Palmetto Trail work continues despite cuts in funding from S.C.

Published 12:29 pm Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The local portion of the Palmetto Trail, which is primarily composed of a section called The Blue Wall, has been open and in use for some time.

But the rest of the Palmetto Trail, a proposed 425-mile hiking and/or cycling trail that will link South Carolinas beaches, Midlands and Upstate, has been hit by lean economic times like almost everything else.

The trail was being funded by the state, which had a lot of interest in seeing it completed, said Jim Majors, a retired engineer in charge of trail planning and construction in the Upstate. But (the state) stopped funding it a couple of years ago, so weve had to find other funding.

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Majors said the trail remains about 60 percent complete, but efforts are ongoing to both finish the Palmetto Trail and expand the Blue Wall section of it.

He also said a new six-mile section of the Palmetto Trail in Greenville County from Mountain Page Road to old Highway 25 is scheduled for construction this fall. That new trail would lead to Greenville-based trails such as Swamp Rabbit Trail, which winds from Greenville to Travelers Rest, and the Poinsett Reservoir Passage, which ends now at Orchard Park Campground.

The object is to connect Blue Wall and the trails in the Greenville Watershed to Caesars Head and then to Table Rock, Majors said.

The Blue Wall Passage alone is about 14 miles long, beginning in Landrum on FENCE property and winding toward and around Lake Lanier and then westward to Vaughns Gap.

The Blue Wall Passage is for hikers only. Campsites have been closed because campers were breaking trail rules.

I walked it about a month ago, and its in pretty good shape, said Majors.

Majors said winter ice storms and other strong winds had downed a few trees along the trail. He has cleared some himself and expects to do that again later this summer.

We had a tough winter this year with a lot of blow-downs and deadfalls, he said. I still have a few to get in there and cut out.

The Blue Wall Passage is only open to hikers, but Majors said mountain bikers continue to make outlaw trails along the route. He reminded hikers that the Palmetto Trail is the only official hiking trail at the Blue Wall Passage.

Majors said the Palmetto Conservation Foundation, which oversees the Palmetto Trail, is also seeking trail monitors in this area, specifically for the Poinsett Reservoir Passage.

If anybody is interested in adopting that section as a trail monitor and hiking it once a quarter or so and letting us know if there are any problems with it, they can contact us, Majors said.

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