Sunday, March 21, 2010

Chestnut Ridge Heritage Preserve

Chestnut Ridge Heritage Preserve
Greenville County, SC
Saturday March 20th, 2010

Spring is Here!

Photos are posted here:
http://community.webshots.com/album/577089759yFWhdH


Johnny, Waterfall Rich, and I decided to explore the Chestnut Ridge Heritage Preserve in hopes of finding some early season wildflowers and some new waterfalls. Here are a couple of links about the Preserve:

http://www.sctrails.net/trails/ALLTRAILS/Hiking/Upcountry/ChestnutRidge.html
https://www.dnr.sc.gov/mlands/managedland?p_id=8


For the first official day of Spring we were treated to the warmest temperatures of the year so far. However, we knew the bright sunshine would not make it a good day for photography. That didn't matter, because I really just wanted to be outside to enjoy this beautiful weather. I wasn't planning on taking a whole lot of photos.

The Chestnut Ridge Trail is 2.75 miles one way to where it ends at the South Pacolet River. The first part of the trail was not very interesting but eventually we saw a few Toadshade Trillium and Bloodroot, so we stopped to take a few photos.
Toadshade Trillium


As we continued on, we saw more and more of these early spring wildflowers. In fact, I can honestly say I have never seen so many Bloodroot or Toadshade Trillium in one place! We ran into a couple of other groups of hikers and they were equally impressed with the wildflower display.

Bloodroot

We also saw some Spring Beauties, Phlox, Violets, Chickweed, and several other varieties of wildflowers.

While the trail officially ends at the river after the 2.75 miles, there is a lot more to this 1,900 acre preserve. There is also a network of Forest Service Roads and old logging roads. Across the river, several streams cascade down Chestnut Ridge on Hogback Mountain.

Rich crossing the South Pacolet River

So we shed our shoes and crossed the South Pacolet River. A wide-track forest service road is on the other side which we took towards the west. Less than a quarter mile, it crosses a stream and we could see the first waterfall through the trees. This one was pretty easy to get to. I don't know if it has an official name, so for now I'll just call it Hogback Mountain Falls.

Hogback Mountain Falls


After a nice break photographing the falls and wildflowers we continued on down the road. About a half mile later, it crosses another stream, so we headed off trail bushwhacking up the stream to find another waterfall, with several impressive drops.

Rich going through the Cave to "Cave Falls"

To get to the main drop, we had to crawl through a cave, so we decided to call this one Cave Falls.

Cave Falls

We continued on very steeply uphill through the forest and eventually made our way back to the stream above the main waterfall. There is another small cascade up here, but it really is not worth the effort. Since the stream levels out we didn't think there would be any other significant drops upstream, so we headed back down the ridge.

We continued on the old logging road a short ways and thought about trying to make some sort of loop hike, but since we weren't sure exactly where the roads went and how they all connected, we ultimately decided to return the same way we came.

This is definitely a great wildflower hike and the new waterfalls were an added bonus. As expected, the bright sunshine did not make for a great day of photography, but it sure made for a great day for hiking!

Additional photos from our adventure are posted here:
http://community.webshots.com/album/577089759yFWhdH

4 comments:

Naturegirl#2 said...

I very much enjoyed your delightful blog with pretty flowers and nice little waterfalls. and especially like the commentary.
Dee

HemlockMan said...

Nice trip report! I think that "cave" probably qualifies as an arch.

What are the trails like? I saw that it's a daytime only area. Wonder what would happen if one were sneaky and camped out there.

Jack said...

The only "official" trail is nice, well maintained, and easy to follow. It is relatively flat for the first mile, then climbs about 500-ft for about about a mile, then descends about 500-ft for the final 3/4 mile.

Then there is a network of old logging roads. I'll definitely be back for further exploration.

Anonymous said...

I found the main waterfall off of the logging road but could not find the cave and waterfall. The road to the west crosses the river twice. Is it at the first or the second crossing that you took off trail?