Three Rivers Greenway

Three Rivers Greenway is more than what lies in Richland County, which is already quite a bit. There’s also a good chunk in Lexington County in West Columbia and Cayce. But this post will be on the Richland County side.

The three rivers in the title refer to the Broad, Saluda, and Congaree Rivers. The latter is created by the Broad and Saluda. The northernmost point of the greenway can be accessed north of Broad River Road. At the parking lot you can see the lock that starts the Columbia canal. Walk across that and you can see the diversion dam. It’s a nice walk through the woods on the island especially on a hot day. From here you can walk all the way to Riverfront Park in downtown Columbia. Unfortunately due to the 2015 flood, part of the canal on which the walkway ran is gone so it’s not possible to get to the Gervais Street Bridge and the State Museum.

Further South, though, is Granby Park. It’s located at the end of Catawba. Here the trail continues, swooping into the Olympia and Granby Mill area and through Olympia Park before puttering out. While part isn’t along the river, it is still a nice walk through a historic mill village and mills. In Olympia Park I was lucky enough to catch sight of a blue heron.

The walkways on the river are lighted and paved with boardwalks and overlooks. You can walk, run, or ride your bicycle. It is also wheelchair accessible. It is currently twelve and a half miles long and growing. At this time they are working on a segment on the Richland County side of the Saluda River, along the zoo.

 

Link:

http://riveralliance.org/project/three-rivers-greenway/

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Myrtle Beach State Park

Over time the city of Myrtle Beach has crept up on this park, but it still remains an oasis from the hustle bustle. If you camp here a week, which we’ve done, checking out Myrtle Beach and its tourist amenities are part of the trip.

On my last trip to Myrtle Beach State Park, I got in early morning while the sun still stretched long shadows across the ground. If you don’t like battling traffic, early morning is the best time to get around. They were just setting up for the beach crowd as I moseyed to the long pier. Fishermen and women already staked their spots on it, poles out, waiting for that nibble. Here’s a great spot to see the sun come up.

There’s a lot the park has to offer besides swimming and fishing. There’s biking, hiking, birding, and camping. They have 350 campsites and a few cabins for rent. If you little ones, partake in the scavenger hunt. You don’t have to be a child to do it, it’s for all ages. Each takes about an hour and each qualify for the Habitat Patch which is only available here.

Besides the one mile beach, there are two trails, the Sculptured Oak Nature Trail and Yaupon Trail. Both are easy. The former is half a mile long and the latter .4 miles. You can combine the two for a longer hike if you want. The Sculptured Oak Nature trail takes you through one of the last stands of maritime forests in this part of South Carolina and it’s a Heritage Trust site. When you walk along the beach, take note of the sand dunes system and the sea oats.

This park was one of the first parks in SC, opening in 1936. It was built by the CCC, the Civilian Conservation Corp, which built so many parks during that period.

There is a fee to enter the park. Check the website as prices vary throughout the year.

How to Get There

Located off US17 BUS/S. Kings Hwy

Links:

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

http://www.myrtlebeachstatepark.net/

What’s Close By:

Huntington Beach

Myrtle Beach

Georgetown

Brookgreen Gardens

Columbia Resources

I was surprised to find there are so little resources on tourist places in Columbia. Even the web sites didn’t do much for me although they offered some tidbits. Maybe because I already knew the sites they highlight. Maybe because they didn’t offer information on what I am interested in – low cost/no cost activities, walking tours, green spaces, and historical areas. The brochures I picked up at the visitor center are more chock full of ‘stuff’ than the websites. Book wise was the pretty much the same as the websites, general information only and emphasis on restaurants, shopping, and the higher priced activities.

Book wise the South Carolina travel books will have to do, but the websites are a better alternative.

 

Brochure Names (with associated web address)

Columbia South Carolina 5km/10km Historic Capital City Walk (www.columbiacvb.com)

General Sherman’s March on Columbia, South Carolina – Self Guided Tour (www.shermansmarch.com)

Home Places, Work Places, Resting Places: African-American Heritage Sites Tour (historiccolumbia.org)

Three Rivers Greenway (www.RiverAlliance.org)

 

Web Sites

http://www.columbiacvb.com/

http://www.historiccolumbia.org/

http://www.sciway.net/sc-photos/richland-county/

Aiken State Park

I visited the park in winter and was kind of hoping the mosquitoes weren’t so prevalent. But this was a few months past the historic 2015 flood and that might explain the number of those insects out for my blood. Bring bug spray. But don’t avoid the park. It has some very nice trails running through including a canoe trail along the South Edisto River. I don’t have a canoe, but you can rent one there. At the moment canoe rentals are only for the lake so check the website to see when they are offering rentals again.

aiken-aiken-sp-19-edisto-river

I like to start my forays in the park at the visitor center, to get a map and a stamp for the Ultimate Outsider book. From there I viewed the lakes and started out on a trail, going deep (okay so not so deep in the woods, but it sure looks like from within). My interest was piqued by name of one of the trails, the Jungle trail and I had to investigate. I mean, who doesn’t want to walk the Jungle trail. Despite the mosquitoes it was a fun hike. It really did look like a jungle. I ended up walking partway on the road that winds through the park in order to see the boat launch. I had to see the South Edisto River, the longest free-flowing blackwater river in North America.

aiken-aiken-sp-11-on-boardwalk-trail

The park is interesting too because it was built by African Americans employed by the Civilian Conservation Corp of the Great Depression. Check out the exhibit.

aiken-aiken-sp-04-main-pond

How to Get there

Located on SC53. From I20, take exit 33 toward Wagener on SC39. Turn right on SC302 (in Wagener),then straight onto SC53 (SC302 will make a sharp right, you go straight.)

Links:

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

What’s Close by:

Aiken

Hitchcock Woods

Hopeland Gardens

Harbison State Forest

I’d heard plenty about Harbison State Forest, but never visited until a national hike day, or maybe it was visit a park day. Whatever day it was, I went. Harbison Forest is located in Columbia along the Broad River. It’s not difficult to find being just east of Broad River Road. I pulled in the parking lot, nice and shady, paid my five dollars and studied the trail options.

richland-harbison-sf-05-firebreak-trail-creek

In this 2,177 acre park there are plenty of trails to choose, twenty miles worth! Choose from the easy Discovery trail, 0.5 miles, to the six mile, difficult Lost Creek trail. The 4.4 mile, moderate Firebreak trail which interconnects to other trails. Or you can customize your trip if you wish, like I did. I can’t even tell you which ones I used. 

richland-harbison-sf-07-firebreak-trail-flower

The trails are for use for hikers and off road bicycling except for two which are for hiking only. Listen out for the call from a rider to announce themselves. There’s a canoe ramp that provides access for kayaks and canoes.

Harbison State Forest is one of the largest urban green spaces located within a city limits in the eastern part of the U.S. It’s named after Samuel P. Harbison who is/was from Pennsylvania. He provided much of the funds needed for the land to be purchased. Thank you, Mr. Harbison.

How to get there:

Take I-20 to exit #65 and go northwest on US #176 (Broad River Road) 5.9 kilometers (3.7 miles). The forest will be on the right side of the road.

Links:

https://www.state.sc.us/forest/refharb.htm

What’s Close by:

River Front Park and Historic Columbia Canal

Riverbanks Zoo

Lake Murray

Poinsett State Park

Sumter - Poinsett SP - 20 lake

I didn’t expect the terrain to be so hilly here. Driving up to an overlook (yes, this park has an overlook), you can see for miles. From there I made my way to the visitor center. There’s a trail that connects the two, but I was wanting to take another trail and see the lake. I had a good chat with the ranger who was taking a break from fixing some steps. I have to say, rangers are jacks of all trades. I see them mowing, fixing things, and leading tours. They are a font of knowledge when it comes to the flora and fauna and everything else in the park and they always friendly.

He told me about the meeting hall which had been built by the CCC in the 1930’s. I picked up quite a few brochures on Sumter county here, which was nice as I got information on other sites to see in Sumter.

Sumter - Poinsett SP - 09 lakeside view of sluice

Not far from the meeting room is a pretty spillway also by the CC. It flows under a bridge and trickles down a small waterfall into a stream. It hardly looks man made at all.

Several trails wind through these high hills of Santee. One goes around the ten acre lake. There’s the Coquina Trail, Laurel Group Trail, Hill Top Trail, and the Scout Trail. I did the Coquina trail and thus walked a bit on the Palmetto trail which passes through.

If you don’t walk the trails, one can rent a canoe or a kayak.

How to get there:

From US76 / US378, take the 261 toward Wedgefield. There should be a sign to the park. The park will be on the right.

Links:

http://www.southcarolinaparks.com/poinsett/introduction.aspx

What’s close by:

Manchester State Forest

Palmetto Trail

City of Sumter with Swan Lake and Historic Downtown

Stateburg

Cheraw State Park

Chesterfield - Cheraw SP - 14 bridge over Lake Juniper Dam

Cheraw State Park is located just outside of the town of Cheraw off US52. However way you get there, it’s a pleasant drive. I took US1 through McBee. I wanted to see the peach tree blossoms. I was either too late or too early, but no matter I got to visit other sites and had just a good a time on my trip to the park as I did in the park.
The park is know more the large championship, 18-hole golf course. While not a golfer myself, I admired the greens and trees. You have to pass the course to get to the Lake Juniper, a 300 acre lake created by the CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps) back in the 1930’s. They built a number of structures in the park as well, but not the boardwalk that curves around a section of the lake. From it you can explore the cypress wetlands that line the lake. Or explore it by renting a kayak or canoe. Being along, I opted not to go out on the lake. I’m not much of a water person anyway, preferring to look at it instead of being on it. or via a boardwalk that runs along the lake.
I saw a nice camping area on my walk. There are cabins to rent as well. Visit the web site for more information on that. Other activities include fishing, swimming, and biking, hiking, and horse riding on their extensive trail system. One bike trail is nine miles long.
The walking trails include the Turkey Oak Trail, a 4.5-mile loops, with a shorter 1.9 mile loop, and the Boardwalk Trail. Besides running along the lake it crosses the dam spillway. Walk with care and you can spot turtles sunning themselves.

How to Get There:
As said there are several ways to get there. One can use US1 from Columbia. If you are traveling via I95, take exit 164 and take US52 toward Darlington and on toward Cheraw.

Links:
http://www.southcarolinaparks.com/cheraw/introduction.aspx

What’s Close by:
Sand Hills State Forest is right next to the park as is H. Cooper Black Jr. Recreation Area, a place more equestrians.
Carolina Sandhills NWR. This is a must see.

Chester State Park

Chester - Chester SP - lake

I visited the park in the fall, wanting to see the leaves in color. Skirting the lake, I ended up on the Disc Golf course. Fortunately no one was playing or I might have gotten beaned and it would have been my fault for not paying attention. I did manage to find the real trail, The Caney Fork Creek Nature trail, later on and made my away around the lake, stopping at the boat house and partaking in the floating docks to take pictures. On the way back to the car I shuffled through the leaves carpeting the ground.

Chester State Park is located close to the town of Chester, in Chester Country. Besides hiking and disc golf, one can picnic, rent a boat (or bring your own) and/or go fishing. There are camping facilities too. From what I saw it looked quite nice. If you visit in spring you might be lucky and see bald eagles.

For those who like to play disc course there’s an 18-hole course and a 9-hole course. It’s the first SC State Park sanctioned course and alternative tee’s for those who play at different levels.
On the 160 acre lake there’s a 450 foot long fishing pier/pedestrian bridge that connects one side to another. They were building that when I visited and I need to go back so I can walk on it.

The 523 acre park was developed by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930’s after the land was purchases in 1935. A number of buildings built by the CCC are still in use and one can see the spillway and waterfall along the trail.

How To Get There:
The park is located off SC72/SC121 southwest of the town of Chester. Exits 55 and 65 off I77 will get you there. Just head toward Chester. If you want a more scenic route, there’s US321.

Links:
Cester State Park

What’s Near By:
The town of Chester
Sumter National Forest
Landsford Canal S.P.

Givhans Ferry State Park.

Dorchester - Givhan SP - 03 Bluff Trail

I have to admit I ended up at this park due to a missed turn, but no problem. I was here, I had time so I visited it. The downside was I didn’t have a map and couldn’t find the start of the trail I knew existed and the ranger was elsewhere. I missed the cemetery too, but that gives me a reason to visit again.
The park straddles the Edisto River whose riverbanks are protected as a Heritage Trust Site. It is the longest free flowing blackwater river in North America. From here you can go kayaking and canoeing There’s a boat landing right by the visitor center. It offers a nice view of the river.
The park is named after Phillip Givhan who was the ferry master here in the latter part of the 18th century. His granddaughter, Mary Ford, is buried in the park. The ferry sat at the point, called the Charleston to Augusta/Savannah pass, where one could cross the Edisto river and continue on the road from Charleston to Augusta.

Givhans Ferry State Park is one of the parks in South Carolina developed by the CCC, the Civilian Conservation Corps, a New Deal program created by Presdient F. D. Roosevelt. It was donated in 1934 by the City of Charleston.

I managed to find the trail, the River Bluff Nature Trail. The website says it’s a multipurpose trail for hiking and biking, but when I walked it, I found it a bit rough so if you take your little ones, make sure to hold their hands so they don’t tumble into the river. It might be better now. The bluff is made of limestone and it is due to the limestone that there are a number of sinkholes in the park, sinkholes created by underground streams eating away at the soft rock.
As for the cemetery, the only remaining tombstone is that of Phillip Givhan’s granddaughter.

How to Get There:
The park is located on Givhans Ferry Road off SC 61 and is in both Dorchester and Colleton counties.

Links:
Givhans ferry State Park
Givhans Ferry ST Video

Nearby:
Colleton State Park
Francis Beidler Forest
Old Dorchester State Park

Lee State Park

I visited the park in Fall so the swimming pool wasn’t open, but that didn’t distract from my trip. I took a walk from the picnic parking lot that took me down the boardwalk. From there I toured the ponds, which turned out to be the Artesian Trail, named, I would guess from the two artesian springs located near the pools. These were made when the CCC, drilled down into one of the aquifers, a confined aquifer. Since the water is under pressure, it is pushed upward to the surface allowed the water to flow constantly.

Lee State Park, created in 1935, is one of the Civilian Conservation Corp parks in the state and one of the even fewer parks to boast the structures they built. They made the park to provide recreational opportunities for the people of Lee County. It’s located along the Lynches River. Besides hiking, swimming, and fishing, one can kayak or canoe through the park’s floodplain. There are also equestrian opportunities.

The Lynches River is a state-designated State Scenic River and has been since 1994. One can drive down to the banks of the river via the Loop Road, if it is open when you visit. Among the wildlife one might encounter are marsh rabbits, fox squirrels, gray foxes, beavers and river otters to name a few. Birders will appreciate the great-horned, barred, and screech owl as well as the yellow-billed cuckoo.
On my trip, I only saw a few frogs and a turtle, which means I either didn’t look hard enough or I make too much noise.

Links:
http://www.southcarolinaparks.com/lee/introduction.aspx

Directions:
From I20, take exit 123 and follow the signs.

Nearby:
Carolina Sandhills NWR
Woods Bay S.P.