Some of the most popular hiking trails in South Carolina’s mountain parks remain closed for repairs after record summer rains.
The rains damaged hiking trails in Jones Gap State Park, Caesars Head State Park, and the Mountain Bridge Wilderness Area. All three parks are located in northern Greenville County. Some damage was also reported at Table Rock State Park in Pickens County.
“We’ve spent the last couple of months assessing those trails and have come up with a plan to redesign some of the trails, relocate some of the trails,” State Parks director Phil Gaines said. “And probably more common is to… put some labor towards the trails and address some spots that were eroded away.”
He said the worst damage was along older trails such as Hospital Rock in Jones Gap, where a rockslide destroyed the hillside in June after six inches of rain fell in less than two hours. Gaines said the agency will wait before rebuilding that particular trail, in order to see how it handles the spring weather.
“We literally lost that trail due to pieces of the rockslide,” he said. “We want to assess that through the winter months and see if the area is stable during the spring and we’ll probably either reroute that trail completely or have to abandon it completely.”
The Dismal Loop trail in Mountain Bridge is also still closed, according to the park’s website.
Gaines explained that newer trails fared better because they are designed to meander gradually across a hillside as they ascend, rather than going straight up. The design helps to prevent severe erosion, he said.
The state parks service expects to spend about $1,000 on tools, Gaines said. But he expected to save thousands in labor costs by handling repairs in-house.
“The majority of the work will be done with labor from our folks,” he said. “We’re utilizing this time of year. When it’s slow at other places, we can bring in other folks.”