Sunday, July 25, 2010

Croft State Natural Area, South Carolina. Part II. Arrival and a Look Around.

Click here for the first post in this series.

croft enter 01 The drive to Croft State Natural Area near Spartanburg from Columbia was all I’d hoped for. Especially Route 56. Which intersects Interstate I-26 just south of the now-closed entrance to 385 toward Greenville.

Like most of South Carolina’s secondary roads, Route 56 offers the alert traveler diverse natural and social scenery. Here and there forests of carefully planted pines extend right to the edge of the road. Their regularity betraying the owners’ commercial aspirations. Then rolling pastures replace pine forests. Often with herds of grazing cattle. Though I didn’t see any cattle today.

Route 56 passes by the entrance to Musgrove State Historic Site, and then past a historical marker for the Battle of Musgrove. I’ll have to come back for a visit. It looks interesting. There’s no RV camping at Musgrove. But it’s close enough to Columbia for a day trip.

This part of South Carolina is more hilly than the Sandhills Area. Which offers the traveler more diverse, and to me more interesting, scenery at nearly every turn. At one point looking west I could see for miles and miles, over the tops of those rolling hills. But that grand view was choked suddenly by an overgrown kudzu thicket near the edge of the road, followed by a small manufactured home park.

croft enter 02 The weather again today was hot! Nearly 100 degrees by the time I arrived at Croft State Natural Area. Thank heaven for the car’s air conditioning. And for that in the Aliner! It’s hard to imagine coping with this heat without it.

croft enter 03 The Park entrance, off Dairy Ridge Road, is well planned, and kept neat as a pin. That’s a good sign, in my experience. Be sure to look closely at the row of crepe myrtles that extends from the road to the gate. Somebody here has a love of shrubs and trees. This sort of scenery doesn’t just happen!

great tree 01 Speaking of trees, be sure to stop to pay your respects to this grand old party on the way in. It’s about three miles from the gate to the Park Office. This tree stands within a large picnic shelter complex on the left about two-thirds of the way there. You can’t miss it.

great tree 02 Here’s the same tree taken from the back. Notice how much care has been taken to preserve its root structure. And imagine the generations of pruning and attention involved! Something we can enjoy today.

This tree probably isn’t the largest or oldest in the Park. But that’s not the point! As with human beings, size and age aren’t the only determinants of beauty. [That inspired by the recent comment of a regular reader who compared our South Carolina trees unfavorably with the redwoods of his native California. Oh my.]

no digging sign There’s lots to see right along this three-mile road. Including the sign above warning visitors about the possibility of coming across unexploded munitions from the Park’s military facilities days. But let’s drive straight to the Park Office to check in.

office 01 Here it is. A relatively small building, with carefully maintained grounds.

office 02 A building that fits nicely into the overall atmosphere of the Park. Check-in was a delight. No “medium-security correctional institution” atmosphere here! Quite the opposite.

Check-in administrative details were handled by a very efficient Volunteer Host at the Park. I even got to meet Park Manager, John Moon, in the process. Mr. Moon agreed to do an interview about this Park on Thursday. Based on our conversation at check-in, the interview should be another crackerjack!

campsite 01 Here’s Campsite # 31, on the Lake side of the two-loop campground. The Aliner required some leveling, but the surface was solid and clean. Easy to maneuver the camper. Even for me.

Speaking of campsites, a number of them here have a grade that may discourage folks with travel trailers. However, several here are flat and ideal. I’ll try to remember to go around and make a list before leaving.

lake 01 That’s all the time we have tonight. But I had to make a quick run down to the boat ramp area of Lake Craig here. This is no pond! It’s a real lake, much larger than I expected. I look forward to some ElderKayaking tomorrow morning before it gets too hot.

More to come on this beautiful Park. So stay tuned!

Click here for the next post in this series.

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