Bicycling in the Upcountry

If You’ve Never Been To Croft State Park…

By: Susan A. Sistare for

When I told my brother, an avid mountain biker, that I was going to visit Croft State Park, he responded casually, “Cool. It's two bucks to get in. But I guess you knew that.”

Actually, I didn't know that.

“What can you do there?” I asked him.

He looked at me like I had three heads. “YOU'VE NEVER BEEN TO CROFT STATE PARK???”

I'm ashamed to admit that I hadn't.

But neither had my good friend Christine, a Spartanburg native like me. So off we went with our two dollars and drove the scenic route to Croft State Park, or what we locals know as simply Camp Croft, located just off Highway 56 near Pauline. This 7,000-acre natural site—once an Army Training Camp during World War II—is now a paradise for outdoor activities of all kinds.

Our primary objective for the day was to be on the water. At first we leaned toward renting a canoe (for four hours), because neither of us had ever canoed before, but ultimately settled on a kayak rental to squeeze in an upper body workout.

For a summer day in South Carolina, the heat actually wasn't overbearing for once, and a merciful breeze made for a lovely kayaking experience. My friend and I were accompanied by several Canada Geese, a few fishermen (you can rent a fishing boat too, or bring your own) and an assortment of interesting little water creatures.

And here is my short list of do's and don'ts for the Croft paddling experience—some of them more obvious than others—that came to me as I peacefully paddled along Lake Craig:

  1. Wear sunscreen.

  2. Wear a bathing suit, because you will get wet.

  3. Bring an extra set of shorts and shoes.

  4. Also bring a towel.

  5. Make that two towels.

  6. Use the bathroom before you get on the water.

  7. Bring bug repellant (or Skeeter Spray, as we sometimes say here)

Unfortunately, number one on this list is the only thing I remembered to do before getting on the lake. I was waterlogged from the waist down after our blissfully peaceful paddle. And after my kayak was safely stowed, I made a musical thump-dump-thud sound on the grass as I raced for the nearest bathroom. Another good thing about Croft State Park, though, is that it's easy to dry your clothes under the hand dryer in the bathroom. That bathroom was amazing!

After drying out, we hiked both the Craig trail and the Nature Trail. It is an easy hike by most standards, great for novices or those with small children.

In addition to hiking, mountain biking, and various methods of lake travel, one can also fish, camp, bird watch, go skeet shooting, ride horses (if you have your own) or find geocaches scattered throughout the park. There are also several picnic areas and playgrounds for kids. The park is open year-round with extended hours during daylight savings time.

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