Chester State Park

A Quiet Sabbath

Chester State Park is in beautiful Piedmont South Carolina, and according to the park’s literature, “just a few miles off Interstate 77, centrally located between Columbia and Charlotte”. Chester is one of the 16 Civilian Conservation Corps parks and sits on 523 acres with a 160 acre lake in the middle (SC State Parks). There’s a small campground with 25 spots. When we camped this weekend, we were the only folks in tents.

There’s fishing but no swimming at the park, and because it’s small–reduced ranger hours. The store is only open from 11 to noon and 4 to 5 p.m., and there’s no ice at the park store. Fear not, however, just five minutes down the road on the way to Chester there’s a gas station with firewood and ice. Chester is a quaint little town too, and it’s less than ten minutes from the park.

Rumor has it you can catch sunfish and bass, but I only saw folks gently kayaking while I was there. The hiking is lovely and not too strenuous if you stay on the trails. Much of the trail follows along the lake, and is quite lovely and easy to traverse. Looks like there’s an unofficial trail going around the lake that may have been a bit tougher, but we didn’t have time to finish it. Oh, and there’s a playground too and a lovely bridge and at least two fishing piers.

Chester State Park

All photographs by Rev. Darlene Kelley-Walters

Local Treasure: Aiken State Park


Shhhh!  Let’s keep this between us….


Delighted to discover that the Aiken State Park is a lovely, thirty-five minute drive from the new parsonage, which makes it our local state park, and that makes a Methodist and her two dogs very happy.

Ben and Jack are happy there is water.  There’s the Edisto River to canoe (and canoes to rent right in the park) and a fishing pond to catch lilies and catfish.  There’s even a main pond with a partitioned swimming area.  Dogs aren’t allowed there, but it looks good for humans.  They’ve added a bit of sand to the swimming area to make the bottom of the pond more hospitable and far less squishy between the toes.  Looks like they participate in the Tackle Loaner Program too, so if you don’t have a fishing pole–you can borrow one from the rangers.

Like many of the state parks in South Carolina, Aiken State Park was a Civilian Conservation Corp project.  Three artesian well fountains and several buildings throughout the park reflect the workmanship of the CCC.

There are lots of pavilions and shelters, and a small campground that looked like it was doing a brisk business.  I didn’t drive through; I hate gawkers when I’m camping.  The park map lists a “Primitive Group Camp” and a “Rustic Tent Site”, as well.

We didn’t hike, but we did notice two trailheads: Jungle Nature Trail and Old Tory Trail.  Considering the size and terrain of the park, the trails loop and remain fairly level for walking.  The park map describes Jungle Nature Trail as “a three mile loop through bottomland hardwood and Sandhill pine forests while exploring wetlands, plus plenty of wildlife to observe along the way.”   I will keep you posted after a hike!

The park was quiet on the day I visited, and it was a holiday weekend.



Photographs by Darlene Kelley-Walters