Trail: Lake Johnson Trail
Geographic Location: southeast of
Length: 2 miles
Difficulty: 3/10 (Easy/Moderate)
Last Hiked: February 2016
Overview: A circumnavigation of scenic
Trail Information: http://southcarolinaparks.com/croft/introduction.aspx
Google Map: http://www.mappedometer.com/?maproute=496630
Directions to the trailhead:
has a park entrance
specifically for Croft
visitors. To get there from the
interstate, take I-26 to SR 296 (exit 22). Exit and go east on SR 296. Drive SR 296 east 1 mile to SR 295 and turn
right on SR 295. Drive SR 295 east 10.5
miles to Lake Johnson Johnson Lake Road
and turn right on Johnson Lake Rd. Johnson Lake Rd.
deadends at the shore of
in Lake Johnson . Park in the cul de sac at the road’s end that
serves as the parking area. Croft State Park
The hike: For my introduction to
, see my hike on the park’s Nature Trail from last fall.
The Nature Trail and the Lake Johnson Trail are the park’s two main
hiker-only trails, but they offer very different hiking experiences. Whereas the Nature Trail takes you along
flowing Fairforest Creek, the Lake Johnson Trail circumnavigates its namesake
lake. I enjoyed both of my hikes at Croft
State Park , and I think it is a
wonderful natural resource for the people of Croft
State Park Spartanburg.
|Trailhead at cul de sac|
To begin a counterclockwise trip around
walk slightly uphill through a grassy area toward a picnic shelter to the
west. Upon reaching the picnic shelter,
angle left and look for where the single track Lake Johnson Trail enters the
woods. There are no signs marking the
start of the Lake Johnson Trail, but it is easy to find if you know where to
look. Lake Johnson
The trail heads west through forest consisting mainly of beech, maple, pine, and sweet gum trees. Uphill and downhill sections are short but numerous and sometimes quite steep. At 0.2 miles, the trail curves left to cross one of
tributaries on a wooden bridge, the only bridge on this hike. Streams in this area are quite small with
clear water and sandy bottoms. Lake Johnson
|Bridge over small tributary|
After crossing the stream, the trail turns south to head back for the lake. The grassy area you parked beside now appears across the lake to your left. The trail never strays more than 100 yards from the lake shore, so if you are ever unsure which trail to choose at an intersection, choose the one closest to the lake.
|Hiking the Lake Johnson Trail|
0.4 miles into the hike, you reach an intersection with the Lake Johnson Loop horse trail. Two brown carsonite posts bearing the universal horse trail symbol mark this intersection. Though no signs indicate such, you need to turn left here and cross another lake tributary to continue your trip around
. As usual for a horse trail, this and
subsequent creek crossings are unbridged, so waterproof hiking boots are
preferred for this hike despite its short length. Lake
For the next 0.5 miles the hiking trail runs conjointly with the horse trail. The addition of horse traffic means 1) the trail surface will be muddier and rougher than usual, 2) you will have to step around some horse manure, and 3) trail courtesy requires hikers to yield to horse traffic. Because horses are easily spooked by hikers and hiking staffs, yielding means moving to the side of the trail and allowing the horse traffic to pass.
The wide hiking/horse trail crosses first the dam and then the spillway of
. Nice views open up down the length of the
lake during this stretch. Immediately
after crossing the spillway, be on the lookout for the narrower hiker-only
trail that exits uphill to left. Only a
single brown carsonite post marks this point.
Angle left to leave the wide horse trail and continue your journey
around the lake. Lake
The unmarked trail undulates through a couple of steep but shallow ravines as it begins working its way north along
Lake Johnson’s east
side. At first you are quite close to
the lake, but soon the trail curves right and gradually ascends the hillside. The lake remains visible through the trees
downhill to the left, but this area marks the greatest distance between this
loop and the lake.
At 1.6 miles, the trail curves left as it intersects what appears to be an old road. A brief gradual descent deposits you on the south shoulder of the paved road you drove in on. Turn left and walk 0.3 miles on the pavement to return to the cul de sac that contains your car and complete the hike.