Sunday, June 6, 2010

Kings Mountain State Park, South Carolina. Part II First Impressions of the Park

Click here for the first post in this series.

ready to roll Packed and ready to roll at 11:00 this morning. Weather again ideal for driving. Sunny but not too hot.

321 sign Out through the neighborhood streets. The GPS performing beautifully. Straight to the turn onto Route 321 north. Through Winnsboro and York. Both interesting towns with lots to see and learn. Then to Route 161 and the Kings Mountain State Park entrance.

All went well on Route 321. It’s a beautiful secondary road. Though from time to time, for no reason I could discern, it changes from a nice two-lane secondary road to a four-lane highway. Complete with nicely landscaped and maintained grassy median.

Then, just as unexpectedly, it returns to its normal two-lane self. Odd. Though even the four-lane sections of 321 make for a nice drive.

Churches along this part of 321 must outnumber houses. At least houses visible from the road. A few are of the established, prosperous sort. With impressive brick buildings, soaring steeples, wide paved parking lots, and well-tended cemeteries.

But the majority of the churches along this part of Route 321 are more modest. Usually square cinderblock or prefabricated buildings with colored windows tending toward the purple, and wide front double doors.

Here and there small Lego-like steeples adorn roofs. Giving the impression they could be removed easily should the building revert one day to its original purpose. No paved parking lots. Gravel at best; usually just dirt and grass.

I’m tempted from time to time to stop by. Since the couples and families congregating in the parking area and near the front doors look so friendly and pleased with their church. But don’t. For fear my intentions would be misunderstood.

Just past York the GPS recommended an alternative to Route 161. A shorter back way into the Park. Reluctant to offend, I agreed, and before long was driving along Piedmont Road.

This turned out to be a good suggestion. Piedmont Road runs through adjacent National Military Park land. A part of the Park I might not otherwise have seen. It’s a well maintained gravel 1.5-lane road. Through beautiful forest close by on either side.

Be sure to drive Piedmont Road when you visit Kings Mountain State Park. It provides a great introduction to the forest in this part of South Carolina. Especially for folks who have difficulty walking the trails. Drive slowly, though. To better appreciate the forest. And to avoid collision with full-time residents who cross the road from time to time.

headquarters 1 At the end of Piedmont Road, turn right for a short drive to State Park Headquarters.

plaque This beautiful log structure is on the National Register of Historic Places, as you see in the photo above. I hope to learn more about it before leaving on Friday.

headquarters 2Look at the detail here. Certainly an impressive Park Headquarters Building. But I’ll bet there are all sorts of restrictions on how it can be used. And this isn’t the only Historic Building within the Park’s boundaries. More on them later.

Jim, who hails originally from Greenbay, Wisconsin, cheerfully checked me in, and provided useful information about what to see at the Park.

campsite Then on to campsite # 26. It is a pull-through ideally sized for the Aliner. I pulled through with no difficulty, unhooked, and deployed the BAL Leveler to compensate for the site’s mild slope.

campground map Kings Mountain State Park does indeed have 114 campsites. Arranged in two loops, as you can see on the map above.

site 30 All of the sites, and the connecting road, are of hard-packed earth and gravel, like the one above. The map and photo, however, don’t show how the campsites have been laid out to take best advantage of the sloping terrain and forest of this area. I drove around both loops and saw that nearly every site looks out on beautiful forest.

campsite 2 Look, for example, at the view I have on site # 26 from the passenger side of the Aliner. Somehow it reminds me of Norris Dam State Park in the mountains of Eastern Tennessee. High praise indeed!

bath house Fortunately, with so many campsites, there are four bath houses in the camping area. The one pictured above is right across the road from this campsite. They must get busy when every campsite is reserved. As it was this past Memorial Day weekend.

I found the bath house clean and in good repair. Plenty of hot water in the shower. Some of the plumbing fixtures are ready to be replaced once the statewide budget crunch abates. But everything worked.

That’s all for now. Stay tuned, though, for several more posts on this beautiful Park and campground.

Click here for the next post in this series.

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