Thursday, June 27, 2013

Musgrove Mill State Historic Site: Battlefield Trail (Blog Hike #382)

Trail: Battlefield Trail
Hike Location: Musgrove Mill State Historic Site
Geographic Location: north of ClintonSC (34.59700, -81.85589)
Length: 1.5 miles
Difficulty: 2/10 (Easy)
Last Hiked: June 2012
Overview: An easy hike past a waterfall to a Revolutionary War battlefield.
Hike Route Map:
Photo Highlight:

Directions to the trailhead: Near Clinton, take I-26 to SR 56 (exit 52).  Exit and go north on SR 56.  Take SR 56 an additional 2 miles past the signed park entrance to reach an intersection with Horseshoe Falls Road.  Take a sharp left onto Horseshoe Falls Rd.  Drive Horseshoe Falls Rd. 1.4 miles to the signed gravel parking area on the right.  Park here.

The hike: For my general comments on Musgrove Mill State Historic Site, see the previous hike.  Of the two trails at Musgrove Mill, this one is my favorite.  Not only does this hike feature the battlefield and a waterfall, but its location on a rural road away from the Visitor Center means that you are likely to have this trail to yourself once you get past the waterfall.  Enjoy this trip in a time machine back to the Revolutionary War era.
Start of Battlefield Trail
            Begin by crossing the road and picking up the concrete trail that heads into the woods.  The first 0.1 miles of this trail are ADA-accessible.  At 0.1 miles, you reach Horseshoe Falls, which is located in the creek downhill to your right.  Water drops less than 10 feet over layers of bedrock.  Horseshoe Falls is no match for the larger more popular waterfalls in the South Carolina mountains, but the large plunge pool ensures that it draws a small crowd on a hot summer day.
Horseshoe Falls
            Past the waterfall, the trail turns to dirt and meanders east with the creek downhill and out of sight to the right.  Some interpretive signs give details about the battle and the people who fought it.  At 0.4 miles, an unmarked side trail exits right and leads to a few benches overlooking the ravine.  Unfortunately, the young forest here permits almost no views.
            At 0.5 miles, the Battlefield Trail splits to form its loop.  As directed by a metal arrow on a wooden post, I turned right here to descend some wooden waterbars and hike the loop counterclockwise.  The trail descends gradually and crosses a stream and wet area on a long boardwalk.  Some ferns appear in the understory here.
Long boardwalk across stream
            The trail soon curves left and climbs gradually to enter a grassy area.  This area is mowed regularly, and it appears to have been cleared from brush and trees within the past few years, likely to restore this area to its Revolutionary War-era appearance.  As you enter the clearing and walk uphill, you are walking the route the Loyalists would have used as they were chasing the “fleeing” Patriots.  The majority of the Patriots would have been waiting at the top of the hill on the far side of the clearing.  Imagine how the Loyalists would have felt as they entered the clearing, out of breath from chasing the Patriots and about to go in for the kill, only to discover they had been led into a trap.
Battlefield clearing
            The trail climbs through the clearing to reach the top of the hill where the Patriots were lying in wait.  Only traffic on SR 56 just to your right intrudes into the historic aura.  After passing the Patriots’ position, the trail dips through a high ravine before, at 1.0 mile, closing the loop.  Retracing your steps 0.5 miles along the common entrance trail, grabbing one more look at the waterfall on the way out, will return you to the parking area to complete the hike.

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