Laurel Hill County Park
By Claire Vaughan
The stately oaks of Laurel Hill create the feel of going back in time. Images by the author.
Laurel Hill County Park is not simply a site for sports fields and gyms, as the first view when driving up might suggest. If you take a closer look, you will see that this park is valuable also for its extensive network of walking trails behind the activity areas. These trails cover around five miles and wind through a variety of natural scenes, including the driveway of the historic Laurel Hill Plantation.
Finding the trailhead of these paths was not as clear as some of the other hikes I have done, but once we came upon it, it was as though the environment changed completely. Located behind one of the fields in the recreation area, the trail starts on the outskirts of a large body of woods; I liked the fact that there is contrast within the park as the dynamic switches from sporting fields to a serene nature walk. The difficulty of finding the trailhead was made up by its clear map of the six different paths available, creating accessibility and an understanding of the area.
Stepping onto the trail, we were immediately surrounded by tall trees shedding orange, red and brown leaves that danced through the breeze on their way to the ground. Most of the trail consisted of this colorful fall scene but was interspersed with a small pond- and swamplike areas with shorter palms and cypress trees. The versatility of natural elements on this trail made it both interesting and representative of the diverse ecosystems of the Lowcountry.
After walking on the peaceful forested trail for a bit, we came upon a crossroads in which different paths may be chosen. Near this crossroad is a long, elegant driveway of the plantation that was previously located in this park. The dirt road is centered between lines of magnificent oak trees hung with silvery Spanish moss, welcoming those who choose to walk down it. Opposite from the driveway is a field, a quaint covered picnic area and an old brick well. This was the most interesting part of the walk because it felt like a hidden pocket of history. I can almost imagine a horse-drawn carriage going down the driveway or someone fetching water from the well. This area thus proves valuable not only for its physical beauty but also for its historical significance, which is part of the greater story of Charleston.
The park features an original brick well.
Overall, I highly recommend a trip out to the historic Laurel Hill County Park. Whether you go for a long run or a casual walk, the beauty and versatility of this park will not disappoint.
Date established: 2011
Current status: owned and operated by Charleston County Parks
Price of admission: $1 per person
Address: 1251 Park West Blvd. Mount Pleasant, S.C. 29466
Hours of operation: daily, sunrise to sunset