Native Hikes Project

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By: Doug Lockard

There are many wonderful trees native to our ecosystems here in South Carolina, and as such, are beneficial to the wildlife that evolved her alongside them.  This list below is compliments of the US Forestry Service here in our state.  These trees, if propertly planted, will very likely live longer, require less maintenance, and bring more benefit than the wide variety of non-native trees available commercially here.

White Turtlehead, Photo by Janie Marlow

My wife Patty and I love to hike at Paris Mountain State Park.  It’s close by and affords great cardio exercise in a beautiful setting.  We hike all the trails throughout the year, but our favorite is a combination we call the ‘Mutt Trail’.  It links four trail sections beginning in the upper parking lot, then proceeding north on the Brissy Ridge trail, then west at the intersection with Kanuga, and then south for a short piece on the Fire Tower Trail, and the last (and downhill) leg on Sulphur Springs back to the parking lot.  It’s about 3.3 miles with a gradient of only 195 feet (mostly on the second leg) and the signage is easy to follow. Because this trail combination is a virtual circle you get to experience a nice range of plant communities with their corresponding native plants that thrive in each.

Over the month of August, I began experimenting with a new picture identification phone app called ‘Picture This’ while hiking the Mutt Trail and I recorded over 75 native species with reasonable confidence.  It occurred to me that with a little help from others, we could map more trails throughout the Upstate with seasonal updates as part of an anecdotal observation project.  There are other plant identification aps we could also experiment with as part of the same project and compare notes on these as well.  If anyone is interested in this project, drop me a line at Doug.Lockard@Email.com.  

To learn more visit: https://scnps.org/activities/native-hikes-project

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