Thursday, April 29, 2021

The Palmetto Trail: Peak to Prosperity Passage

We've just discovered a new favorite trail, and the only thing I'd change about it if I could is to make it closer to home. The Peak to Prosperity Passage, a 10.7-mile stretch of the 500+-mile cross-South Carolina Palmetto Trail, is about 1.5 hours south of uptown Charlotte. But I guarantee it is well worth the drive.

The trail, preserved and maintained by the Palmetto Conservation, follows what was once a rail line and begins with a beautiful, exhilarating 1,100-foot-long trestle bridge across the Broad River. 

Usually, I like for there to be a "payoff" deeper into an outing, but I just love that this trek kicks off with something for everyone. Even if you don't continue on the trail (but I hope you do!), a stroll across the bridge is magical. We didn't see bald eagles (though they are reported to be in the area), but did spot dozens of turtles sunning on logs and a few otters playing in the river.

Just across the river, the wide, groomed, natural-surface trail heads west through shaded piedmont forest. In all, it crosses 14 wooden trestles over the serpentine Crims Creek. Some bridges include stairs for side-trips down to the creek banks (these make for great snack-break stops). Here's a trail map

The trail is flat and easy. And all along the way, there's an abundance of wildlife, from snakes to butterflies, birds and frogs. This time of year, the plant life is lush and green.

This section of the Palmetto Trail is part of the Kids in Parks TRACK Trail program. At the trailhead kiosk, you'll find self-guided brochures and signs to with activities to engage young explorers.

Also at the trailhead is a well-equipped bike maintenance station. What you won't find there are restrooms; plan your trip accordingly.

On a weekday morning, we had the trail almost to ourselves. I imagine (hope!) it gets more use during weekends and holidays, but there's plenty of space for everyone to enjoy its splendor. I'm already planning a return trip to this spectacular destination. I definitely encourage you to check it out, too.

How to get there:
The Peak to Prosperity Alston Trailhead is located at State Road S-20-35, Little Mountain, SC, 29075. This will show in Google Maps. Alternately, you can follow these directions from the trail website:

From Columbia: I-26, exit 97, take US 176 west 11 miles; turn east on SC 213; drive 3.1 miles, turn right onto Alston Road (1st road after the bridge); road changes to unpaved, take right fork, cross RR track and go under the trestle; parking is on the left at the top.

From Spartanburg: I-26, exit 82, take 773 to Pomaria, east on US 176 to SC 213; turn east on 213; follow directions above.

Don't forget to pack:
  • Comfortable walking shoes (sneakers will do
  • Bikes and helmets
  • A day pack 
  • Water (bring plenty; there are no refill stations
  • Snacks
  • Sunglasses, hats and sunscreen
  • Bug spray (especially during warmer months)

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