Sunday, December 27, 2015

Cheraw State Park: Boardwalk Trail (Blog Hike #555)

Trail: Boardwalk Trail
Hike Location: Cheraw State Park
Geographic Location: southwest of Cheraw, SC
Length: 1.2 miles
Difficulty: 0/10 (Easy)
Last Hiked: December 2015
Overview: An out-and-back across a fabulous boardwalk and the dam of Lake Juniper.

Directions to the trailhead: From downtown Cheraw, take US 52 south 4.3 miles to the first of two state park entrances on the right.  Turn right to enter the park, then turn left at the T-intersection 0.9 miles from US 52.  Drive a total of 1.2 miles from US 52 to the large gravel/sand parking area in front of the park office.  Park here.

The hike: For my general comments on Cheraw State Park, see the previous hike.  Whereas the previous hike led to the backwaters of Lake Juniper, this hike takes you to the main part of the lake and across the boardwalk for which this park is famous.  I had been trying to get to Cheraw to hike this boardwalk for several years, and the experience I had on a late December afternoon did not disappoint.  Come here and enjoy this easy stroll often.
            The Boardwalk Trail connects the park office with the park campground, so you can start at either end.  I chose to start at the park office, which is located in the main section of Cheraw State Park.  If you insist on not walking the same trail twice, you could set up a car shuttle, but most people will not go to that extreme on a hike this short and easy.
Trailhead sign for Boardwalk Trail
            From the front of the park office, look for the large red/brown sign that marks the start of the trail to the boardwalk and the boatdock picnic shelter.  The well-worn sandy-dirt path heads northeast with the park’s playground and Lake Juniper to your right.  At 0.1 miles, you pass the large boatdock picnic shelter as a side trail exits right for the park’s swimming beach.
            Just past the shelter, you reach a raised wooden lake observation platform that features a picnic table.  Nice views appear up and down the shallow lake.  Soon thereafter you reach the start of the boardwalk.  A sign tells you that this boardwalk was financed by the Land and Water Conservation Fund, a federal fund established in 1965 to protect natural areas and develop recreation infrastructure.  Not only is the boardwalk over 1000 feet long, but some siderails make it wheelchair accessible.  Unfortunately, the trails leading to the boardwalk might be too rough for a wheelchair.
Crossing the boardwalk
            Take your time crossing the boardwalk.  The lake is only a couple of feet deep here, and the sandy soil acts like a filter and keeps the water quite clear and reflective.  The golf course can be seen to the left, while the campground appears across the lake to the right.
            The other end of the boardwalk deposits you on Lake Juniper’s dam.  Some people turn around here, but there is more to see if you turn right and start walking down the dam.  Views open up down the length of Lake Juniper, and a well-placed bench allows you to sit and admire the scenery.
View down Lake Juniper

Spillway "waterfall"
            At 0.5 miles, you cross the dam’s spillway on an iron bridge with wooden floor.  The “waterfall” created by water running over the concrete spillway is 100% man-made but pleasant to the ears nonetheless.  Another 0.1 miles of dam walking brings you to the trail’s unceremonious end at the park’s campground access road.  On the down side, you will need to retrace your steps 0.6 miles to complete the hike, but on the bright side you get to walk across the fabulous boardwalk again.


  1. A lot of your pictures appear to have a broken link or something, as I can't view them. Is there somewhere to view the pics?

    1. I'm not sure what the issue is, maybe a technical problem with Blogger or your browser or internet connection, because I can't replicate the problem: I can view the pics from my campus office and my home (on different computers) with no problems. The pics are a little large in file size, about 4MB each. If you keep having trouble, send me an email at mathprofhiker at letting me know what kind of pictures you want, and I will upload them to my Google drive and send you a link.