Union County, South Carolina (ish)

We chose the Union County area to do a bunch of a short hikes in on a random weekday because:

  1. We had not really ever been to that part of South Carolina.
  2. It seemed like a place people wouldn’t necessarily flock to to hike during the Coronovirus shutdowns.

So first we went to Musgrove Mill State Historic Site which is actually a battlefield themed park but has some nice nature hikes as well.

Horseshoe Falls @ Musgrove Mill

The highlight is Horseshoe falls which is actually a very short hike (maybe 0.1 miles?) from the parking area on the north side of the river. This is a pretty section of river with sandy banks and easy rock scrambling at these water levels. It is also not a horseshoe at these water levels but looks like it would be at higher water.

Next up was Rose Hill Plantation, the former home of 1860s South Carolina governor William Gist. The house was closed due to COVID-19 but the grounds were open and there are a couple nice trails behind the home through the woods (formerly cotton fields). There are in the neighborhood of 2-5 miles of trails here depending on the loops you choose.

Magnolias in front of Rose Hill Plantation

Finally we went to Pacolet River Heritage Preserve which, for the record, is NOT in Union County but we had to choose a title for this entry and Union County won. Sorry Spartanburg.

Anyway, this is basically a small lot at the end of dirt road that will have your wife questioning if your directions are correct (mine did anyway). There is one trail here, it’s about a mile and half in length and ends along the Pacolet River at the site of a former bridge that was destroyed in a flood (interesting info on this at the trailhead).

Bridge remnants on the Pacolet River

The river area is nice, we saw a lot of turtles and there is a soapstone quarry site in the vicinity that has been used for thousands of years (literally). The trailhead also has info on that.

Whiteside / sol’s creek

These are two short hikes we did the same day, starting with the Whiteside Mountain loop trail just outside of Cashiers, NC. This is a popular day hike, it’s only about a 2 mile loop in total. Might be more exciting if you’re nervous around heights or maybe don’t expect a few steel cables will keep you from falling over the 700 foot cliff alongside the trail.   The views are awesome though.

Florence Preserve

Next up was a totally different kind of hike.   We went to Sol’s Creek just east of the town of Argula, NC.  Calling it a town is way beyond a stretch but it shows up as such on USGS maps as well as (shockingly) Google maps.    No trailhead for this one, just a guard rail to jump over.  Best way to find this one is to find Sol’s Creek and then find where it crosses 281.  You want to go a half mile upstream which can be accomplished by a combination of deer paths on both sides of the river and walking up the river itself.   We found this extremely small salamander on one of our river crossings.

Please note, the west side of the creek is private property where it meets 281.  A half mile or so from the road you’re notice the river is getting a bit wilder and steeper and then you’ll come around a bend and see this lovely view:

At these water levels it’s easy to get up to that middle level below the higher falls.   It’s kind of a fun slide too.   We didn’t try to go higher than that and wouldn’t recommend it.   If you’re experienced at orienteering and bushwhacking you can manage this hike just by following the river upstream.   A map and compass isn’t a bad idea though.

Div III Men’s Basketball Final Four

We went up to Salem, Virginia for the Div III Final Four since Williams College was once again involved.

Salem Civic Center
Salem Civic Center

Williams won their Friday semifinal against Guilford College in a relatively tense affair, but at least that meant Friday night was more festive.

Williams vs Wisconsin Stevens Point
Williams vs Wisconsin Stevens Point

Unfortunately, Wisconsin Stevens Point was victorious in the final on Saturday in another exciting back and forth game. The Div III Final Four is pretty low-key. It’s nothing like a sell out (at least not this year) and there isn’t a whole lot of pomp and circumstance surrounding it.

We also made a side trip to nearby Blue Collar Joe’s Donuts which is just north of Roanoke.

Blue Collar Joe's Donuts
Blue Collar Joe's Donuts

This is definately a worthwhile detour if you’re passing by on I-81 (which we do a couple times a year).   They have some very creative concoctions including:  Blueberry pancake with maple and bacon, PB&J, Turtle, Blueberry Cheesecake, Coconut Creme Pie and Lemon Drop.

Washington Cherry Festival

Since we were in the neighborhood anyway, we dropped by Washington during the week-long Cherry Festival.   There’s not really much of a specific festival per se, more a series of unassociated events with the name “Cherry Festival” attached – as in the Cherry Festival Croquet Tournament.


Cherry trees along the Potomac
Cherry trees along the Potomac

The trees are thickest in the lagoon area between the Jefferson and Lincoln monuments.   We intended to visit at least one Smithsonian as well (American Indian) which required circling the National Mall about 5 times until a parking space opened up.    


Washington Monument
Washington Monument

WNC Nature Center

We actually go to the WNC Nature Center fairly often since it’s located right here in Asheville, but we never post pictures from it, so here are a couple.

jumping wolf

In late afternoon before the nature center closes everything tends to be particularly active (it’s feeding time!). This wolf was doing laps, apparently to build up his appetite.


We also tend to skip the petting zoo portion but since we were with our 3 year old niece we stopped by. Now, Melanie has a new friend.