Musgrove Mill State Historic Site

I hit Musgrove Mill at an unfortunate time for me. I’d sprained my ankle a few weeks earlier and was wearing a brace. That pretty much blew it for me hiking wise, although I managed to hobble a few steps anyway. More than a few steps really and I would have gone more, but sanity kicked in. I can always come back later and take the longer trails. A trip to Greenville was what brought me by the park since it sits a short drive off I26. I’d seen the sign for years, and now, desperate to visit a new park after having to stay close to Columbia, I stopped. A badly sprained ankle was not going to stop me.

The park sits along the Enoree river and sprawls into Laurens, Spartenburg, and Union counties. Most of the park is in Laurens. It’s on the site of the Revolutionary War battle, the Battle of Musgrove Mill. The date was the 19th of August, 1780. With the numbers of their side, the British loyalists thought it an easy victory, but the Patriot militia rallied and won the skirmish. The details of the battle are told in the visitor center and along the trails. I can’t do it justice here. Most of the fighting took place along the Enoree River.

The battle took place after the devastating loss in Camden and so was a turning point for the Americans.

Make sure to visit the visitor center to learn more. There are special events throughout the year, so check out the website for those. One of the activities is trying on a uniform. That would make a nice selfie.

There wasn’t anything going on when I visited, and after visiting the visitor center, I hobbled over to the gaze at ruins of the old house, then to the start of a trail where I decided it really was too far to go on my ankle. A pity.

There are two trails, both easy. The British Camp Trail is one mile and the Battlefield Trail is a little more at one point three miles. The former starts at the parking lot by the visitor center and the latter starts at the parking area on Horseshoe Falls Road on the other side of the Enoree River.

One has to drive to the falls on the other side of the river. It’s not far and it’s worth it. The falls are not far from the parking lot. I made it easy.

To visit the park is free and it’s open daily 9 am – 6pm

How to Get There:

From I26, exit 52 and go northeast on SC56. To get to the waterfall, drive over the Enoree River and turn left onto Horsehoe Falls Road.

Links:

https://southcarolinaparks.com/musgrove-mill

What’s Close By:

  • Sumter National Forest
  • Rose Hill Plantation S.H.S.
  • Laurens Historic District
  • Clinton Historic Commercial District
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SC174 Scenic Road – Edisto Island National Scenic Byway

 

Back in the 1970’s, when we drove from Columbia to Edisto Beach, it seemed like this stretch lasted forever. Like we’d entered the Twilight Zone and were doomed to go over the same stretch of road forever.

In my defense, I was a bored teen and we’d been on the road for hours, or so it felt.

It didn’t feel like that this time. I took in all the sights (and the road of course since I didn’t want to have an accident) and stopped at places of interest along the way.

This section of road, from the Mckinley Washington Bridge at Dawhoo Creek to Edisto Beach State Park became a South Carolina scenic byway in 1988. A little over twenty years later, 2009, the seventeen mile segment became a National Scenic Byway. Along the way, the road passes maritime forests, salt marshes and creeks, and historical sites. It pretty much represents the barrier island landscape typical of the southern South Carolina coast.

There’s a lot to see, more than one would imagine for a seventeen mile stretch especially if you want to take a proper look see.

 Oak Avenue to Botany Bay

In my day trip, I didn’t get to see all of it. My priority of the day was Botany Bay WMA and that took up most of day. It is well worth lingering over. I stopped at three historic churches, wandered a bit through Edisto Beach, the town, and took in the Intracoastal Waterway from the boat ramp at the bridge. I didn’t get to the state park, but I’ve been before, nor the aquarium or the museum. All of those cost a fee. The State Park is well worth the money, but I had to go home.

Edisto Island Presbyterian Church

The Mystery Tree

If you are able to camp or get a cabin at the state park, please take your time in visiting the places around here.

From SC174 you can visit :

  • Botany Bay
  • Edisto Beach State Park
  • Edisto Beach
  • Edisto Island Baptist Church
  • Edisto Island Presbyterian Church (oldest congregation in continuous existence in SC)
  • Mystery Tree
  • Old First Baptist Church

Zion Reformed Church

There’s also the Edisto Island Museum and the Serpenterian. Look online for hours and fees.

How to Get There:

From US17, drive south on SC174. It is west of Charleston.

Links:

https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/byways/byways/73595

What’s Close By:

  • ACE Basin National Wildlife Refuge
  • Dungannon Heritage Preserve
  • Caw Caw Interpretive Center
  • Charleston

Santee State Park

It was a coolish day when I went to visit this park, perfect for hiking and wandering around My first stop was the visitor center to get my booklet stamped so I can become an Ultimate Outsider. (If you don’t know about the program, go to the SC State Park website or wander into a state park to ask a ranger.) From there I hiked to the gift shop. Next to it is a pier that stretches out into Lake Marion. After partaking in the views of the lake I decided to buy some ice cream. Despite the cool temperature, I thought that would hit the spot. The shop was closed that day. I guess that was a sign I didn’t need ice cream after all and should save my money. Still, I was disappointed.

I’d wanted to take the Sinkhole Pond Trail, but it was closed at the time. I’d never have guessed this area was riddled with sinkholes. They form when the limestone located under the surface erode. Since I couldn’t take that one, I ended up on the Limestone Nature Trail and got a little more adventure than I bargained for.

Santee State Park is located in what’s called Santee Cooper Country and sits along Lake Marion, a popular fishing lake. The park is know for its rondette cabins that sit on piers over the lake. In addition to those ten cabins are 20 more cabins and multiple campsites. I have to say it must be pretty cool to sleep over the water. I made a detour to see them for myself.

The park is packed with activities including swimming, fishing, and picnicing as well as hiking and biking. You can take a pontoon boat tour of the flooded cypress forest created when Lake Marion was formed.

Besides the Sinkhole and the Limestone Trail there is a 7 1/2 half mile hike and bike trail, which starts near the entrance of the campground. The Oak Pinolly Trail is an easy one mile in and out, with a loop, trail.

The Limestone Nature Trail is described as making one feel as is one is at the mountains. The suggested wildlife that may be seen are deer, rabbits, and snakes. I mention these for a reason. After crossing a very nice bridge over a creek, I turned left, on the trail, to walk along the creek, which met with another creek, and the trail turned to follow that. An odd bit of green caught my eye. As my brain processed where I’d seen that green before, the shape flowed into the water. There was another small splash behind me. Alligators. So much for the mountain feel.

I stood there a moment. Part of me went: darn, I missed taking a picture. And another part of me thought: where do I go now? I ended up going straight, knowing I was too early for alligators to be aggressive, but still, it was a little too close for me.

So, word up, there are alligators in the park and be cautious on this trail especially if have little ones.

There is a fee to use the park

 

How To Get There:

Take I-95 to exit #98 and go west on SC #6 for 2.1 kilometers (1.3 miles), then turn right onto road #105. Go north on this road to the park entrance.

Links:

https://southcarolinaparks.com/santee

What’s Close By:

Lake Marion

Santee NWR

Fort Watson

Lake Moultrie

Sandy Beach WMA

Greenwood State Park

The drive I took from Columbia to Lake Greenwood wove through the counties of Saluda and Greenwood, past peach trees and several interesting buildings. It was a great start of the day to visit Lake Greenwood State Park. The park sits partially on a peninsula on the Greenwood County side of Lake Greenwood. Besides the lake, there’s a campground, nature trail, and picnic area and more.

Even without walking the nature trail, I trekked far in this park. From the parking lot, to the John Drummond and Holly Self Drummon Environmental Education Conference Center (what a mouthful). This building houses the Civilian Conservation Corp Museum, the park being one of sixteen built by the CCC in SC. and down to lake, along it, and back again, meandering all the while.

Make sure to stop near the entrance and read the plaques about the unfinished wall. The men working here with the CCC were building the wall, when war was declared against the Germans and Japanese. They all enlisted to fight. The unfinished wall is a good tribute to those who created this park and their sacrifice in World War II

Below the Drummon Center is a good place to go fishing. I saw several people engaged in that activity as I walked around. I’m afraid I don’t have the patience. I live to move around. It’s also a nice place to gaze at the 114,000 acre lake.

There’s swimming here too, but it’s at your own risk as there’s no lifeguard. Watch the little ones and even the bigger ones if they don’t know how to swim. Or you can go boating since there’s a ramp to put your boat in the water.

The park, which is 914 acres, was built on land donated by Greenwood County in 1938. It’s well worth the visit. I think there’s an ironman competition held here every year. Check the website to find out the date.

How to Get There

Exit 74 from I-26 and head west on SC34. Turn right on SC702. The park is off that road.

Links:

https://southcarolinaparks.com/lake-greenwood

What’s Close By:

Lake Greenwood

Ninety Six NHS

Ninety Six (the town)

Battle of Camden NHL

The Battle of Camden National Historic Landmark is a nice place not only to learn about history, but to take a walk in a pine forest setting.

The place is almost a surprise as one makes their way on RD58/Flat Rock Road, which bisects the battlefield. There are a number of trails to take and I choose the East Battlefield Trail and the Colonial Road. There are markers along the way that explain what happened.

A battle took place here on 16 August 1780 and was a victory for the British. The main players here were General Charles Cornwallis, British, and General Horatio Gates of the Continental army. I won’t go into too much detail as those more knowledgeable of the Revolutionary War and military matters may roll their eyes at my description. Fortunately there is an audio podcast that can explain this better than I can. And the signs along the trail are really helped.

The battle took place over an area of about 2,000 acres and partially in the dark as both forces marched through the night to attack one another. After some fighting, they stopped, starting up again at dawn. The Continental army did not do well at all. Some of the soldiers fled and the others were surrounded and captured. Their commanding officer, Baron Johann de Kalb, was mortally wounded. There’s a marker where he fell.

The scene now, as one walks through these woods and grasslands, is supposed to be pretty much like it was before. It’s peacefulness belies that this was where one of the deadliest battles of the Revolutionary War took place.

How to Get There:

On US521/US601, just north of Shamokin, take Flat Rock Road/RD58 northwest and look for the signs.

Links:

http://scgreatoutdoors.com/park-battleofcamdenlandmark.html

What’s Close By:

Historic Camden Revolutionary War Site

Camden

Goodale State Park

Lake Wateree

Croft State Park

After taking one hike in Croft State Park, and, as I headed for another, I knew that no way would I get to all I wanted to see. It’ll take me more than one day for this place. With over seven thousand acres, Croft S.P. is one of South Carolina’s Parks.

On this trip, I parked by the lake and walked nearly around it, wandering part way on the Palmetto Trail which goes through. The stretch through here is a tad over twelve miles. I don’t think I walked, but one mile of it. I did walk the entire Nature Trail, but that’s only one and a half mile, an easy, but enjoyable hike.

There are about twenty miles of hiking and biking trails in Croft State Park as well as over twenty miles of equestrian trails. Plus one can go boating and fishing in one of its two lakes. There’s also a campground.

This park, located in the foothills near Spartenburg, was once a U.S. Training base. The park opened in 1949 and was once known as Croft State Natural Area. It is popular with equestrians because of its facilities. But even if you don’t have a horse, you can enjoy all the trails that weave through the hilly terrain.

That’s what I’m most interested in. The trails. The Palmetto trail boasts the State Park Systems longest expansion bridge at sixty-five feet. It also passes several old homesteads as well as plenty of nature. The Foster Mill Trail goes along the shores of Lake Craig as well as Kelsey Creek and along ridges. The three point four mile Rocky Ridge/Whitestone Springs sounds interesting. It winds through hardwood forests and passes the historic Whitestone Springs where a bottling business once bustled. I can’t wait to go back.

How to Get There:

One can get here from either I85 or I26. The Park is located off Dairy Ridge Road. Follow the signs.

Links:

https://southcarolinaparks.com/croft

What’s Close By:

Sparenburg

Pacolet Heritage Preserve

Pacolet

Greenville

Baker Creek State Park

I didn’t realize Baker Creek State Park is open seasonally from March 1 to September 30 until I started this post. Keep it in mind when you go out in spring in summer and check the website in case the times have changed.

I visited this park two summers ago as I drove along Lake Thurmond, chugging along on my road trip. This was one of several sites I visited. It was a hot day, perfect for a swim and a wade through shallow water. Besides swimming, one can go fishing, boating, hiking and biking, and camping. There are three trails here. The Wild Mint Nature Trail is one mile long and the hike/bike trail is ten miles, but I suppose one can make it shorter as there are three interconnecting loops. This trail takes one along Little River Branch of Lake Thurmond, and into the park interior. The third trail is hiking only and .7 miles long. In the official description it’s described as being both easy and moderately difficult. Sometimes it’s just subjective. I’ve been on trails rated difficult that I found moderate and I’ve been trails rated easy that I found rather difficult.

Whatever trail you take, or don’t take, the views of the lake are quite nice. If the shelter, the Lake Pavilion, hasn’t been reserved, that’s a nice place to partake in lunch, or use the picnic tables right by the lake.

The park is located in the Long Cane District of the Sumter National Forest and consists of 1,305 acres.

How to Get There:

The park is located a mile off US378 and west of McCormick.

Links:

http://southcarolinaparks.com/bakercreek/introduction.aspx

 

What’s Close By:

Hickory Knob State Resort Park

McCormick

Sumter National Forest

Redcliffe Plantation State Historic Site

It was a rather warm day when I visited this park. I’d just dropped off someone at the Augusta airport and detoured through Beech Island on my way back to Columbia. The town of Beech Island isn’t an island at all, but it may have gotten its name from a former island on the Savannah River. The town is one of the oldest settlements in SC.

While not large, 396 acres, Redcliffe Plantation packs quite a bit of history. I spent some time walking the grounds after talking a good while with the friendly ranger. The ranger I spoke with in the park store was enthusiastic and knew the stories of the place. I learned quite a bit from her. After our conversation I wandered out, up the red clay hill from which the place gets its name. Redcliffe. It’s covered in a green lawn and dotted with trees. There’s this humongous clump of cactus that catches my eye. It’s not what I expected. The flowers on are pretty.

The antebellum house was owned by the James Henry Hammond. Besides being governor of the SC (1842-1844) , he was also a senator, congressman, and cotton planter. He acquired the property in 1855. The house was completed in 1859 and is an example of Greek-Revival Style. It was remodeled in 1886, restored in the mid 1900s. In 1973 it was donated to the state. Besides the house, there are two slave cabins and a stables.

When it was a working plantation, they grew indigo and sugar cane here. Plus there were orchards and a vineyard.

Tours of the mansion are offered Thursday through Monday at 11 a.m., 1 p.m., and 3 p.m. Visit the website in case there are any changes. There is a fee for the tour. Again, consult the website for prices.

 

How to Get There:

Off SC125, northeast of Beech Island, on Redcliffe Road.

 

Links:

http://southcarolinaparks.com/redcliffe/introduction.aspx

 

What’s Close By:

North Augusta

Aiken

Dreher Island State Park

I think the first time I went to Dreher Island SP was to attend a picnic. Who’s picnic I can’t remember. I didn’t come here often because it’s a bit of a drive. The park is situated on Lake Murray, where it’s not so heavily developed. It is made up of three islands all connected by bridges and one causeway. On my last trip I stopped on the first island at the park store area. I wanted to get a picture of those huge beach chairs. There’s a huge anchor as nearby too. From the parking lot I strolled out toward one of the bridges and looked out toward the lake. It was a short, but pleasant walk.

A nicer walk is the Little Gap Trail. it’s 2.1 miles long. It’s further in at shelter # 7. A side trail from this took me to this pleasant overlook below. Besides this trail there is a short nature trail and a multiuse trail that runs through the loop. I found it interesting the park has wild geraniums. I have to go back when they are in bloom. I’ve only seen the ones in flower pots.

Dreher Island State Park was first leased from SCE&G in the 1970’s. I couldn’t find much else on the history of the park. It’s 348 acres and offers twelve miles of shoreline. You can go fishing, hiking, and birdwatching. You can spend the night in villas. I didn’t see them so I don’t know what they look like. I do know they are lakeside. One can rent shelters including tournament shelters for fishing tournaments. I’d never heard of this before, but then I don’t fish.

There’s camping in the park too. The park doesn’t have any designated swimming areas. Swimming is at your own risk. Please keep an eye on the little ones.

How To Get There:

From I26, take exit 91 and drive west toward Chapin. Turn right onto US76. You’ll be on this for a very short while before making a left on St. Peter’s Church Rd (Road 29). There should be signs from then on. You’ll make a left onto Dreher Island Rd (Rd 231) and another left on State Park Rd.

Links:

http://southcarolinaparks.com/dreherisland/introduction.aspx

What’s Close By:

All of Lake Murray is right here. There are several parks for swimming around the lake.

The towns of Columbia, Newberry, and Lexington are not far.

Main Street

Main Street. Where all the action is. Or used to be. Or where it’s at again. It all depends on where you are. Driving around, you’ll never know what kind of Main Street you’ll find and how you’ll find it. Maybe there’s not much left, physically, but the memories are still there and there’s always something interesting. If you’re lucky you’ll bump into someone who remembers what it used to be, bad or good.

According to the Municipal Association of South Carolina, there are 270 towns and cities with a population of 50 and higher. 270 main streets, they maybe called something other than ‘Main’ Street. 270 downtowns. Somehow I thought there’d be more.

Big or small, I like to take a walk around Main Street, time willing. Charleston, Columbia, Greenville, etc, all have bustling downtowns. In the smaller places, the sidewalks might roll in after six p.m. leaving you amazed the store’s closed so early. It happened to me. Here are a few downtowns, Main Streets, I’ve taken pictures of. Enjoy.

Sumter with Opera House

North

Newberry with their opera house

Mullins

Georgetown                                                    Cheraw

Great Falls

Chester                                                  Olar