Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Jones Gap State Park

Jones Gap State Park is located in Marietta, SC which is in Greenville County. The park consists of 3964 acres including the headwaters of the Middle Saluda River. There are more than 30 miles of hiking trails including some waterfalls. This was once the site of South Carolina’s first fish hatchery, Cleveland Fish Hatchery, which operated from 1931 to 1962.

There was once a toll road from Caesar’s Head, SC to Cedar Mountain, NC from 1940-1847. Solomon Jones was a self-taught mountain road builder and cut a road with a hatchet while following a pig. This unpaved Jones Gap Road was the only direct route from Greenville to NC until the 1930s.

Henry Ware and his cousin E. Ervin Dargan bought 2000 acres of Jones Gap land from the Saluda Land and Lumber Company. Then in 1976, they sold and donated their land to the state for a park.

In 1973, Tommy Wyche had the idea of a Mountain Bridge Wilderness and organized the Naturaland Trust. This trust was to secure and protect mountain lands between the Table Rock and Poinsett watersheds, which included Jones Gap. The state began to buy properties with money granted from the federal Land and Water Conservation fund.

The Park officially opened in January 1989. It is a forested wilderness and ranges in elevation from 1000 to 300 feet. Many of the trees are like those that you would find in Pennsylvania or Maine. The Middle Saluda River runs through the park.

Jones Gap State Park joins with Caesar’s Head State Park to form the Mountain Bridge Wilderness Area.

I have hiked many times in this park and in all seasons. It is a beautiful park. I have even taken my high school students on a hike in this park because many of my students have never been to a state park before. They loved it!

Original photo by Pat Hensley

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