Length: 0.5 miles / Difficulty: Easy
Earlier this year we visited Calhoun Falls State Park just as the summer temperatures were heating up this May. Little did we know this would be the last month in a while we would see a good rain too. It seems so long ago now. Calhoun Falls probably sounds like there would be a waterfall in this park, but sadly no. When the lake was dammed a long time ago what might have been a waterfall disappeared.
Calhoun Falls State Park is located within Abbeville County, interestingly named after a city in France. One of the main interests in the area is the state park, which is home to Lake Russell, and the stretch within Calhoun Falls State Park is some of the least developed parts of it if you're wanting to feel like you're escaping a bit more. Not far is also Richard B. Russell Dam.
The South Carolina State Park system began leasing 315 acres along the lake to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Lake Russell itself is 26, 650 acres. The name itself is from James Edward Calhoun who was one of the first settlers along the rocky shoals of the Savannah River, which now is emerged in the lake. It leads me to imagine how beautiful and wild this area might have looked before dammed.
The only listed trail in the park is the Cedar Bluff Nature Trail running 1.75 miles one way, and to be honest it was a little too hot for us to want to walk the entirety of that. There was a short trail outside the visitor center we walked to take in some surrounding sights instead.
Perhaps this trail we walked was the Mariner's Nature Trail? That was the sign we saw when we reached the end of the trail directing us back where we had walked. It was only 0.5 miles total and an easy walk through the woods.
The trail was mostly level, and no one else was walking with us making it a peaceful hike. I can't imagine what it's like to even see grass this green again.
There are some views of Lake Russell near the beginning of the trail. After we walked across the bridge the views disappeared for the most part, but it does make for a scenic sight and a great picnic area.
This trail eventually branches off into a cart trail. To be honest the state park in general seemed way more a paradise for people riding on carts to parts of Lake Russell to boat or fish. I didn't seem many other outdoor activities such as cyclists or hikers out. I thought it was odd that starting the trail there were no signs, and then on the way back we had signs directing us. Even asking at the visitor center about the trails she told us they only had one, and didn't point out the one right next to the visitor center.
Calhoun Falls State Park is open daily till dusk. It's $2 per person to enter the park. It's $1.25 for seniors and youth 15 and younger are free. The state park is located along the South Carolina Heritage Corridor, so it's a great spot to learn about the area at. The state park is located in the city of the same name, Calhoun Falls.