Advanced search
Walter Allen

"We did it!"

Something to talk about


In 1940, song writer and folk singer Woody Guthrie composed the popular song, This Land is your Land. Well, I am here to witness he stated the truth. South Carolinians stand up and take a bow. Your state park system deserves such wonderful recognition. After thirteen months and hundreds of miles driven, my wife and I have finally crossed an item off our bucket list. We have visited all forty-seven (47) state parks and historic sites. We are now listed among those who are known as “Ultimate Outsiders.” We have our T-shirts! We have our certificate! We have our photo posted on the park’s web-site. More importantly though, we have seen the state from one end to the other and from top to bottom, enjoying every minute. South Carolina is beautiful.

  We walked the sandy beaches of Myrtle Beach and Edisto Beach, all the while looking for and finding beautiful shells and shark’s teeth. Occasionally, getting our bare feet wet in the ocean. At Hunting Island, we saw alligators and then tailgated for lunch during a windy sandstorm. We visited the historic site of Charles Towne Landing where stands the Constitutional Oak. A live tree, over 200 years old. Not far from this site, but not in the park, is the 400-year-old Angel Oak tree. Truly a majestic wonder to see. We visited Colonial Dorchester on the Ashley River, and The Battle of Rivers Bridge, which by the way, is the site of the Confederate Army’s desperate attempt to prevent General William T. Sherman from advancing on Columbia. At Hampton Plantation historic site stands a stately colonial home once visited by President George Washington in 1791. An Angel Oak stands over 60 feet tall in the front yard and shaded the President while eating his lunch. 

Our travels led us through the midlands to Woods Bay State Park and its secluded board walk through Cyprus swamps only a couple of feet above the black water. On that day the weather poured down rain on us, but we were not deterred. I had two umbrellas. At Santee we viewed abundant wild life. Wild hogs crossing our path. Eagles and Osprey flying overhead. While hiking we avoided a multitude of occupied spider webs. Big occupants too! Goodale State Park has one of the most beautiful Cyprus swamps ever to view. A kayaking trial is marked for those water enthusiasts, but due to the sighting of an alligator I prefer to remain on the bank. Landsford Canal State Park is very scenic. The historic canal was built to circumnavigate the river rapids and still exist but no longer in use. A hiking trail parallels the banks of the Catawba River and offers excellent viewing for wild life. We witnessed two Osprey fishing! The white breasted birds flew in circles above the water before diving into the river and successfully catching a fish. We watched as each bird rested on a tree limb to eat his lunch. Oh, but to visit this park in early June and see the spider lilies in bloom in the river rapids. Magnificent! Located nearby is Andrew Jackson State Park, the site of his birth. The park contains a museum, a statue of the 7th president, and an amphitheater.  

 From the coastal parks to the midland parks our quest continued to the upstate parks. The mountains! The Battle of Musgrove Mill historic site, the only state park containing a Revolutionary War Battle site, has two hiking trails. Both are scenic and pertinent to the battle between the British and Patriots. Rose Hill Plantation site is located near the Tyger River. If one is quiet while hiking along its banks you may see Otters at play! Kings Mountain State Park offers a visit back in time with 18th and 19th century dwellings. The surrounding forest provides isolation and beauty, especially in Autumn. Paris Mountain has hiking trails for the physically fit. But it is a must for Ultimate Outsiders! Jones Gap Park is a majestic primeval forest. One must visit Oconee Station historic site. Have a picnic lunch there. Caesars Head Park has many hiking trails, most are long and difficult. Be in shape to tackle these. 

The parks contain over 90,000 acres of protected land. These are just a few. Several parks are located near the border with Georgia, which allow for water recreation sports that include fishing, water skiing, kayaking, and canoeing. Two parks, Hickory Knob and Cheraw, have championship golf courses. Most parks have camping facilities, either primitive or motorized. Several have cabins for rent and lodging accommodations. Sixteen of the parks were constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corp during the 1930’s.  

Any of the parks are worth a visit. But I must mention how you visit. Please do not travel the interstate highways. Take the back roads. You will enjoy the ride. See the plowed fertile fields of the midlands. Enjoy the forest of the upstate. Take pleasure in seeing the swamp lands along coastal back roads. Visit the tomb of Francis Marion. See the small towns like, North SC, Denmark, Norway, Ridgeway and Port Royal. See communities like, Pamplico, Coward, Turbeville and New Zion. Take note of the names of churches in rural SC. We passed more than a few of Mt. Zion Baptist churches. One of the most impressive Veterans Park we saw was in Bamberg SC. So, turn off the TV, get off the couch, and accept the challenge to become an Ultimate Outsider. 

Walter Allen has a BA degree from Auburn University and is retired from the paper industry. He is a published author and lives in Laurens County.


No comments on this item Please log in to comment by clicking here