Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Bald Rock Heritage Preserve

There are places in the Upstate so beautiful, so unique, that we take all our visitors there. It was on our way back from Pretty Place (a really tough act to follow!) with Andrejs and Anna that we stopped at Bald Rock once more, even though they had been once before on a previous visit.

Headed north on US 276 towards Caesars Head State Park you will pass a small turn-out about 5 miles before reaching the Park headquarters. This time of year there is almost always someone selling something out of a pickup – usually local honey or jams – parked at the turnoff, really just a wide spot in the road. Exercise extreme caution when pulling off or returning to the highway as a portion of the dirt parking area is in the curve.  After parking on the east side of the road cross the wooden footbridge to the rock outcrop. If you’re using mapping software or apps using the intersection of 276 & Club Terrace Drive in Cleveland will get you very close to the turn off; it’s actually just 1/10th of a mile south.

Bald Rock is a granite outcrop about two acres in size, surrounded by seeps, waterslides and a variety of mixed pines and hardwoods. Lichens and mosses have colonized a percentage of the rock outcrops, while the rest has been spray-painted by vandals. Although visitors are often dismayed by the unimaginative “john was here” and “harry loves sally” graffiti, the elements eventually prevail, wiping the slate clean for the next artist to use as his/her canvas.

The Bald Rock Heritage Preserve totals 165 acres and is part of the larger Mountain Bridge Wilderness Area. Adjacent to Caesars Head SP, the reserve is key in protecting two headwater streams that are essential in maintaining several groups of rare plant species including the nationally threatened piedmont ragwort, state threatened grass-of-parnassus, and other rare species such as the New England cottontail, woodrat and northern long-eared bat. From Bald Rock visitors gaze out over Greenville and Pickens counties with a great view of the east side of Table Rock Mountain

On our recent visit the boys were able to explore further than they had ever been before thanks to the leadership of onkulis Andrejs. Anna and I had doubts whether they would make it back up of their own steam, but they did, the story of all they had seen overflowing from their lips even before they reached our vantage point. We crossed the expanse of rock to the stream where we let the boys explore for a few more minutes before continuing the route down the mountain; we still had several things to cross off of our to-do list before we could head home.

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