Like North Carolina, South Carolina contains within its squiggly borders a range of geologic features. From the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains in the northeastern corner of the state to the marshes and waterways of the South Carolina Lowcountry, there’s a variety of marvels to behold. One of the most unforgettable ways to experience this state’s variety, beauty, and culture is via the Palmetto Trail in SC.
Consisting of 380 miles of completed trails (with 120 miles still under construction), the Palmetto Trail traverses up and down mountains. It moves past lakes, across forests, and through towns. It showcases the state’s conservation and preservation efforts as it wends its way. Trekkers are as likely to encounter national forests and nature preserves as they are to stumble upon Revolutionary War battlefields and city sidewalks.
A Trail for the Ages
There are 31 primary passages from 1.3 to 47 miles in length. Sections range from easy to strenuous in difficulty. Visitors are welcome to hike or backpack any part of the trail. On the other hand, mountain bikers, horseback riders, and campers are encouraged to limit their activities to certain sections of the trail.
Launched in 1994, this project is now South Carolina’s longest pedestrian and bicycle trail. The Palmetto Trail in SC splits the state from its northwestern corner to its southeastern corner. However, it is more than two hours away from any part of South Carolina’s borders. In total, the creation of Palmetto Trail preserved over 20,000 acres of land through trusts and other formal agreements with public and private landowners. The result is a project that maximizes and conserves resources throughout the state. And, at the same time, it’s reasonably accessible to all of the state’s residents. It’s a true community initiative both in its execution and end result.
“The Trail is meant to bring people together—young and old, rich and poor. It’s not just for hard-core backpackers. It’s also for families who want to get out into the woods,” explains Anne Springs Close, the Founding Director of Palmetto Conservation, which is the organization that envisioned and now manages the Palmetto Trail.
Preserve and Promote
Palmetto Conservation, a statewide nonprofit founded in 1989, strives to preserve and promote South Carolina’s natural and cultural resources. To create the Palmetto Trail, Palmetto Conservation has worked alongside the Palmetto Conservation Corps. The Corps is a state AmeriCorp Program with a mission to encourage sustainable communities and advance conservation. In addition to the initial construction of the trail, the Corps also contributes to trail maintenance. Through frequent hard work, these volunteers keep paths clear and in good shape.
The Palmetto Trail in SC is open year-round to the public. However, guests would be wise to exercise caution when passing through certain sections during hunting season. Perhaps you will choose to return to the same beloved passage time and time again. Or you may traverse the entire trail one section at a time over the course of many months. You may even challenge yourself to become one of the few and far-between thru-hikers. No matter how you visit, the Palmetto Trail is a truly unique way to immerse yourself in South Carolina’s rich history, diverse landscape, and colorful culture.