PICKENS COUNTY — The wildfires that ravaged over 10,000 acres at Table Rock State park may be long out, but evidence of their destruction is still evident to hikers as more and more trails open back up to the public.
“I don’t hike here every weekend, but I do come here a lot,” said Mike O’Brien, a hiker from Greenville. “I was worried the whole place was going up but, I mean, you see the burnt logs and tree stumps and stuff but they’ve done a great job clearing it. The forest has a way of just coming back.”
At the hiker’s check in kiosk, a park employee stated even though the fire was damaging, it wasn’t necessarily a bad thing.
“People forget, but wildfire is natural, it’s nature’s way of clearing out old undergrowth to make room for the new,” she said.
Of the the trails that wind their way through the park, only five remain closed to the public due to the fire: Carrick Creek Trail, Ridge Trail, Mill Creek Pass, Mill Creek Falls Spur Trail and the Palmetto Trail.
Open trails include The Table Rock Trail, Pinnacle Mountain Trail and the Foothills Trail. The trail to the Carrick Creek Falls Overlook and the CCC Lakeside Trail are also open.
“There was a shelter on the Table Rock trail that I had heard was burned in the fire but it’s still there. That was good because I needed the break,” O’Brien joked.
Park officials stated attendance didn’t seem to be affected by the recent fires. If anything, it seemed as if more people than usual were visiting — although they weren’t sure if it was due to people wanting to see first hand where the fires had been or it was due to the unusually warm weather.
Either way, the park was swarming recently with people as hikers took to the trails with their dogs, families enjoyed picnics by the lake and kids clambered around on boulders next to streams and waterfalls.
“It’s good to see all these people out here,” said O’Brien. “And with Spring right around the corner, I think it’ll take off even more.”
Table Rock State Park is located at 158 Ellison Lane in Pickens off S.C. 11 and is open year round with varying hours.
For more information visit www.southcarolinaparks.com/tablerock.
Reach Kasie Strickland at 864-855-0355.