Buzzard Roost in Oconee County is a 501-acre preserve with views from its 1,769-foot-high namesake mountain. The preserve shelters the smooth coneflower, an endangered plant. Birdwatchers should bring binoculars to see warblers and the occasional turkey vulture. The land’s former owner, Dr. Billy Campbell, says there are some “pretty neat orchids” in the preserve and the “best marble outcrop in the state.” Hikers can climb a moderate to strenuous trail loop to the top of Buzzard Roost Mountain. Directions: Go six miles north of Walhalla to S.C. 28, turn onto Whetstone Road, then Cassidy Bridge Road. Go one mile, watch for marker USFS 744 to preserve entrance. Drive three miles up a curving gravel road, turn left, and drive another mile to the hiking trail. Parking is limited. Nearby recreation: rafting on the Chattooga River, 11 miles away.
Ashmore Heritage Preserve in Pickens County is a segment of the Mountain Bridge Wilderness. It was the dream of the late Russell Ashmore, Sr., to establish a wildlife trail on these 560 acres. After his death, his children sold the land to the Heritage Trust program to ensure the area would be protected. Highlights include a natural bog and a rare plant, piedmont ragwort, that grows on a granite outcrop. Endangered species include the green salamander and the Rafinesque’s eared bat. The preserve is also home to black bear, wood ducks and deer. Visitors to the preserve first cross a creek and then follow a trail, once an old roadbed. The trail loops around the lake and goes back to the main gate. Hikers will enjoy the part of the trail that winds around the dam and offers views of rock outcrops and a water slide. The preserve is part of the Caesars Head Wildlife Management Area. Visitors should view water slides from a distance. The slides are fragile habitats and can be dangerous.
Directions: Where S.C. 11 joins U.S. 276, west on S.C. 11/U.S. 276 3.9 miles to Persimmon Ridge Road on the right. North on Persimmon Ridge 0.9 miles to parking area on right. Trail starts just up the road on the right. Nearby recreation: Table Rock State Park on S.C. 11 (864/878-9813); camping is available at the state park.
One of the newest Upcountry preserves, Chestnut Ridge, is near Greenville. The 1,669-acre preserve is named for the mountain within its boundaries that shields the white irisette, a federally endangered plant. The property includes mature upland and cove hardwood forests. The rugged mountains, separated by the upper South Pacolet River, include numerous rock outcrops. The river is creek-like within the preserve. There is no developed hiking trail; one is in the planning stages.
Directions: From Greenville, go north on U.S. 25 to S.C. 11. Follow S.C. 11 east past Cliffs at Glassy development; left on Oak Grove Road. Parking area on left.
>>FOR MORE INFORMATION:
South Carolina Department of
Natural Resources: 864/654-6738, ext. 15. Visit Website
Rules for all preserves: Camping, fires, littering, alcoholic beverages, motorized vehicles,
cycles and horses are prohibited. No plant, animal, artifact or any other natural or cultural material may be
taken or disturbed. Open during daylight hours only.
Upcountry information: 1-800-849-4766, Visit Website
From 2003 Almanac