Touring Notes – Useful Information

The cove’s been humming along this season — and as usual, the internet is neglected as we all play outside.  ‘Tis the season for . . . whitewater.  Tons of it.  This has been one of our wettest seasons on record.

How much whitewater?  You can play around with the water level and flow statistics by visiting here:

Click to enlarge.

What’s going on underneath all this water?  For a lovely video from the Department of Natural Resources, shot just a few miles from the Cove, take a look here:

I love the way they tell you what fish you’re looking at.  One of these years, I’m going to know my river fish.


What we’re doing this time of year:  Figuring out our plans for a cider run.  Perdeaux Fruit Farm, formerly Purdue’s, on Highway 11, is the one of the best cider-suppliers in the southeast.  Last year Jon made several Friday-afternoon appointments to get his 5-gallon carboy filled as the cider came out of the press.  (You can just buy their gallon- or half-gallon jugs for the same price).  The apples are flash-pasteurized whole, and then pressed immediately, which is in our experience the best balance between food safety and freshness.   Great supplier, willing to work with you to get you the produce you need, how you need it.

FYI, Palmetto Cove has nothing whatsoever to do with the fruit farm.  Jon and I just like their food.

Read about the Palmetto Trail here.

Junior tour guide says:

  • It’s not too hard of a hike.  (Table Rock or something is a hard hike).
  • Not very steep except for a tiny bit.
  • 7 year-old carried a pack and did great.
  • It took half an hour or less to get in to this view.
  • There’s some different trails you can hike in a loop.
  • Not even half-day hike for this section — hiked about an hour at the most on this outing, including loops.

Campground closes Nov. 15th.  Come camp one last time before hibernation.

Poinsett Bridge, off Highway 25.  Read about it at Wikipedia.  Part of the Poinsett Bridge Heritage Preserve, managed by SC’s Department of Natural Resources.


My junior tour-guide informs us:

  • It’s a something-minute drive from Palmetto Cove.  Not that far.
  • You park across the road in the parking lot — not a busy road.
  • You can see the bridge from the road.
  • Cross the road and go down the steps, and the bridge is right there.
  • There’s a path that you can get down to the arch of the bridge.

photo courtesy of Wikipedia

October is my favorite SC vacation month, and one of the reasons are the monarch butterflies passing through SC this week.  There are so many gathered around the lantana my daughter tells me, “It looks like My Little Pony.  There are always lots of butterflies on My Little Pony.”  (Be assured there are no herds of pink and purple plastic horses around the lantana.  It’s safe to visit.)

I sneaked off to Portland, Oregon for ten days, sorry no photos because nobody would lend me their camera.  Well, the four-year-old offered me her Crayola camera, but I politely declined.  Yes, I am the only human member of my family who does not own a camera.  I never need one, because how often do I go someplace with out one of my photographers in tow?  Not often.

Jon stayed home with four kids (yes!), and they did this for six of the ten days:

three girls tubing on the river at Palmetto Cove

Because he would rather camp with four children and a dog at Palmetto Cove, than have to keep the house clean while I’m gone.  (And the house WAS clean when I returned.  Yay Palmetto Cove.)

You can see the water level is down considerably from the raging torrent earlier this spring.  At the usual summer water levels, there is a great kid-friendly tubing circuit around the rocks in the swimming area.  Children can do endless loops down the chute and then scamble back up the rock, down the chute, over . . . and over . . . and over . . . and over.  Pays to have a big kid who can help the littles, so adults can settle into a quiet spot and just lifeguard.

If you want a shady beach in still waters, from the bridge walk downstream on the footpath another four or five yards.  There is beach in the trees just below the rocks.


A few more notes on summer camping at the Cove.

  • Yes, it gets hot.  About 90 – 95 would be a typical high.  (Usually not much higher).
  • Down in the camping area, you will want to to have AC for your unit.  Tropical-types could just plan to be elsewhere during the day and plug in a fan at night, it does cool down a bit in the evenings.  But the camping sites get sun most or all of the day, so they do warm up.
  • The shelter STAYS COOL!!  Yes.  Outside.  The big picnic pavillion with all the rocking chairs sits up on a hill in the shade and is open on three sides, so you get a marvelous breeze.  Plenty of picnic tables (and grills) so you can take all your meals up to the shelter.
  • Of course the river is the place to be.
  • Not bad hiking up in the mountains, either, if you are a hiker.  Trails are all shaded, which means that there isn’t a view unless the ranger tells you there is a view (Table Rock has a great view at the top).  But the shade + elevation keeps things comfortable in a summery, not-afraid-to-sweat-a-little outdoorsy way.  Lots of beautiful sweeping panoramas of the forest floor to be had as you come around bends in the trail.
  • Pickens County Museum is a nice daytime trip if you want something more civilized and air-conditioned.  Highly recommended.  (FYI closed on Sun. & Mon.  FREE Admission, but cash donations accepted and needed.)
  • If you are hosting a rally at the Cove, yes both the meeting hall and the clubhouse have A/C.

Happy Summer!

Three Girls Tubing in a light Whitewater, Smiling

A few weeks ago we heard from our long-ago college hiking buddy Steph Jeffries*, now a naturalist at Duke University, when she saw Palmetto Cove’s new facebook page.    She had just been in the area working on a field guide to the  southern Appalachians, and was planning to include several of our favorite Cove-area hikes in the book.

Jon jumped on the chance to quiz her about some mystery plants he’d seen on the trail lately.  Steph’s answers are at the bottom.

Mystery Plant #1 – Seen on the new section of campground trail that leads from the river to creek overlook:

Mystery Plant #2 – From the Pinnacle Mountain Trail:

And Mystery Plant #3, source of an argument.  Jon tells Steph, “There’s all kinds of poison ivy up on the Pinnacle Mountain Trail”. Steph says, “Really?? I wouldn’t have expected it growing so high up.  Are you sure?”  Jon e-mails her the evidence.  [Hint before you scroll down: the person with the PhD maybe knows something about her field . . .]

Stephanie writes:

The first one is mayapple, Podophyllum punctatum. Look for plants that have two leaves and then look underneath for the white flowers in mid-April (maybe earlier for SC) and the fruits after that. The second is pink lady’s slipper, an orchid, Cypripedium acaule. The third one is something in the pea family for sure, and I’d guess it’s either a vine called hog peanut (Amphicarpaea bracteata) or a perennial called nakedflower ticktrefoil (Desmodium nudiflorum).

This is a great wildflower guide for SC, if you’re looking for one:

Thanks Steph!


*UPDATE: Steph sends me a proper bio, instead of the very light link I had up at first:

Stephanie Jeffries is a naturalist at heart and a forest ecologist by training. She has a Ph.D. in forestry from N.C. State, with minors in ecology and botany, and a B.S. in marine science from University of South Carolina. She has been a Fellow in the Thompson Writing Program at Duke University since 2007, and has taught in a variety of settings, including the Highlands Biological Station, NC State, the N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences, and the NC Botanical Garden. She has broad interests in plant conservation, forest dynamics and succession, and plant community ecology, as well as experiential and environmental education and service learning. She loves teaching outdoors and sharing the wonders of the natural world with students of all ages and backgrounds.

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