“A rail-to-trail conversion through the lakes of Eastern South Carolina.”
— Christopher Rorden
Lots of history - railroad towns, plantations, revolutionary war cemetery, railroad trestles, hard wood forests.
October 2017: Currently, there is a lawsuit between property owners near Willington and Savannah Valley Railroad Trail Inc., detour around this property. Once you come to Moss Road, make a left on Moss Road and continue to the first crossover road. Then you can pick up the trail again on your way to Willington.
This gentle trail travels along a historic railway line. The McCormick trailhead is in excellent shape, and has benefited from a recent Eagle Scout project that provides good signage and leaflet maps you can take with you. The maps also include information of the historic sites along the trail.
Being a former railway line, the climbs, descents, and turns are fairly gradual. While many rail-to-trails are still covered with golf-ball sized rocks (track ballast), this trail is dirt. The softer tread provides a smoother ride. This trail has great drainage, and dries quickly after rains (perhaps there is track ballast under the dirt).
While the entire trail is easy to ride, the first mile from McCormick does have a lot of large tree roots in the trail. This section is a bit easier on a proper mountain bike, and a bit rough on a rigid gravel bike with relatively thin tires. The trail has several benches and picnic tables along the way if you want to take in the scenery or enjoy a break.
About two miles from the McCormick Trailhead, you reach the foundations of the Civil-War era Badwell Plantation and the Pettigru Springhouse. The informative map describes that Pettigrew served as the State's Attorney General and opposed secession. You'll then travel for a couple miles on the paved Huguenot Parkway which crosses the Strom Thurmond Reservoir. This is a busy road, so watch out for traffic.
The dirt trail then resumes and you cross the elegant Mill Creek Trestle. As the trail crosses Moss Road, you can take a short detour to your left on Guillebeau Cemetery Road to see a revolutionary war burial site. The final 1.4 miles of the trail entering Willington are less well-maintained, with many fallen branches. While suitable for hiking, bikers may prefer to ride along the parallel Moss Avenue.