Destination hikers frequently concentrate on getting to the waterfall or the overlook or whatever so hard that they never really take time to enjoy the trail. Chestnut Ridge Trail (Chestnut Ridge Heritage Preserve) is one of those that needs to be enjoyed: for the terrain, for the fauna, and for the flora.
On an April 2014 hike, the writer had just gotten onto the trail when a hiker coming in passed our group at such a pace he didn’t even say hello. Given what we saw and experienced in the next 3 miles, he really should have slowed down and paid attention.
The time of the season you’re on the trail will affect what you see. In late March and early April, you will find Trout Lillies along the Green Creek tributary. Once you get to the foot of Squirrel Mountain, the environment changes and you enter a wildflower wonderland. As you can see from the slide show, a good selection of flowers are blooming in mid-April. Most abundant are the trillium, which literally compose a sea of plants across the forest floor. And don’t forget the trees. Tulip Poplars will be blooming at the top of the canopy. Carolina Allspice will be casting its pungent smell lower down. Rhododendrons and Dogwoods splash their colors through the understory.
Carefully checking the trail can provide evidence of deer or even bear. Toads, snakes, snails and other small animals will appear on the trail.
The show was excellent in mid-April. It may be different when you are there, but it will be no less excellent.
To get to Chestnut Ridge Heritage Preserve, start at the intersection of SC 11 and SC 14 in Gowansville, SC. Take SC 11 west for 4.5 miles to Oak Grove Road. Right on Oak Grove for 1.0 miles to the parking area.