Francis Marion National Forest a great escape

Centered directly between South Carolina’s top two tourist destinations, Charleston and Myrtle Beach, the Francis Marion National Forest’s nearly 260,000 acres sprawl across Berkeley and Charleston counties and have enhanced the lives of visitors and residents for decades. Officially designated in 1936, the area is named in honor of the fabled American Revolutionary War...

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Hiking under skyscraper-sized trees in South Carolina

Congaree National Park visitors not only look out across a flood plain swamp but up as well. Up into the forest canopy that rises to 160 feet high. The Congaree canopy, formed by towering old-growth trees, is taller than that of any forest in the East. The giant trees include a 167-foot-high loblolly pine. It’s the tallest tree in this wet-and-dry park, the biggest tree...

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Proposed National Park System Addition in South Carolina

National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis will be in South Carolina Thursday, December 15, 2016 at the invitation of U.S. Representative James E. Clyburn (D-SC) to hear comments on proposals to add Reconstruction Era sites in Beaufort County to the National Park System. The Reconstruction Era began during the Civil War and lasted until the dawn of Jim Crow racial...

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Polluters In South Carolina Are About To Get A Huge Boost From The State House

For the past 65 years, if someone — or some company — was illegally polluting in South Carolina, you could sue. The law was put on the books so that if South Carolina’s enforcement agencies didn’t have the time, money, or political backing to go after a polluter, the average citizen could step in. Now, with only a month left in its 2015-2016 session, the South Carolina...

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Paris Mountain State Park Trail System, South Carolina

Named for an opportunistic traitor who supported the Crown during the Revolutionary War, Paris Mountain State Park was constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps during the Great Depression. Richard Pearis owned 150,000 acres including what is now Greenville, SC and this state park north of the city. Once no more than a rural retreat, Paris Mountain is now a bustling...

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Jones Gap Trail to Rainbow Falls, Jones Gap State Park

Jones Gap State Park sits on the Blue Ridge Escarpment in upstate South Carolina very near the state line with its neighbor to the north. Along with Caesars Head State Park, these two share an area known as Mountain Bridge Wilderness. The Jones Gap Trail follows the Middle Saluda River along an old roadway built by Solomon Jones in the 1850s. In this cove backcountry the...

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Raven Cliff Falls Overlook, Mountain Bridge Wilderness

Matthews Creek plunges more than 350 feet over Raven Cliff Falls into the gorge it has carved below Raven Cliff Mountain. One of a myriad of landmarks along the Blue Ridge Escarpment in Caesars Head State Park, the rim of this gorge offers a gentle and rewarding hike. Part of the Mountain Bridge Wilderness Area that also includes Jones Gap State Park, this is the most...

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Duke Energy Drops Plan For Lines From Upstate SC To Asheville, NC

Duke Energy announced it’s controversial plan to build a 45-mile transmission line from Upstate South Carolina to Western North Carolina has been dropped in favor of building two smaller gas units in Asheville. The company announced November 4, 2015 that it will replace it’s coal plant in Asheville with two smaller gas units rather than building one large one. Duke...

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Trial program to remove feral hogs from SC national forest

The problem with feral hogs in the Francis Marion National Forest has become so bad that the state and federal governments are paying three hunters to help remove them. Feral hogs are found statewide and are considered one of the worst animal nuisance problems in South Carolina. The hogs are descendants of livestock that wandered off. The Francis Marion trial program has...

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Platform overlooking NC/SC border coming to Sassafras Mountain

Legions of hikers and state “highpointers” have had the vision for years that if you build an overlook on Sassafras Mountain, the curious will come. Now, it looks like the idea for an accessible observation platform straddling the North Carolina-South Carolina border is on its way, thanks to a $350,000 gift to the S.C. Department of Natural Resources. The...

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Saluda Mountains Passage of the Palmetto Trail, South Carolina

This section of the Palmetto Trail borders the Poinsett Watershed used by the City of Greenville, and roughly follows the North/South Carolina state line. Enjoy a delightful forest hike that winds among the Saluda Mountains as you’re passing through one of the most significant wilderness areas in South Carolina. In 1993, the Greenville Water System conveyed an...

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Oconee Passage of the Palmetto Trail, Sumter National Forest, SC

This climb up Station Mountain begins within Oconee Station State Historic Site then passes through Sumter National Forest on the way to Oconee State Park. Along the way you’ll enjoy the 60-foot Station Cove Falls and a botanical preserve inhabited by beaver. The climb is a good workout, as a peaceful hardwood forest and a well-maintained trail lined with switch...

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New trail markers make Congaree National Park hikes easier

As the weather turns cooler and more hikers head out to Congaree National Park in South Carolina, they’ll find the trails easier to navigate than a few months ago. The trees that crashed across trails during last winter’s ice storm have been cut or pushed out of the way, and a new trail marking system is almost completely installed, according to Superintendent Tracy...

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Forest Service joins with multiple partners to host fun-filled celebration of Wilderness Act and Chattooga Wild and Scenic River in Oconee County, SC

When a special occasion comes along, most of us want our friends to celebrate with us. The celebration of the 40th anniversary of the Chattooga Wild and Scenic River and the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act on Saturday, Sept. 27, 2014 is no different. The Forest Service and multiple friends and partners have joined forces to host a day of outdoor activities on the...

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Karst Watersheds: Porous, Vulnerable, and Mysterious

Karst watersheds are dotted with sinkholes, caves, sinking streams, and springs, making it very difficult to protect water quality or even know where pollutants are coming from or going. The Chapel Branch Creek watershed near the Town of Santee, South Carolina, is one such area. In karst areas, belowground rocks are slightly soluble, so every time rainwater touches them,...

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Connecting The Dots Of The Southern Appalachian Loop Trail

What unites many of us in the Southern Appalachians is a love for hiking along the hundreds of miles of trails in our region. Ten years ago, Matt Kirk discovered that many of these paths form a loop measuring over 350 miles in length. Pieced together, this route, known as the Southern Appalachian Loop Trail or SALT, is currently 99.4 percent complete. With the exception...

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SC Upstate’s hiking trails are full of history

The Mountain Bridge Passage trail starts in an old ghost town that was the old Camp Spearhead, just off scenic Highway 11 in northern Greenville County, South Carolina. It is the only trail connecting Highway 11 to the state park system of trails in Greenville County. It also hooks up with the Foothills Trail itself via Caesars Head State Park. Running for about 4 miles...

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South Carolina Upstate hiking trails closed

Caesars Head and Jones Gap State Park have closed all or parts of several trails. Rangers are working to clear debris and reroute high water. TRAIL CLOSURES: Please see the following list for closures: Raven Cliff Suspension Bridge – Open route of Gum Gap to Naturaland, the rest of Naturaland closed Cold Spring – Trail closed until water recedes. Dismal Loop...

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With help from Boeing, the Palmetto Trail may finally be finished

Back in 1994, the Palmetto Conservation Foundation (PCF) decided the state of South Carolina needed a greenway. Connecting the sea to the mountains, it would be a sort of interstate highway for hikers and mountain bikers. In those days, South Carolina had a much different kind of state government. Then-governor Carroll Campbell allocated the first funding for what has...

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Congaree National Park hiking trails re-open

The mid-May flooding has subsided enough that all of the trails are open at Congaree National Park, South Carolina and this sunny but relatively cool weekend would be a good time to head out into the flood plain forest. Even at the peak of the highest floodwaters in nearly a decade, the park’s elevated boardwalk remained open. Now, the lower boardwalk and all of the...

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Foothills Trail from Sassafras Mountain, SC to Gum Gap, NC

Hiking a state line offers interesting boundary markers and competing blaze markings. This hike on the Foothills Trail follows the boundary from the highest point in South Carolina — Sassafras Mountain — to a convenient end point at Gum Gap in North Carolina. Because of the length, for us this was a two vehicle hike, with one left at each end. Expect a roller...

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Hiker is walking through SC via the Palmetto Trail

Scot Ward is charting a course from South Carolina’s Upstate mountains to the sparkling coast of the Atlantic Ocean, and he is recording his trip so others can repeat the journey. Followers had better like the outdoors though, because Ward is making the trip on foot. The Palmetto Trail was born in 1994 with the idea of creating a unified network of trails across the...

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Swamp Rabbit Trail shows its value

One of the most popular assets in Greenville County, SC is one that encourages physical activity, helps combat obesity, fuels the local economy, creates opportunities for family bonding and provides good, simple fun. The Greenville Hospital System Swamp Rabbit Trail now has officially reached its second birthday, and its spectacular success is proving that when it comes...

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Volunteers Restore Giant Cane Along the Chattooga River in South Carolina

In Sumter National Forest, the peaceful sounds of the Chattooga Wild and Scenic River can barely be heard over the clang of shovels and the squeaky axle of an old wheelbarrow. A work crew has been busy in the forest’s Andrew Pickens Ranger District, but instead of building with bricks and mortar along this scenic stretch of the famous river, the work crew is restoring...

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New Hiking App for iPhone Covers West NC, North GA, Upstate SC

Hikers who want to travel smarter on trails in the southern mountains now have one more good reason to stash their phones in their daypacks. A mobile app called Great Hikes of the Southern Appalachians now lets adventurers carry all the maps, directions, and other hiking info they need with them on their iPhone. The new app is the brainchild of Jim Parham, guidebook...

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Book helps SC Upstate families find the right trails

It’s always nice when an adage is proven right. Scott Lynch learned firsthand that necessity really is the mother of invention, after constantly being asked for good locations for family hikes. The manager of Appalachian Outfitters, a Greenville hiking and outdoors store, Lynch said he was “almost every day asked to recommend a hike to somebody.” Now Lynch has put his...

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Falls Creek Falls and Hospital Rock Trail, Mountain Bridge Wilderness, SC

Falls Creek Falls is a double cascade in the northeast corner of the Mountain Bridge Wilderness in upstate South Carolina that free falls more than a hundred feet. In winter there is a distant view of the top of the falls from 800 feet below at the trailhead on Falls Creek Rd. From the falls, Hospital Rock Trail climbs Standingstone Mountain along Falls Creek for ridge...

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Jones Gap Trail and Coldspring Branch Trail Loop, Jones Gap State Park, SC

Jones Gap State Park sits on the Blue Ridge Escarpment in northwestern South Carolina very near the state line with its neighbor to the north. Along with Caesars Head State Park, these two share an area known as Mountain Bridge Wilderness. The Jones Gap Trail follows the Saluda River along an old interstate road built by Solomon Jones in the 1850s. In this backcountry...

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Public invited to explore Congaree’s Big Trees on guided hikes in January

Join a park ranger at Congaree National Park, South Carolina for Big Tree Hikes from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. on Sunday, Jan. 15, and Friday, Jan. 27. The 6.5-mile hikes will take visitors to some of the largest trees found in the Congaree floodplain and show visitors how “Champion” trees are determined. Participants will learn how to take measurements and, perhaps,...

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SC National forest local treasure

The Francis Marion National Forest turned 75 this year, and the thousands of local residents who enjoy its wide range of recreational options should celebrate the commitment of public resources that have made its existence possible. The forest has played a central role in preserving native habitat and species, some of which were highly endangered. The state’s...

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