Thursday, September 3, 2009

Sesqui State Park, Part II Hiking and Cabin Renovation

Click here for the first post in this series.

Last time I presented an overview of Sesquicentennial State Park here in Columbia, South Carolina. Just minutes from downtown Columbia.

[Click photos for larger images]

0Trail Head This week, let’s explore some of the hiking and walking opportunities this 1,500-acre suburban park has to offer.

Before that, though, a few comments and photos of the 1756 cabin restoration I mentioned last time. It seems I’m not the only one interested in old buildings. Well, old for our part of the country, anyway. Quite a few e-mails about this building.

Cabin Renovation Front Here’s a photo I took late yesterday afternoon of the restoration work. After the work crew had knocked off for the day. Lots of modern equipment, with an emphasis on safety.

Note just how comprehensive this restoration project is. Roof repairs; windows re-framed; new doors; and a brand new porch. The earlier porch was little more than a roof over the front door.

Chinking Progress This photo shows more clearly some of the challenges facing the restoration crew. In this case, chinking. The logs toward the bottom appear to be completed. Those about half-way up the window, and above, have lath backing tacked up from the inside to support the chinking material when it’s applied from the front. This is highly skilled work. Much more to it than just slapping a cement-based mixture in between the logs!

Log Gaps This photo shows just how far some of the logs in the walls have separated over the years. They’ve been serving a while! Requiring even addition of separators to keep the building somewhere near square and true. Now there’s a Class One chinking challenge awaiting attention! I’ll keep an eye on it and report progress in subsequent posts.

Porch Addition Oh, one final photo that shows the new porch addition from another angle. Who knows? Maybe the building originally had a full porch clear across the front! It certainly will make a nice place to sit on an autumn day. Hope they include some vintage rockers here for weary Park hikers!

0Trail Map Speaking of hiking, this post is supposed to be about hiking opportunities in the Park. The photo at the beginning shows the trailhead for one of the Park’s more charming [read easy!] trails. That going all the way around the 30-acre lake at the center of the Park. You can follow the trail around the lake in the photo of the map if you click for the larger image.

As you see on the map above, the lake trail is only one of several through the Park’s 1,500 acres. It probably isn’t the most popular with serious hikers or joggers. It’s convenient, though, well maintained, and only a couple of miles from beginning to end. Most important, it traverses some of the most interesting parts of the Park.

0Steps Down Trail Throughout, Park personnel have done everything they can to make this trail accessible. Here are wooden steps just down from the trailhead, for example. Though the grade isn’t steep at all.

0Tracks on Trail Somehow, bike riders too manage to navigate this trail. As you can see in this photo of tracks in the sand. Lots of boots. But also unmistakable bicycle tracks. While walking the trail it’s not unusual to see single bicyclers, and even whole families, peddling along. Some pulling young babies in little trailers behind their sturdy bicycles! Can’t imagine doing it myself. But to each his or her own. Our daughter and her husband regularly pull their twins along in that fashion.

0Trail Marking Oh, and no chance of getting lost on this trail. Or any of the others, for that matter. Here’s an example of the clear trail signage, and how it appears to the first-time hiker.

Walking Trail at Sesqui As in most parks like this, the Rangers change the course of the trail from time to time to avoid over-use in one spot. But the little white arrow signs are always there. For much of the way, the trail looks much like the photo above. Inviting even the Elder-Hiker to continue on to the end.

Welcome Bench on Walking Trail at Sesqui And, when it’s time to rest, benches pop up along the way. The bench in the photo above is at just about the half-way point of the trail.

I mentioned that this trail around the lake is especially interesting. That’s due, in large measure, to the large section of swamp just north of the lake. Well, I guess we no longer use the term “swamp.” Wetlands, or whatever the appropriate term is these days.

0Swampy Area Anyway, lots of standing water, aggressive plant life, dead trees still reaching for the sky. Spongy, mucky earth. That’s right. What we used to call “swamp”! This terrain attracts all sorts of wildlife, both on the ground and in the sky.

0Improved Walkway Over Wet Oh, and in case you’re concerned about stepping in the muck and getting your feet wet, don’t worry. Park personnel have installed – and maintain! – wooden walkways that keep the hiker high and dry while enjoying the flora and fauna of the swampy -- ‘er, wetland – area. It must be a lot of work. Work that has to be done under something less than ideal conditions.

0Big Nest Here’s a photo of a large bird’s nest up in the branches of the trees at the edge of the swampy area. I’m not enough of a bird watcher to identify the species. But it has to be a pretty big bird! Park personnel told me earlier this year that they’ve seen a pair of bald eagles back in this area. Though I have yet to see them myself.

0Moss on Log Before and after the swampy area north of the lake, this trail offers all sorts of interesting sights to the attentive walker. Here, for example, is one of many moss-covered decaying logs.

0Mushroom on Trail And here a fairly large – and brave – mushroom that just popped up in the middle of the trail. Won’t be there for long, I’m sure.

Nicely Pruned Live Oak at Sesqui The last section of the trail takes the hiker across a nice wooden bridge that spans the outlet creek at the south end of the lake, and on toward the Park’s picnic area. Here mature live oak trees have been beautifully pruned and maintained.

Sesqui Bench, Table, Tree And benches – some with backs! – placed to give the weary hiker a beautiful view of the lake. And a good enough excuse to sit and relax a while.

Speaking of the Park lake, I hope to provide some photos and commentary about paddling opportunities on this diverse body of water. So stay tuned.

Click here for the next post in this series.


  1. The parks folks need to pay your for the fantastic promotion job you are doing. I bet the attendance goes up in the next few days. Good Blog Bob

  2. Nah, Barney. It's a labor of love. And were I paid I couldn't write whatever I wanted! Quite a few folks at the Park now that the weather has cooled. This weekend will be busy. I'll leave it to them.