South Carolina’s Sumter National Forest offers miles of trails for hikers to enjoy. The Enoree District, located in the center of the state, is just a short drive from Columbia, Greenville, and Spartanburg. Hikers have a variety of trails from which to choose including a long section of the Palmetto Trail, the Buncombe Horse Trails, and other shorter trails.
The Enoree Passage of the Palmetto Trail winds for 36 miles through Sumter National Forest. The trail is considered to be of moderate difficulty. The Palmetto Trail merges with the Buncombe Horse Trail for 10 miles. Hikers will pass three popular fishing lakes: Macedonia Lake, Sedalia Lake, and John’s Creek Lake. Other highlights include some beaver ponds and an 80 foot bridge that provides great views of the Enoree River. The northern trailhead is located at Sedalia Campground. The middle trailhead is at Brick House Recreation Area off Forest Service Road 358. There is a fee to park at Brick House. A southern trailhead is located off Forest Service Road 379 (Franklin Road).
The Buncombe Horse Trails are open to hikers and mountain bikers as well as horses. The 31.5 miles of dirt and gravel trails are considered easy to moderate. Interconnecting loop trails of various lengths wind over forested hills and through valleys. Points of interest along the way include plantation sites and old cemeteries. There are good opportunities to observe wildlife. The Buncombe Horse Trails are located in Newberry County, and trailhead parking is located near Brick House Campground. From I-26 hikers should take SC Hwy 66 for 3.5 miles to Forest Service Road 358. The trails are open all year, and a $3 day use fee is charged.
Jew’s Harp Spring Hiking Trail is a short, easy trail in Union County. The trail out and back is 1.4 miles. The trailhead is located at Collins Creek Seasonal Campground, off Forest Service Road 393. Parking is only available during hunting season in April and in the fall. The natural spring with a carved granite fountain is shaped like a Jew’s harp. Water flows through a hole into a bowl. The spring provided water for Orange Hall Plantation in the 1800s. Only some bricks remain from the plantation house that was destroyed by a tornado in 1929. The water in the spring and creek is not safe to drink.
Rose Hill Plantation State Historic Site is located within Sumter National Forest, at 2677 Sardis Road near the town of Union. The antebellum plantation was the home of South Carolina Governor William Henry Gist. The Nature Trail is a gently rolling loop trail through the forest, with a.5 mile spur trail that descends a steep slope down to the Tyger River. There is a fee to tour the home, but admission to the grounds is free.