down and meticulously placed my Viva La Vegan and Sparkling Water on the table in front of me. “Oh my gosh, an owl and a cactus!” I shrieked—and picked up the can of water to see what else was on it. That’s when I read this: “Our sparkling waters are made with herbs, fruits, and flowers for earthly tastes and heavenly feelings.” “Oh my God, Satan can’t have this,” I exclaimed and cracked open the can to enjoy for myself. I also figured I’d just go ahead and eat the sandwich, too.
My Viva La Vegan sandwich was super delicious. It was packed with flavor from the house-made beet hummus and mustardy slaw abundant with carrots. Oh, and the bread was that delicious crunchy, chewy bread sprinkled with sea salt.
The Aura Bora sparkling water was quite heavenly—with robust Rose notes. I’m not really sure if it tasted like Cactus or not (because I’m not really sure what cactus tastes like).
It was *so* peaceful sitting in the sun and listening to the birds.
So (fyi) Devils Kitchen is past the overlook. If you’re at the Visitors Center, walk up the hill, and you’ll see a bridge on the left that takes you out to (more scenic, other) overlook.
The day I was there, it was abnormally overcast, which was ah-mazing because it added an eerie sort of vibe to the trip.
After the overlook, head down to your right, and you’ll see a sign that says “Devils Kitchen.”
Follow the sign to the stairs. As you walk down the narrow stairs, you’ll feel the temperature drop even more, and the air becomes crisp and clean.
Once you get down the bottom of the stairs, you’ll have to shimmy (kind of) through the rock formation.
After you pass through the rock formation, don’t forget to look back (it adds a completely different perspective)!
Side note; there’s a lot of sinister lore related to how Devil’s Kitchen was formed. Some involve alcohol, other demonic spirits, some science, and yet another—Mario Batali.
Once you’re through the crack in the rock formation—you’ll arrive at another (more secluded) overpass.
This particular overlook was my favorite. Lots of hearts were carved into the railing with random initials in them. I'm sure my future husband time-traveled to carve our initials somewhere on here, I thought.
Next, you’ll come to a little woodsy area, and then *et voila* you’re back at the parking lot.
Note; Devil's Kitchen is not really a hike but rather more of a roadside attraction but with way less glass animals. 1000% worth the trip!
Although, caesars head has an abundance of hiking trails!
On my way home, I was soooo excited to go to Pumpkin Mountain Gift shop in Pumpkintown, which I had seen on the drive up.
As I neared the gift shop & cafe, a car quickly pulled behind me…I had to increase my speed exponentially to avoid getting run off the road. Admittedly—it was horrifying yet simultaneously the most fun I’ve had in a good two years. Luckily, I saw the turn for Pumpkin Mountain Gift Shop and cafe and pulled in—only to realize that it was closed. “Why Pumpkin Town? Why?!” I shouted as I began to sob in their turnaround. “All I wanted was a souvenir! Perhaps a pumpkin-themed mug?!”
Once I got back home, I googled Pumpkin Mountain and saw they’re only open Friday-Monday. Then I cried some more in the shower.