I realize I’m a little behind here talking about fall colors, but maybe there’ll still be some color when this piece is published. Fall is a great time to take daytrips. You don’t even have to go that far, just drive around town and admire the trees in people’s yards. In Chester I saw the most spectacular sights of bright yellow leaves under a bare tree. It was like shards of the sun had fallen. Didn’t get a picture of that, but did get another nice fall view there.


Chester State Park


Sesquicentennial State Park (Columbia)


On a stone wall around Old Brick Church in Fairfield County


Also in Chester County, in the town of Chester, Brainard Institute


SC Hiking Books

When I plan a trip, two of the books I like to consult are these:  Hiking South Carolina by John Clark and John Dantzler and 50 Hikes in South Carolina by Johnny Molloy. I had another, but I prefer these.

While yes, they cover some of the same hikes, they also contain different ones, and one or the other goes into more detail. For example for the Big Bend Falls hike, one books describes just how to get to the falls and the other details the entire Big Bend Trail.

One is not better than the other. If hiking is your thing and, if you can, get both. I snagged both of mine at a book sale. You can find the most recent editions in a hiking store, book store, or on-line. If you can only get one, I’ll describe each and you can make up your own mind.


50 Hikes in South Carolina

In the beginning of the book is a map of the state with the locations of all the trails mentioned in the book. With each hike description there is a topographical map useful in gauging how hilly the terrain is, but get a USGS map if the trail is rough and not well marked. The book, both of them, will tell you which one to get.

Also in the beginning is a table listing the hikes, their nearest city, the distance of trail, and other comments like if there is a waterfall or campground along the trail. The trails are divided into upstate, midlands, and lowcountry so you don’t have to go through the entire book looking for trails that are near to one another.

Each trail description is prefaced with the total distance, the hiking time, vertical rise, and difficulty rating. In the body of the description it tells you how to get to the trail head and describes the hike. There is a photo for each entry.


Hiking South Carolina

In the beginning of the book there is a state map of all trails listed and a legend (nice) for the maps that accompany the entries. The introduction includes how to be prepared, trail regulations, a section on the natural history of the state. This book includes the longer trails such as the Foothills and Chattooga. It does not include the Palmetto trail. That’s a volume of books by itself.

Each of the 62 entries contains a map, general description, location, distance, difficulty, trail conditions, and fees, if any. The body of the entry tells one how to find the trailhead, a description of the hike, and if there are facilities or lodging nearby. With the hilly trails there’s a graph showing the change in elevation. There are maps, but not topographical ones. Not every entry has a photo.

One thing I liked about the book were the appendixes: For more information (web addresses), Further reading, Hiker’s checklist, and Hike list. This organizes the hikes by distance – short and easy to long and strenuous.

Check these books out. Your local library may have a copy you can check out to see which one you prefer.



Sumter Carnegie Library

Libraries might not be what one might think of when sightseeing. I can even image groans coming from this suggestion. Being a librarian though I like to swing by, see the architecture of the place, and even go in and visit. They may surprise you.


Union Carnegie Library

The Carnegie Libraries are interesting for their architecture and history. Built in the early 1900’s with grants from the philanthropist Andrew Carnegie. I believe there are about seventeen public and academic libraries built with those funds. There’s one in Union that’s still a library and one in Sumter, which sits sad and empty.


Ninety-Six Library

The main branch of the Richland County Public Library has a nice mural of the Wild Things in its children section. The library in Ninety Six has a nice mural in it too, painted by a local artist. I’ve shown a picture of it already I believe. In Chester they had a section where you could purchase used books. I did not walk away from there empty handed.

Libraries are great places to get information. In Union, you can get a map of the city to take the tour. In Greenwood I visited their new library in order to find a place I wanted to visit. The librarians are always eager to help.

newberry-newberry-49-old-post-office chesterfield-mcbee-02-old-train-depot-library

Newberry – former post office now library

McBee – former train depot now library

Happy Birthday National Parks – 25 Aug 2016


I celebrated the park service’s 100th birthday at Congaree National Park with a long hike and birthday cake. The events held that day was an excuse to head on over to hike and take more photos. The treat was just icing on the cake.

There was a ranger led hike in the morning. I missed that, but by utilizing the trail map and tour map of the boardwalk, I went alone. I did the Weston Lake Loop. It’s not that long, about 4.4 miles. It goes along a creek and also the boardwalk. The overlook was closed, so I missed out on the lake. Had I made a detour I may have still seen it, but I plowed on. The first time I visited Weston Lake I saw a gar fish. Those are like dinosaurs. I’d hoped to get a picture. Maybe next time. Congaree National Park is celebrating its 40th birthday in October. Another nice excuse to go. I have to decide what trail I’ll do next.


Rails to Trails

Barnwell- Williston - walking path

Rails-to-Trails are hike and bike paths built on former rail routes. They are relatively flat making a good surface for walking. Some are paved, some not. Some are quite long, good for riding bikes. One can rent bicycles along certain rails-to-trails paths, which is good if you don’t have a bicycle. Like me. I might have to invest in one.

Newberry - Peak - Palmetto Trail 07 trestle bridge over Broad River

Rails-to-trails came about after the consolidation of rail lines. In the 1960’s uneconomical branch lines got closed. It didn’t take long for the first hike/bike path to be created, the Elroy-Sparta State Trail in Wisconsin. The longest, when finished, is going to be 321 miles. That’s the Cowboy Trail in Nebraska.

The longest in South Carolina is the Swamp Fox passage of the Palmetto trail at 42 miles.

All in all there’s over 750 miles of abandoned railway in our state. To find some of them, click on the link below. It’s not inclusive as it misses some shorter trails like the section of the Palmetto Trail at Peak. Here one crosses the Broad River via a train trestle. Just for that alone makes it a go-to place. Then there are rail-to-trail paths through towns like Ninety Six and Williston and many more. The one in Williston was once part of the historic Charleston to Hamburg line.



Richland - Columbia - SC history mural 01

Sometimes you come across murals when you least expect it. My favorite is the one by Blue Sky in Union. I was trying to get from A to B when I saw it. This huge train. I made a quick turn to the right, parked, and got out of the car to admire it. Cool. It’s more impressive, bigger, in person.

Union - Union - 29 Blue Sky mural

Murals aren’t just in cities, but small towns as well. Some are bright and, bang, right in your face, others may be a little dull by the sun. I’ve always liked the one off US321 in Denmark. It’s easy to miss a mural because some are on side streets and can be spotted from one direction, just keep your eyes open. Enjoy the low speed limit in the town and peruse your surroundings.

Bamberg - Denmark - Coker St 01 mural

Whether it’s a street scene, historical, commercial, or other (such as Tunnelvision by Blue Sky in Columbia on Taylor Street) murals can be found inside as well as outdoors. If you’re interesting in them, you’ll have to do your homework. The WPA mural website below is helpful, but for others not done during that era it’s serendipitious like the one in the library in Ninety-Six.

Greenwood - Ninety Six - Library mural 02

The one in Sumter of a beach scene puzzled me, but it still looks nice. It’s sort of arresting really because you don’t expect it.

There’s no web site I found with a listing of all the murals in the state, but these are helpful. Sciway.net lists a few too.




Town Clocks

Aiken - Aiken - Laurens St 03 town clock - Copy

Drive through a town in South Carolina and chances are you’ll see a town clock. It may be on a building or, most likely, a clock mounted on a post and pedestal (called a street or post clock). I don’t know what about them caught my attention, but on my drives and walks around towns I started noticing them more and more to the point that if I see one, I take a picture. While many of the post town clocks look the same there are little differences and it’s fun to see how many different types exist. In Barnwell there’s even a sun dial town clock. I don’t have a picture of that yet, but one day.

Lancaster - Kershaw - Town Clock 03 detail - Copy

With watches and being able to check one’s cell phone for the time, the need for a town clock has lessened, but until about the middle of the 1900’s people relied on these town clocks for the time. They were set in the center of town and usually put on the highest structure so they could be seen, or heard for blocks around.

The clocks I’ve seen are in the center of the downtown areas although many aren’t on the highest structure anymore. One that is, is the Winnsboro’s town clock. This is the longest continuously running clock in the U.S. and has been running for over 100 years.

Fairfield - Winnsboro - 01 Town Clock Christmas - Copy



Edisto Island – Scenic Highway 174

Charleston - US174 - Dawho River Bridge 02

Eons ago, when I first went to Edisto Island with my parents, it felt as if SC174 was the longest road in the world. I used to imagine we’d entered another dimension and were doomed to nothingness. What can I say, I was a bored teen back then and the ride from Columbia was already too long. This was before cell phones, DVD players, and all the other diversions kids have today.

The last time I went, I enjoyed the trip and the scenery, excited to visit the sightseeables, and being able to knock off items from my SC must visit wish list. Several of these didn’t exist when I visited in the seventies such as Botany Bay Plantation and the Serpenterium.

The official start of the scenic portion of SC174 is the McKinley Washington Bridge over Dawhoo Creek It continues on to Edisto Beach State Park, a distance of about fourteen miles. This stretch of road became a national scenic byway in 2009. There’s an app for the The Edisto Scenic Highway 174. It can be used at any point on the road. I didn’t use the app on my trip. If you want to download it, go to iTunes and visit the app store.

Charleston - US174 - Trinity Episcopal Church 01

As you drive along you’ll pass scenery typical of a South Carolina barrier islands. There are marshes, woods, agricultural, and rural buildings that include several historic churches like the 1830 Presbyterian Church, the Zion Reformed Episcopal Church, and the Trinity Episcopal Church (ca 1876). The three sit a short distance aways from each other for easy viewing.

Charleston - SC174 - Mystery Tree 03

The Mystery Tree sits in the marshes opposite the road leading to Botany Bay Plantation. (Be sure to visit). The decorations change I’m told. When I visited in February there were valentine hearts on it.

How to Get There:

SC174 if off US17. From Charleston, take US17 south toward Beaufort. When you get to SC174 turn south. There should be signs for Edisto Beach State Park



What’s Close By:

There’s enough to see along SC174 to last awhile, but if you’re in the area a few days, there’s the ACE Basin which spreads across several counties (Beaufort, Charleston, and Colleton mostly),



Day Trips in South Carolina Workshop

If by any chance you are in Columbia, SC on Wednesday, 11 May 2016 and are interested, come by Sandhills Library for my Day Trips in South Carolina workshop. It’ll be held from seven to eight pm. I’ll have photographs from my trips, but the main goal is to help people find places to visit. I’ll offer resources and where to go and get more resources. I hope others will share their favorite places too.


Pinckney National Wildlife Refuge

Beaufort - Pinckney Island - bird in water

Driving on US278, heading onto Hilton Head Island, the turnoff to Pinckney NWR doesn’t look like much. I used to give it a, well, one day I’ll go, glance then drive on, usually heading to the Wal-Mart.
When I finally went stopped, it was like, what took me so long?
While the NWR consists of several islands, only the largest island, Pinckney is open for public use. It was established in 1975 after being donated to the Fish and Wildlife Service. Before that it was a game preserve and before that the islands were part of a sea island plantation owned by Major General Charles Cotesworth Pinckney. Nothing of the plantation exists today.
Over fifty percent of the refuge is made of tidal creeks and salt marshes and a fantastic place to bird watch and take some photos of the local birds including the white ibis and herons. There are plenty of other wildlife too.
There are nine recommended hikes around the island from the 1.2 mile round trip Ibis Pond to the 7.8 round trip White Point route. Or you can combine several shorter ones like I did.

I spent quite a bit of time at one of the ponds watching the birds. I’m not a birder per se, but I love watching them and taking pictures especially if I can get a good shot. The first lake as one comes from the parking lot is an especially nice one to bird watch. Close by is a butterfly garden, but at the time I went nothing was in bloom. That didn’t stop me from wandering through before wandering hither and yon and taking in the sights.

The above picture was taken at one of the tidal pools.

How to get there:
The refuge is located off US278 as it crosses the Intracoastal Waterway, a half mile from Hilton Head Island. From I-95 take exit 8 and drive towards Hilton Head.

Pinckney NWR

What’s Close By
Hilton Head Island
Savannah NWR