Walhalla Mayor Cuts the Red Ribbon To Open
Stumphouse Mountain Hiking–Biking Trail System
OCONEE COUNTY, SC—Mountain bicyclists and hikers were all smiles on Stumphouse Passage of the Palmetto Trail following the ribbon-cutting ceremony that opened the new Stumphouse Mountain Bike Park in Oconee County.
With Walhalla City Council and other VIPs behind him, Mayor Danny Edwards cut the red ribbon shortly after 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, May 12, to open phase one—four miles—of the new park. Stumphouse Passage of the Palmetto Trail, a cross-state project of Palmetto Conservation Foundation (PCF), anchors the park’s trail system.
The park is adjacent to historic Stumphouse Tunnel and picturesque Issaqueena Falls, two well-known attractions in Oconee County. The Stumphouse Passage trailhead is located in the falls parking area. The passage provides access to the trails in the 400-acre park.
In remarks for the occasion, Mayor Edwards recognized the potential for Stumphouse Mountain Bike Park, which is owned by the City of Walhalla. The public park is an exceptional playground for local residents to engage in active recreation. The park also is expected to attract tourism and economic development to the city and county. Leaders in the city, county and state are strong supporters of the Stumphouse project.
“Working together we can accomplish great things,” Mayor Edwards said “and these new trails are perfect examples of successful collaboration and partnerships.”
Both the mayor and Natalie Britt, PCF executive director, recognized and thanked the many partners and sponsors who made the project possible. Among the partners is Upstate Forever, which holds the land under a permanent conservation easement. The easement allows natural surface trails that promote public access and active recreation in nature, but does not allow commercial or residential development.
In addition to PCF, the city, and the land trust, other partners and sponsors are: Benchmark Trails, Issaqueena’s Last Ride, Oconee County Chamber of Commerce, Oconee County Council, Oconee County Parks, Recreation & Tourism, Oconee Economic Alliance, Oconee Forever, Oconee Hiking Club, Palmetto Conservation Corps, Recreational Trails Program, REI, SC Department of Natural Resources, SC Legislature, SC National Heritage Corridor, SC Parks, Recreation & Tourism, and Upstate SORBA.
Local resident John Bodiford, who is a passionate horticulturist and garden manager of the South Carolina Botanical Garden in Clemson, praised the city and county for their vision in establishing the park. As he hiked the trail, Bodiford kept up a running commentary on the multitude of diverse plant species found in the park. The Blue Ridge Mountain ecosystem is a fascinating temperate rainforest with wildflowers blooming from early spring through late autumn.
The ribbon-cutting ceremony opened the 1.5-mile Stumphouse Passage of the Palmetto Trail and 2.5 miles of loop trails in the park that accommodate mountain biking and hiking. Phase two, which is under contract and scheduled to open later this year, will add another 6+ trail miles in the park. Phase three is in planning and is estimated to bring the total to 20+ trail miles over the next several years.
Stumphouse Mountain Bike Park is a state-of-the-art mountain biking facility and the only such recreational facility open to the public in the upstate. Because the trails are multipurpose, hikers and bikers are cautioned to follow trail directional signs and posted protocol for right of way. Motorized vehicles are not allowed on these trails (e.g., motorized dirt bikes, motorcycles, and ATVs).
All trails are designed and constructed using state-of-the-art methods that minimize erosion and habitat disturbance, and maximize long-term sustainability. Benchmark Trails, a professional trail-building company in Greenville, was hired to build the trail system to standards established by the U.S. Forest Service and the International Mountain Bicycling Association. Deno Cantos and his Benchmark crew use terms like big berms, rock gardens, rollers and tables to describe how the trails flow for mountain biking.
Part-time city employees will continue to maintain the common grounds in the parking and picnic areas, but volunteers are needed to help maintain the trails. Everyone using the trails is asked to follow the principles of Leave No Trace—that is, leave only footprints and tire tracks, and take only pictures. Cyclists are asked not to ride when the trails are wet. To volunteer, contact Palmetto Conservation, Upstate SORBA, or Oconee Hiking Club.
Palmetto Conservation Foundation is a statewide nonprofit organization, founded in 1989, whose mission is to conserve South Carolina’s natural and cultural resources, preserve historic landmarks, and promote active outdoor recreation. PCF’s largest and best-known project is the Palmetto Trail. PCF’s newest program is the Palmetto Conservation Corps, South Carolina’s only trail-based AmeriCorps service program for young adults. For more information, visit www.palmettoconservation.org or Facebook/palmettoconservation.org.
About the Palmetto Trail
The scenic Palmetto Trail is one of 16 cross-state trails in the United States and is recognized regionally and nationally as a visitor-friendly attraction. The Trail inspires active, healthy living and showcases the state’s diverse natural beauty, fascinating history, and rich rural and urban culture. From mountains to sea, the Palmetto Trail connects Oconee County to Pickens, Greenville, Spartanburg, Union, Laurens, Newberry, Fairfield, Richland, Sumter, Clarendon, Orangeburg, Berkeley and Charleston counties. When finished, the Trail will extend about 500 continuous miles from Walhalla to Awendaw. With 28 completed passages and multiple trailheads, the Palmetto Trail is accessible from anywhere in the state for day trips, weekend jaunts and longer treks. Passages are typically fewer than 15 miles in length, but range from 1.1 to 47 miles and feature wilderness and backcountry paths, urban bikeways, greenways, rails-to-trail conversions, city sidewalks, and even the steps of the State Capitol. The Trail connects private and public lands, state parks, national and state forests, Revolutionary and Civil War sites, and numerous cities, towns and communities. For information and downloadable maps of Palmetto Trail passages, and to become a Palmetto Conservation member and Trail supporter, visit www.palmettoconservation.org.
About Palmetto Conservation
The mission of Palmetto Conservation Foundation (PCF) is to conserve South Carolina’s natural and cultural resources, preserve historic landmarks, and promote outdoor recreation through trails and greenways. Founded in 1989, PCF is a statewide nonprofit organization with headquarters in Columbia. PCF’s largest and best-known project is building and maintaining the mountains-to-sea Palmetto Trail. In 2016, PCF inaugurated the Palmetto Conservation Corps to help interested young adults in South Carolina learn skills in trail maintenance and construction, assist with disaster recovery, and develop as the next generation of conservation stewards and leaders. The Palmetto Conservation Corps is South Carolina’s only trail-based AmeriCorps service program for young adults. To learn more about Palmetto Conservation, the Palmetto Trail and the Palmetto Conservation Corps, visit www.palmettoconservation.org and Facebook/palmettoconservation, or call 803-771-0870.
With Palmetto Conservation’s local partners behind him, Mayor Danny Edwards of Walhalla cut the ribbon to open the new Stumphouse Passage of the Palmetto Trail and Stumphouse Mountain Bike Park on Wednesday, May 9, in Oconee County. The four miles of flow trails are designed for beginner mountain biking with big berms, rollers, tables, rock gardens and more. The bike park can be accessed from trailheads at both ends of Stumphouse Passage, but the easiest access is the parking lot for Issaqueena Falls. The passage is open to hiking and mountain bicycling for travel in both directions. Riders are asked to not ride when the trail is wet, as bike tires will damage the natural-surface trail. Motorized vehicles are not allowed on these trails.