Located in Greenville County near its border with North Carolina, Caesars Head State Park was established in 1979. In 1996 the park became part of the Mountain Bridge Wilderness Area, which also includes Jones Gap State Park and Wildcat Wayside. Formed about 409 million years ago, Caesars Head rises 3,266 feet above sea level on the southern edge of the Blue Ridge Escarpment. It is a granitic gneiss formation protruding above the valley as a prominent monadnock.
The Blue Ridge region receives the greatest precipitation in South Carolina, and the rainfall at Caesars Head averages seventy-nine inches annually. The streams and rivers formed by the surface water include the Middle Saluda River, Matthews Creek, Coldspring Branch, and Oil Camp Creek. The biodiversity of the park is represented by more than 500 species of plants, 44 species of reptiles and amphibians, 41 species of mammals, 159 species of birds, and 10 species of fish.
The 7,467-acre park once belonged to the Cherokees but was ceded to the state in 1816. By the mid–nineteenth century 500 acres at Caesars Head had been purchased by Colonel Benjamin Hagood, who built a hotel there in 1860. By the 1920s a highway had been constructed. Houses were built and a small summer community developed at Caesars Head.
How this mountain resort got its name is not known. Prominent among the legends are three versions. The first involves a hunting dog named Caesar. This dog jumped off the cliff while in pursuit of his prey, and the distraught owner named the cliff after his dog. A second is concerned with the corruption of the Cherokee word for Indian Chief, sachem. The final simply says that the rock resembles the profile of Julius Caesar.
Murphy, Carolyn H. Carolina Rocks! The Geology of South Carolina. Orangeburg, S.C.: Sandlapper, 1995.