Posted by: RasmaSandra | June 20, 2018

South Carolina Off the Beaten Path

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Pleasant Ridge State Park is located in Marietta. Here one can see the abandoned stills of the moonshine industry along the nature trail in the scenic foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Part of the way the footpath follows a cool mountain stream along which wildflowers grow in the spring. The park’s 300-acres include wildlife such as white-tailed deer, racoons, bobcats, hawks and redheaded woodpeckers.

A popular feature is a lake with a beach and supervised swimming. Pedal boats and rowboats are available for rent. The park also provides fully equipped cabins, campsites with hookups, picnic shelters, a playground, a softball field and game courts.

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Carolina Sandhills National Wildlife Refuge in Chesterfield County has a long history. 55 million years ago the Atlantic Ocean’s incessant pounding of the shores created the dunes that stand there today. Settlers cut the timber and overworked the land in the area. Eventually, the soil was depleted and the farms were abandoned. In 1939 the Federal Government purchased 46,000 acres and established a wildlife reserve.

It now has longleaf pines, pond pines, mockernut hickories, and persimmons. Wildlife includes beavers, deer, cougars, rare woodpeckers, owls and wild turkeys. They are among the 42 species of mammals and 190 species of birds which make their home here.

Visitors can find an 11-mile drive, hiking trails, observation towers and platforms, spring wildflower tours and a photo blind here to provide access to the wildlife. At the Lake Bee Recreation Area, one can find picnic tables with stone fireplaces. Seasonal fishing is allowed in designated lakes and creeks.

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Rose Hill State Park – North of Whitmire, South Carolina this magnificent stucco mansion was built between 1828 and 1832. It reminds visitors of the life enjoyed by antebellum plantation owners and immortalized in Margaret Mitchell’s classic Gone with the Wind. The owner of Rose Hill was Governor William Henry Gist who was known as the Succession Governor. The mansion is furnished in authentic period style and contains several fine pieces that had belonged to the governor. In the second floor ballroom is an 1832 pianoforte and an 81-key piano. There are also two fireplaces and a sliding partition used to divide the ballroom into two bedrooms. Gist’s own bedroom contains his wardrobe and a four-poster bed with three hinged steps one of them concealing a chamber pot. The mansion has graceful front and rear porches built in 1860.

On the grounds enclosed by the original black wrought iron fence are boxwoods arranged in the pattern of two Confederate flags and several stately magnolias. Dogwoods line the entrance drive. A clapboard building houses exhibits of the local cotton culture and 19th c century plantation life. There are picnic tables and a pleasant quarter-mile nature trail going down to the Tyger River. Wild turkeys and deer may be seen.

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Craven House

Historic Camden Revolutionary War Park – More than 200 years ago Camden was the headquarters of Lord Cornwallis and the hub of British activity. Because of its strategic location, Camden was the focal point of two major Revolutionary War battles. Camden is the oldest existing inland town in the state and was part of a township plan ordered by King George II in 1730.

The 107-acre outdoor museum complex includes the townsite of 18th century Camden, the restored and furnished 1785 John Craven House,

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Cunningham House circa 1830 (tour office and gift shop), two early 19th-century logs cabins with exhibits,

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partially restored 1795 McCaa House, reconstructions of some of the military fortifications, the reconstructed

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and furnished Joseph Kershaw mansion, headquarters for Lord Cornwallis, a blacksmith exhibit and a .6-mile Nature Trail.

Those wishing to stretch their legs will enjoy the Old Camden Trace, a 3.5-mile walk through Historic Camden, the Nature Trail, the 1758 Quaker Cemetery and numerous other landmarks of early Camden.

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Parsons Mountain Lake Recreation Area in Abbeville is a quiet wooded area with a lake as the centerpiece which is devoted to tent and trailer camping, picnicking, hiking, riding and fishing. There is a large picnic grove by a supervised swimming area on the lakeshore and a boat ramp for fishermen. One can fish for crappie, catfish, bass and other species common to the region.

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The park also has a corral. A trail leads to a fire tower passing by a series of pits dug in the mid-1800s by miners in search for gold. From the top of the 80-foot tower, one has a panoramic view of the mixed pine and hardwood forests of the Carolina Piedmont. In the woods are deer and small mammals and a variety of birds. Indian paintbrush and lady’s slipper are among the wildflowers that grow along the woodland trails.

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Orangeburg National Fish Hatchery in Orangeburg was established in 1912 and has an aquarium where one can get a look at most of the species here. There are largemouth bass, striped bass, channel catfish, bluegills and sunfish which are bred here for stocking federal waters. Bluegills are also used to control algae in the rearing ponds. Mature fish brought to the hatchery by commercial fishermen are kept in a holding house from their egg-laying stage until the fry – two or three months old – are ready for release into the ocean.

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Santee National Wildlife Refuge – There are four separate units that make up this 15,095-acre tract all flanked by Lake Marion which is the largest lake in South Carolina. Here one can find a vast array of bird, mammal, fish, reptile and amphibian species that thrive in a protected environment.

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The visitor center on a cove called Scott’s Lake has a diorama, an aquarium and other displays that help to acquaint nature lovers with some of the wildlife found at the reserve including American bald eagles, ospreys, river otters, cottonmouths. striped bass and alligators.

Fort Watson located across from Scott’s Lake was recaptured from the British in 1781 by General Francis (“The Swamp Fox”) Marion. The area is ideal for hiking, biking and fishing. Lake Marion is known for its Atlantic sturgeon, freshwater eels, chain pickerel, and bluegills. Each unit in the refuge has its own boat ramp. Bird watchers can get a free printed checklist of the 293 species observed here. Among those that are permanent to the refuge are pied-billed grebes, little blue herons, blue-winged teals, and Cooper’s hawks. Visiting species include American woodcocks, Barred owls and rock doves.

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Rivers Bridge State Park – Here in February 1865 a force of Confederate artillery, cavalry, and infantry under General Lafayette McLaws fought in vain to stop General William T. Sherman on his devastating march from Savannah north to Virginia. Being outnumbered the Confederates could only delay Sherman for two days before he went on to burn McPhersonville and Columbia. The Confederate soldiers who died at that time were reburied in the park and a monument was erected.

The park facilities now include campsites, picnic areas, a swimming pool, a wading pool for children and a playground. There is a mile-long nature trail beneath pines and live oaks draped with Spanish moss. In early April one can observe colorful wisteria, dogwoods and native azalea. Fishing along the river and on a creek yields crappies, catfish, gar and largemouth bass. The war is recalled by a small brick museum which contains a battle flag that was flown here and other reminders of the conflict.

Rivers Bridge State Park is now on the National Register of Historic Places and is the only state historic site in South Carolina that commemorates the Civil War. The park also offers educational programs about the battle and military life during the Civil War.

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Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge is located in Awendaw. Basically, the area remains almost the same as it was in the days of the Sewee Indians who fished and hunted here and the days of the pirates who liked the maze of waterways. The refuge extends 22-miles along South Carolina’s Atlantic coast and encompasses 66,267 acres of barrier islands, salt marshes, intricate coastal waterways, long sandy beaches, fresh and brackish water impoundments and maritime forest. This makes it an ideal environment for such endangered species as the pelican and loggerhead turtle.

At the visitor center at Moores Landing one can get a bird list of the 262 species found here plus 76 which are considered rare. Wildlife frequently seen include white-tailed deer, southern fox squirrels and racoons. One can catch sight of river otters or dolphins cruising along the creeks and bays. Alligators should be kept an eye out for and the poisonous snakes of the area such as cottonmouths and copperheads.

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The focal point for visitors is Bulls Island. A two-mile trail with informative plaques leads through a lush forest of live oaks, magnolias, and loblolly pines. Shrubs include cabbage palmetto, wax myrtle and holly. There is also a fine beach and fishing is available. In the ponds, one may catch largemouth bass and bream. Surf fishermen try for channel bass. Access to Bull Island is by ferry from Moore’s Landing.

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Currently, the refuge is actively working to aid the recovery of the threatened Loggerhead Sea Turtle which is a frequent summertime visitor to the refuge’s beaches. On Bulls Island and Cape Island, Loggerhead Sea Turtles lay their eggs and shorebirds nest on the refuge.

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Lighthouse Island’s two lighthouses are no longer operational but stand as historic sentinels to the past.

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  1. What a stunning adventure! Thanks for sharing. Love the pics.

    • Glad you enjoyed the tour. I chose the photos online. With so many usual tourist opportunities in the U.S, I figured it would be nice to know about some unusual ones too.

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