Sunday, January 15, 2012

Hiking the Beaver Run Trail at Hickory Knob State Park

Click here for the table of contents for this series

“Hiking”? Well, in the broadest sense of the term, I guess. Maybe ElderHiking. Just Ambling would be a more accurate description. But what’s the sense of rushing along at top sustainable speed when there’s so much to see along the way? I mean! Wish I’d learned that earlier in life ….

map of beaver run trailHere’s a convenient map from that gives an idea of what to expect on this interesting 2.5-mile trail., by the way, is an excellent source of information about hiking and biking trails in South Carolina. Click one of those links above and have a look around. Here’s what they have to say about the Beaver Run Trail. But take time to click through their whole site. It should be a bookmark-able Web destination for anyone who follows the CarolinaConsidered Blog.

My opportunity to hike, or amble, Beaver Run Trail came last November 30th. A day that was sunny, with only a light breeze, and cool enough for a light jacket. How could you ask for better conditions!

The map above suggests a fairly straight path for this trail. But that’s not what I found. It’s been laid out through the woods with attention to trees, rocks, damp spots, and changes in elevation. It even includes the occasional switch-back to ease changes in altitude, as the description mentions. This irregularity makes it far more interesting and enjoyable to hike.

Here and there you’ll catch glimpses of the Lake Thurmond shoreline. With traces of less formal paths down to the bank in places. See how low the Lake was! About 10 feet down at the time, if memory serves.

At one spot, about half-way along, I found clear evidence of an old roadbed that once led down to the shore of the lake.

Abandoned now, it was strewn with its share of the fallen timber found throughout the surrounding woods. This is the view on the other side of the trail. Heading straight for the main road. Built up in places. It must have been used fairly recently.

Here and there along the trail I found red tapes adorning trees, like the one you see in the photo above. Each red tape had the name of the tree hand-printed in black ink. Nice to have for tree identification! But these have to be temporary. I wonder what the Park Service plans to do with them. More permanent signs? 

About two-thirds of the way to the skeet and archery ranges the trail passes the 1760 Guillebeau House. Now, this is worth seeing.

This house has been modernized inside and is for rent! But if it’s empty when you pass, go up and have a close look at its construction. Like most houses of that vintage, it was built in sections, over time. Likely in responses to changes in family size and/or economic fortunes of its owners. Interesting workmanship.

Long-time readers may recall the February 2011 CarolinaConsidered visit to the mid-18th century log house at Sesquicentennial State Park. Click here if you missed it.

Back on the trail, I noticed the pile of stones you see in the photo above. Certainly not natural. I suspect they’re the remains of a house foundation, doorstep, or possibly a chimney. Wish I knew more about the earlier inhabitants of this land. And what the area looked like before creation of the lake and the successive waves of timbering.

Well, there’s plenty more to tell about along this trail. But time is running out again. I turned around not long before the end of the trail when it got a little wet and headed back to the Visitors Center.

What a wonderful trail to walk. Easy enough for all but those of us limited to wheeled locomotion. Yet “natural” enough to give visitors a definite sense of being in the woods. That combination requires careful planning in layout, and then constant care. Go have a look for yourself!

But stay tuned here for the third and final post in this series on Hickory Knob State Park. We’ll visit the RV campground.

Click here for the next post in this series.

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