I was reading one of those “Top Ten Things to Do in South Carolina” or some such list one day and thinking, “All these things are pretty far away. Charleston, Greenville, blah, blah, blah …” and then one of them caught my eye: Peachtree Rock Heritage Preserve in Lexington County! There is a waterfall! It is free! I put the address (883 Peachtree Rock Road, Lexington 29073) into my GPS and found that it’s maybe a 30-minute drive from my house. We could totally manage that.
So, on my next day off, a friend and I loaded up our kids and took it upon ourselves to discover this local treasure. We had a blast. We each brought a 5-year-old boy, and I also had my 3-year-old daughter and my 2-year-old son. Here’s my list of do’s and don’ts if you decide to discover Peachtree Rock for yourself.
DO look at the trail map first. We didn’t think to consult it until we were so deep in the trail, there was nothing to do but to keep going and circle back. It could’ve been a 2-mile hike. It ended up being closer to 5. The 5-year-olds did great. My 3-year-old, not so much. There *are* trail signs, but I still can’t tell you which ones mean what. If you, like us, get in there deep, just follow the ones back to the parking lot. There aren’t signs that say “Waterfall – this way” or “This way to Little Peachtree Rock — you have to look around you and listen, so you know when to follow one of the rabbit trails off to the side.
DO wear long pants and comfortable walking shoes. At times the trail is very narrow, with foliage brushing your legs. I didn’t *see* any poison ivy or poison oak, but that doesn’t mean it’s not out there some where.
DO bring your camera! (Or at least a phone capable of taking good pictures.) There are some really amazing little rock formations along the trail as well as the ones featured on the map.
DO pack water bottles. Even a short hike can leave you and your companions thirsty, and there are some uphill bits.
DO take as much time as you can. I wouldn’t plan a trip into the preserve when you have a somewhere you need to be within an hour or so. You may end up down a different path, like we did. All told, we spent about 4 hours wandering the trails, and for most of it, kept up a good pace.
DON’T even think about bringing a stroller. This is not the place. I wore my 2-year-old, and sometimes my 3-year-old, and at times, I carried both. I was prepared for that with a backpack style carrier. (For the curious, this is a Lillebaby Airflow. It is made of mostly mesh, so it is totally breathable, a must in our weather! It’s also pretty affordable.) I brought it along because . . . well, it isn’t that either of my youngest children are incapable of walking. However. My 2-year-old is a stop-and-smell-the-pinecones type, and my 3-year-old . . . well. Sometimes her legs get tired. So she says.
DO use the bathroom before you come, and encourage your children to as well. There are NO bathrooms, not even port-a-potties. Unless you want to find a bush to hide behind, that is. (Not that there is anything wrong with that. When you gotta go, you gotta go, after all.)
DO pay attention to your surroundings – that’s how we found Little Peachtree Rock, by looking up and around, and the waterfall, because even though it’s little, the sound is unmistakable.
DO plan on your kids getting dirty. Trying to keep them off rocks and out of the creek bed is like trying to convince a mosquito not to sting. Not gonna happen. Just embrace it. It’s nature!
Last but not least … DO plan on coming back. We certainly will come back, but hopefully, next time, we will find the shorter trail! I’m sure there is more to discover that we missed!
Have a hidden treasure in the Columbia area you think we should explore? Tell us about it! We are up for the challenge.