FYI: Palmetto Trail section completed near Landrum SC
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By GARY HENDERSON
June 26, 2003
The footpath that will eventually meander from South Carolina's mountains to the sea has grown a mile closer to completion this week.
On Saturday, workers, officials and supporters of the Palmetto Trail will gather to dedicate and open a part of the path that loops through 71 acres of the Foothills Equestrian Nature Center. This portion of the trail will be available to walkers, mountain bikers and, in some sections, equestrian traffic.
This new section of the trail will replace a portion of the path that forced hikers onto a busy roadway for part of their journey.
Melissa LeRoy, the equestrian and nature center's executive director, said the new section of the trail has been constructed on land the non-profit organization acquired last December through a major donor.
"We're happy to partner with them to make part of the Palmetto Trail a little safer," LeRoy said.
An AmeriCorps crew spent two weeks clearing saplings, smoothing out rough spots and building two footbridges.
Dave Rust, a 23-year-old University of Iowa education major who decided to do two years of volunteer work with AmeriCorps before he looked for a teaching job, was team leader of the work crew.
"We're going through doing the fine tweaking, right now," Rust said. "The blaze markers are up already, and we're getting the other signs all set (for Saturday)."
Hikers on this section of the Palmetto Trail traverse a terrain of rolling hills that straddles areas of South Carolina and North Carolina. The path passes through deep hardwood forests and mountain laurel thickets at 1,100 feet elevation.
The new trail will connect walkers
to the Blue Wall Passage section of the Palmetto Trail, near Hogback Mountain. It becomes part of the five-mile trail system already in place.
Yon Lambert, assistant director of the Palmetto Conservation Foundation, negotiates with landowners to seek their permission for the trail to pass through their property.
Lambert said this team up with FENCE is a good one.
"When we have a partner like FENCE say, 'Come on here,' it's great," Lambert said.
Most of the 200 miles of trail that are needed to finish the Palmetto Trail are in sections of Spartanburg, Greenville, Pickens and Oconee counties.
FENCE was founded in 1984 with 85 acres donated for the equestrian and nature center.
The organization grew in 1995, after another 40 acres originally owned by Jack Kimberly of Kimberly-Clark tissue company fame were donated. Since that time, the preserve has grown to nearly 400 acres.
Saturday's events will include an hour-long guided tour of the new trail by Chuck Hearon, who maintains FENCE trails throughout the organization's green space.
Both FENCE and the Palmetto Trail are participants in National Trails Day, a Healthy Trail, Healthy People initiative. Promotional materials for Saturday's trail opening point out that weight loss, reduced incidence of heart disease, decreased hypertension and less osteoporosis are possible with increased walking.
The first section of the Palmetto Trail, opened in 1996, was a path around Lake Moultrie, just west of the Francis Marion National Forest in Berkeley County.
About a year later, workers continued construction of the trail eastward toward McClellanville, and the coast.
FENCE is a 394-acre green space with hiking trails, picnic areas, equestrian activities, a nature center and gardens.
"Many people think FENCE is a private club," Melissa LeRoy said. "We're open to the public dawn to dusk, seven days a week."
Gary Henderson can be reached at 562-7230 or gary.henderson@...