Renew Your Nature-Needing Soul with Two Preserves and a Poem

by Jason Greer

 

It’s no secret that the Travelers Rest area has some tremendous natural wonders of the southern Appalachians. And thanks to our heritage preserves, they’ll be around for future folks to enjoy a long time from now.

About Our Heritage Preserves

In northern Greenville County, besides our stunning mountain vistas, we have plants and animals that can’t be found anywhere else on earth. But for a while, some of our land was not treated as well as it could have been.

About 30 years ago, South Carolina became the first state in the nation to recognize the importance of sparing unique lands, creating a heritage trust program so that unique features could exist with little interference.

We are all familiar with state parks and national parks, and even national forests. But these heritage preserves are set aside to maintain habitats for their own sake. Of course, you can visit these areas, either for recreation or education, during daylight hours. But what’s special is that you’re just a visitor. The hand of man is supposed to be light here.

Two of the areas set aside as Heritage Trust lands are located off Hwy. 276, just a few miles apart, but with very different experiences.

Bald Rock Heritage Preserve

Bald Rock is about halfway up Caesars Head mountain, on the right, going up. At about 170 acres, it features a large, sloped, exposed granite face, where you can view the foothills below and all the way past downtown Greenville. It’s one of the best accessible spots to see spectacular sunrises in the area!

Featuring plants like lichens and pines that are more at home in the mountains than the valley just a couple miles away, this spot’s a great first taste of the Blue Ridge Mountains ahead.

For many years, sadly, this rock and land has been abused. Cars and other debris were disposed of down the slope. Even today, graffiti is found on this rock.

But since the South Carolina Department of National Resources (SCDNR) took over Bald Rock, concerted effort has been made to restore and unveil this spectacular resource to some success. The restoration has been awarded for its effort.

Ashmore Heritage Preserve

A few miles away down the mountain, off Hwy. 276, and a mile up Persimmon Road, is the very much alive Ashmore Heritage Preserve. Here, just off the small parking area and behind a gate, exists over 1,100 acres of mature, hardwood forest; streams; wetland bogs; and a five-acre pond at the foot of Campbell and Green Mountains.

Rare plants, like the turkey beard, and some types of orchids and even pitcher plants exist alongside creatures such as the rare Rafinesque’s big-eared bat and other waterfowl. It’s very quiet here, and remoteness like this is not to be missed if you get the chance!

School groups are encouraged to come up here, and there are educational aids from the SCDNR that can help plan student research into how these creatures thrive in this set-aside land.

There’s also a lightly traveled trail that passes through here that does go all the way up to Caesars Head that can be quite strenuous. But the rewards are tremendous, especially in the spring and fall, with mountain vistas and rare plants blooming.

A Poem on the Love of the Land

If you get the opportunity to see Bald Rock or Ashmore, know that many in this area loved this land. They wanted you and generations to come to experience its wonder, and for its natural inhabitants to be left to thrive.

The Ashmore land, in particular, was set aside due to the forethought of Richard Ashmore, Sr., who owned and loved this land. He wanted its unique features set aside in perpetuity.

In fact, he even wrote a poem that sums up his thoughts on the land, inscribed on a monument that still stands in his namesake preserve today:

Leaves are dancing in the wind as the branches nod and sway
As though each twig would like to say,
”Welcome, Friend; it’s a delightful day.”
And may these trees remain uncut,
And may this land stay free and clear;
And may God’s creatures roam and feed without the thought of fear.
Yes, it’s great to look upon a tree and feel the thrill God has for us to see;
Or to be shaded by its leafy arms
As well as thrilled by its lofty charms.
Here, the supreme Architect of all creation
Raised his hand to morning bright
And renewed my soul with nature’s great delight.

Refinery29 recently called us “the place to go when you need to clear your head.” We think they’re right! Ashmore and Bald Rock Preserves are just a few of the great places in/near TR for clearing your head, renewing your soul, whatever you want to call it. Where do you go in our area to do that?

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