Saturday, August 23, 2014

Andrew Jackson State Park: Crawford Trail (Blog Hike #485)

Trail: Crawford Trail
Hike Location: Andrew Jackson State Park
Geographic Location: north of Lancaster, SC
Length: 1.1 miles
Difficulty: 2/10 (Easy)
Last Hiked: August 2014
Overview: A quiet lollipop loop past the tent camping area.

Directions to the trailhead: Near the North Carolina state line, take I-77 to US 21 (exit 77).  Exit and go south on US 21.  Drive US 21 4.3 miles to SR 5.  Exit and turn right (east) on SR 5.  Drive SR 5 east 8 miles to US 521.  Turn left on US 521.  The state park entrance is 0.5 miles ahead on the right.  Turn right to enter the park, pay the small entrance fee, then continue straight to the large paved parking area at the main road’s end.  Park here; the trail starts beside the meeting house at the rear of the parking area.

The hike: For my general comments on Andrew Jackson State Park, see the previous hike.  This trail starts at the park’s main parking area and takes you on a pleasant forest stroll to the tent camping area.  This hike does not have the lake views of the Garden of the Waxhaws Trail, but it also does not have the crowds of anglers drawn by the fishing lake.
Boy of the Waxhaws
            The most interesting things to see on this hike may be at the trailhead.  The most obvious site is the famous Boy of the Waxhaws statue, which depicts Andrew Jackson as a young man riding a horse and gazing off to the west.  Created by Anna Hyatt Huntington, the statue was dedicated in 1967, and it gives Jackson a fresh look compared to the older Jackson normally depicted in portraits.  Beside the statue lies a monument describing Jackson’s birthplace, and the park’s museum housing Jackson and Revolutionary War artifacts sits across the mowed grass field.
Crawford Trail trailhead
            Just left of the signed trailhead sits the blue park meeting house.  The trail itself arcs around the right and back sides of the meeting house to reach an information board, where the trail forks to form its loop.  As directed by another trail sign, I chose to turn right and hike the loop counterclockwise.
            Almost immediately the trail crosses paved Old Church Road and reenters the woods on the other side.  Old Church Road is a rural road with little traffic, but what traffic does frequent this road moves at a high rate of speed.  Thus, you need to look and listen carefully for vehicles before you cross the road.
Hiking the Crawford Trail
            The trail heads south with the road’s noise audible through the trees on the right.  At 0.2 miles, a side trail goes left into a depression.  Some short but steep ups and downs need to be negotiated before you reach the park’s tent camping area at 0.3 miles.  As directed by another sign, turn left to continue the loop.
            The trail traces the north perimeter of the campground before descending slightly to reenter the woods.  This part of the forest is typical Piedmont forest with a mixture of pines, hardwoods, and a few red cedars.  At 0.6 miles, the trail curves left to join what appears to be an old logging road.  You ascend gradually as you cross some wooden waterbars.  Small chunks of asphalt and concrete get you over wet spots, but they look very out of place in the middle of the woods.
Waterbars and asphalt
            0.9 miles into the hike, the old logging road ends at a wooden vehicle gate and a junction with paved Old Church Road.  To continue, you need to turn left and walk about 150 feet along the road’s shoulder to where the trail reenters the forest on the other side of the road.  A short distance later, the meeting house comes into view through the trees on the right as you close the loop.  A short walk back to the trailhead is all that remains to complete the hike.

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