Sunday, August 20, 2017

A Hike Back in Time

The Catawba Indian Nation Greenway Trail is beautiful, mystical, and moving. The 2.5-mile natural surface trail starts at the Catawba Culture Center in Rock Hill and winds its way along the Catawba River through the Catawba Indian Nation Reservation. To hike the trail is to take a step back in time.

Trailhead behind Cultural Center
The first leg – the Culture Center Trail, or Yehasuri Trail – which runs from the Culture Center a half mile down to the Catawba River, literally walks you through history as you follow the same paths Catawba Indians have traveled since 5,000 B.C.; read the interpretive signs about the importance of the land to the tribe’s culture; and observe a Catawba dwelling, bark house, dugout trees, a story circle and an active archeological dig.
The next part – the Catawba Indian Nation Greenway Trail, also part of the Carolina Thread Trail – puts you in dense forest hugging the banks of the river, which is undeveloped on both sides. To gaze at the quiet, but mighty river, undisturbed by modern life, is to take a trip to a simpler time. I found it to be mesmerizing and enchanting.

We hiked about half of the out-and-back trail before turning back. The going is easy – just a few rolling hills and rocks and roots to contend with. Along the way we stumbled on all sorts of natural treasures – from turtles to butterflies to snake skins and a critter skull. Also, as is our modus operandi, we sought out and spent time rock-hopping in the creek.

I will say the spider webs along the trail were abundant. Which is just to say proceed with a keen eye and carry a stick to clear them as you walk. There are benches along the way to take breaks. Also of note, bathrooms are located in the Cultural Center along with a gift shop and historic exhibits. Definitely swing through the culture center as it has some really neat artifacts on display. Entrance is free of charge.

All in all, a lovely morning retreat. We will certainly do this trip again.

To get there:
Park at the Catawba Nation Culture Center, located at 1536 Tom Steven Road, Rock Hill, SC 29730. To get there, take I-77 S to exit 79 and turn left onto Dave Lyle Blvd. There are plenty of signs to the Culture Center once you get off the highway. Park at the Culture Center. Swing through to look at artifacts and begin the trail out back. The first leg takes you down to the river. When you reach the story circle with rows of benches facing the river, take a left through some gate posts to join the Nation Greenway Trail, which is 1.6 miles from end-to-end. To end at the Catawba Government Center, take the Loop Trail west .3 miles.

Don't forget to pack:
  • Water bottle: A must-have for any hike. You don’t need to pack extra; you can refill at the visitor center when you finish your hike.
  • Snacks: Throw in a granola bar, trail mix or crackers. It buys you time on the trail when your tank starts running on empty.
  • Backpack or bag: Something lightweight and comfortable to carry your essentials.
  • Bug spray: We didn’t see many mosquitoes, but ticks are always a threat.
  • Shoes: If you plan to do a little rock-hopping, consider Keen sandals water shoes you can hike in. Otherwise, comfy sneakers will suffice.
  • Sunscreen, hats and sunglasses: I pack ‘em everywhere we go, though the canopy was thick enough on this hike we didn’t need any of them. 

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