Monday, June 21, 2010

Colleton State Park, South Carolina. Part I. An unplanned visit.

Table of Contents for This Series

  1. Unplanned visit to Colleton State Park
  2. More on this delightful Park
  3. Interview with Park Manager Eugene Moore

Around mid-morning I drove from Givhans Ferry State Park, where the Aliner was parked, to visit Colleton State Park.

This Park is about 21 miles from Givhans Ferry by river. Something less than that by car.

edisto river upstreamThe river was a temptation. But I decided to travel by car this morning rather than try to paddle the ElderKayak against the current for 21 miles. Even the forgiving current of the Edisto River that you see above.

Route 61 North here is well populated on both sides of the road. Houses, newer and older, usually set well back, with well-tended lawns. Some of the side-roads have interesting names. Like “Heavy Feather” and “Pumpkin Girl.” I’m not making this up, now. Regular South Carolina road signs.

Turn right at the Canadys intersection. You’ll see the Penny Pincher Mart on the corner. More about that enterprise later. Drive another half-mile and the sign for Colleton State Park will appear on the left.

csp office 1 I drove in and stopped at the Park Office. The road in was under maintenance. Though not anything that obstructed auto or RV travel. I’m no road maintenance expert. But it looked as if this effort was intended either to repair or to limit the effects of water erosion.

I later learned that it was much more than a surface scraping. Over the years, repeated palliative scrapings had worn the roadbed down several inches. So this time Park Management applied several inches of stone, gravel, and soil to bring the road surface back where it was originally. Quite a project! A lot of work. But it will reduce the effects of water erosion here for years to come.

csp office 2 It was just after 11:00 a.m. when I arrived at the Office. Ranger Larry was at the desk [didn’t get his last name, unfortunately]. He gave me a comprehensive run-down of the Park facilities and encouraged me to look around.

I asked Ranger Larry how Colleton State Park differs from Givhans Ferry State Park. He said they both are CCC-built Parks on the banks of the Edisto River. Similar environments; similar facilities. Very fair in his assessment.

But Ranger Larry was such an enthusiastic and effective representative of his Park that I asked if he would be willing to do an audio interview. He quickly backed away from that offer, and went to the inner office to get Park Manager, Eugene Moore.

PM moore 01 It was a busy time at Colleton State Park. Even the District Manager was there. But Park Manager Moore kindly agreed on the spot to make time the following morning for an interview. So, off I went to look around outside before he could change his mind!

trail enter It’s impossible to describe any South Carolina State Park in a single word. If pressed, I would use “Understated” to describe Colleton. Unpretentious and Understated. Both traditional South Carolina values! The photo above illustrates the point. Give it a click for a larger view.

The sign says “Cypress Swamp Nature Trail: .3 Miles.” Now, how interesting could that be? Why bother? A .3-mile walk through a swamp?

Well, here’s why.

trail info boxThe red arrow points to the little green box you see above. In it are single-page photocopies of the Park Brochure. The front of the brochure offers a good general description of the Park. But the back is even more interesting.

trail sign post This brochure provides the key to the Cypress Swamp Nature Trail aforementioned. Numbered stations, like the one you see above, have been placed along the length of the trail. Eighteen of them in all. The back of the brochure provides a brief, beautifully written, explanation of each feature.

This trail is an outstanding resource. It alone is worth the drive to the Park. I’ve included a short video above to encourage you to visit. I’m still learning how to create videos, so be patient, please.

board walk 1 Throughout, the path is smooth and carefully maintained. Easy for less mobile folks, like me. Or even for folks who rely on scooters or wheeled vehicles. Where necessary they’ve limited the effects of water erosion with board walks.

trail marker 4 Be sure to take a brochure from the little box and watch carefully on both sides of the path for the numbered stations. It’s an education. Many of my questions about the area plant life were answered – with real-life examples – right on the back of that brochure! I wish every Park had such a program.

trail 2 As Park facilities go, this nature trail wouldn’t have been especially expensive to create. It must require time-consuming maintenance. But still, it easily qualifies as the sort of “High bang; Low Buck” project that warms the hearts of budget-pressed South Carolina Park Service Management. Come have a look. You won’t be disappointed.

Stay tuned for more on Colleton State Park in the next post. It’s a winner.

Click here for the next post in this series.

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