Trail Mix

Message From The Director

It’s the fall of the year, temperatures have dropped and it’s the perfect time to hit the trail. Trail mix is an ideal snack food for the trail, and on long hikes I love to have some tucked away in my backpack. It’s lightweight and easy to store, and all of its ingredients are rich in energy. I’m particularly fond of the raisins and the M&Ms. As for the nuts....but that’s not quite the trail mix I wanted to address.

The trail mix I’m talking about is the abundance and diversity of trails found in your state parks. And what a mix it is – from the breathtaking views of the Blue Ridge escarpment to a walk through the marsh of the Lowcountry with its unmistakable smell of pluff mud – have we got a hike for you!

Autumn is my season of choice for a walk in the woods. The cooler temperatures lend crispness to the air and to my step, and the nuances of fall color quickly guide me along the pathway to a world of discovery and escape.

Here’s a sample of our “trail mix.”

Hikes to history are among my favorite. Like the trail that leads to the mysterious Bache Monument at Edisto Beach. Along the way you enjoy the view of Big Bay Creek on the left and the beauty of a maritime forest filled with the Spanish moss-draped trees that define the Lowcountry the entire route. Interpretive waysides tell the story of the trail and take you on a quick journey through time and to Bache Monument, placed here in 1850 to mark the western end of the Edisto baseline.

While here, don’t miss the trail to the Native American shell midden. An ancient, mysterious “monument” of sorts, the midden is a 2,000-4,000-year-old shell refuse heap that contains remnants of some of the earliest Native American pottery in North America. Get a glimpse into the lives of these earliest dwellers with an up-close view of the thousands of fish bones, crab claws and oyster shells that comprise the mound.

Moving inland, a hike along the Canal at Landsford Canal is a must. Along the way, the mighty Catawba River flows serenely on the left, the craftsmanship of the 19th-century canal to your right, and nature’s wonders – osprey, bald eagles and the amazing spider lilies – abound.

The battlefield trail at Musgrove Mill is the newest trail for State Park Service. Walk the battlefield and relive the Revolution through interpretative waysides that tell the story. While here, enjoy the beauty of Horseshoe Falls. From here, it’s on to Jones Gap trail for an abundance of “trail mix.” Part of the vast Mountain Bridge Wilderness Area, you can start at the mountaintop and work your way down with the thunder of waterfalls, elevation changes and the blanket of a living forest all around.

We add a little candy to the mix at Caesars Head State Park, also part of the Mountain Bridge, with a quick hike to the granite overlook and a trip through Devil’s Kitchen, a narrow crevice you can walk through. Kids and adults alike love this one. Then it’s off to Raven Cliff Falls with a hike that ends with a new overlook and a spectacular view of the 420-foot falls.

For the ultimate hike, venture the trail to the top of Table Rock Mountain. Recently named one of the three best Conservation Civilian Corps trails in the nation by Backpacker Magazine, you won’t be disappointed. It’s not an easy journey but the reward more than makes up for the hike. The view from the top always exceeds my expectations. For here you can see Caesars Head, the Table Rock reservoir and the Oolenoy Valley below.

There’s just something about a walk in the woods. During our 75th anniversary, make plans to experience a different kind of “trail mix.” After all, there’s no better time to “come out and play.”

See you in the parks,