Hike a WW2 Firing Range at Croft State Park

The old folks still call it Camp Croft instead of Croft State Park, but it’s been more than half a century since it last hosted troops. Originally a vast complex of firing ranges, practice areas, service buildings, and barracks used as a Infantry Training Replacement Center, where new recruits were trained for the battle fields of  WWII,  it is now the largest green space within an easy drive of Spartanburg, (and perhaps a modern example of beating swords into plowshares).

Jeep pool at Croft (courtesy of schistory.net/campcroft)
Firing practice (courtesy of http://www.schistory.net/campcroft)

Location: Croft State Park (also known as “Camp Croft” by the old timers & locals), near Spartanburg, SC

Is it goat approved? Yep. This park does horses, hikers, and mountain bikers. I have an email proving they are cool with goats (so long as they are on leash no longer than 6 feet and you don’t bring like 50 of them at once). I will be back to this park this coming winter to do more than just a little training hike with a 2 month old goat!

How you get there: Google it! This place popular and easy to get to, lying right outside Spartanburg, SC. Or just follow all the horse trailers on Saturday!

Time for hike: The distance is approximately 3 miles.This is a loop hike. 

GE DIGITAL CAMERA
The parking area, which is really nice and big

Best season to do this hike: Avoid mid-summer because this place does have yellow jackets and mosquitoes. For those unfamiliar with yellow jackets, these are the holy terror of the south. They live in hives in the ground which are pretty much invisible except for 1 or 2 guard yellow jackets. Of course, their location rapidly becomes apparent when you step on the invisible nest and the entire swarm exits to reek vengeance upon you. A secondary danger of high numbers of these critters is they will drive horses that get into them into a frenzy. A frenzied horse will run you and your goat right over!

Trails to Take

You want to start off in the big parking lot that you reach before the horse show ring. Yes, there are horse tie outs, but everybody parks here horses or not.

The fun way to get to the trail head (if there isn’t a horse show) is to go down to the horse ring, then walk left-ish and you’ll see a cut through the woods. This leads to a field for primitive camping.

GE DIGITAL CAMERA
Lake Craig boat house & fishermen

At the top of the hill is the horse barns. The trail you want is just beyond the trailer parking. So walk around the trailers and look for a gravel road going to your left. Take that and you will soon reach the Foster Cemetery, and shortly thereafter you’ll be at the dam of Lake Criag.

GE DIGITAL CAMERA
Concrete bag overflow for the lake

Walk towards the overflow for the lake at the far side of the dam (which is made out of these interesting bags of concrete – a testament to the ingenuity and speed required to build a military base in the middle of a world war). You will see a horse trail go down into the woods. This is Foster Loop. You will descend to a boggy area with a small sign that says “Rocky Bottom”, then climb up the hill to the boy scout shelter.

Just beyond the shelter is the turn to go down Beech Trail. This leads you off through the woods and over a small creek. When you reintersect with Foster’s Loop go right, and you will shortly cross a metal bridge and see a sign. The sign commemorates an interesting little Revolutionary War skirmish at a house site nearby (but the house site is not visitable due to issues with unexploded ordinance – see “Beware” section).

The trail then climbs back up through some nice peaceful woods and dumps you out at the end of the road you entered the park on, right next to the horse stables. You can walk the road or go back to the stables to return to the truck .

Trail map croft.jpg

BE WARNED!

  1. Keep an eye out for yellow jackets. And for horses running away from them.
  2. There are horse shows at Croft periodically and they use a lot of the parking so you might enjoy going on a non-show weekend more.
  3. There is an entrance fee to the park.
  4. Stay on the trails! They still find unexploded ordinance periodically in the park. Don’t use your goat as a primitive bomb disposal unit. Though they did clear out most of it back in the 90s so it shouldn’t be too big of a deal if you have to chase a loose goat through the woods a la Rambo style.
GE DIGITAL CAMERA
Camp Croft Ordinance Sign

In sum: Only on an old firing range is hearing something explode and then running away from the explosion probably not a great idea. Or you may contribute to local noise pollution and ballistic littering.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s