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The Palmetto Trail - The Capital City Passage

Updated on July 13, 2011
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My First Segment of the Palmetto Trail

Saturday, May 15, 2010, greeted me with a pretty blue sky in Columbia, SC. At 8:40 in the morning, it was 75 degrees so I knew it was going to be a hot one. My youngest son and I had planned to walk the Capital City Passage of the Palmetto Trail. For me, the biggest question was would an 11 year old hike 7.5 miles?

Nonetheless, off we went. We parked the car at an apartment complex on Harbison Boulevard. From there we caught a Central Midlands Rapid Transit Authority bus to the intersection of Beltline and Forest Drive. We transferred to another route that took us into Fort Jackson where this segment of the trail actually begins. My son enjoyed riding through Fort Jackson. We passed through it on many occasions when he was younger but he did not clearly remember it and seeing the military environment was an added benefit for him which he enjoyed.

After finding the trailhead, we exited the Jackson Boulevard gate of Fort Jackson. We walked down to Kilbourne Road. This area was the first area of Columbia that I lived in so it was a familiar area to me. We passed by Brennen Elementary after traversing down Rickenbaker and Devereaux. My son was interested to hear that I had attended elementary school there as had his older brother and that some of his cousins did now. We would later pass very near his great-grandmother's old house as well as his grandfather's high school, Dreher. While this may not seem interesting to most of you, I was surprised how interested my son was in places members of his family had lived and attended school when they were younger.

It was sometime near this point in our journey that my son asked me if I was sure that I was not lost. I showed him one of the green and white Palmetto Trail signs and assured him that as long as we kept finding those we would not be lost. In reality, I knew right where we were but I think it was fun for him to think that we were actually having to navigate by these signs. I also had a map of this segment of the trail which you can see in a capsule.

We continued on through Shandon. There were lots of old houses. Many of them had been beautifully restored but there were some that looked like a stong gust of wind could be the last gust of wind they would see. While I cannot remember the name, there is a beautiful stone church on Wheat Street. Eventually, we found ourselves at the intersection of Harden and Wheat looking down into Five Points. I need to give my son credit for most of the pictures in the photo capsule as he took them with my phone. He particularly liked some of the large, old oak trees we saw. Wheat Street eventually led us onto the University of South Carolina campus and we made a right on Sumter and that took us past The Horseshoe and up to the grounds of the State House. On the State House grounds, we came upon the Pass and Stow bell. From a previous field trip, my son knew the story of the bell. It is apparently a replica of the Liberty Bell made by two men with the last names of Pass and Stow and is therefore called the Pass and Stow bell. You can see a picture of it in one of the capsules. The last segment of our hike took us down Main Street where we eventually turned left onto Laurel and walked down to Riverfront Park to the end of this segment of the trail. The park ranger was amazed that the two of us had made the 7.5 mile hike!

We weren't quite done though as we had to walk to the nearest bus stop which was actually further than I cared for by that point in the day. We did make it though and caught the bus back to Harbison to our car.

So, what did we learn from our excursion? I learned that walking through an area leaves you with a whole different perspective of the area than the one you have based on years of driving through it. There are a lot of details you pick up on when walking that you would not pick up on otherwise. I learned that the buses do run on time in Columbia (at least on this day they did)! I learned that I am probably in better shape than a lot of people my age (50ish). I learned that my child is a trooper even if he does have the patience of a gnat. While he enjoyed the hike, one lesson that hit home with him though had to do with the buses. While bus transportation was fine, I think he saw the value of having a vehicle and how fortunate people are that have them. People with autos are not at the mercy of the bus schedule as to when they can come and go and if you have to make a transfer there can be considerable down time spent waiting on a bus.

All in all, this first segment of the trail was enjoyable but not really what you would think of when you think of hiking. This was mostly due to the very urban aspect of it. There were no streams or forests to walk through or unusual wildlife to view. However, as I noted above it did result in a very different perspective than the one you would typically get in a car driving through the same area. All that being said the urban part of the Palmetto Trail is now out of the way. Hopefully, you will find the next installment to be more typical of what you would expect when you go hiking!


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