Harbison State Park

New Midlands-area trail section provides fun, protects environment

jholleman@thestate.comApril 26, 2013 

Nearly a mile of new trail now open at Harbison State Park is designed to be more environmentally sensitive in an area near the Broad River.

The $12,000 project rerouted a portion of the Midlands Mountain Trail on a bluff near the river in the 2,137-acre forest. It was built using methods to reduce soil runoff on trails popular with mountain bikers and trail runners.

Rain runoff and heavy use had severely eroded the old section. The Friends of Harbison State Forest group is constantly making minor repairs and reroutes to reduce trail erosion, but this was a more extensive project covering 5,000 feet of trail.

“It’s professionally constructed, sustainable and it’ll be there for a long time,” said Sam Davis, a member of the friends group.

The group administered the project, which was funded with a $10,000 grant from the Richland County Conservation Commission and a $2,000 donation from Half-Moon Outfitters. Benchmark Trails of Greenville built the section.

The new section has been open off-and-on for a couple of months. A ribbon-cutting Thursday night marked the official opening.

Harbison regulars already are getting used to the new section. Newcomers to the forest’s trails might not even notice that the section is new. It blends in well with the rest of the trail system and doesn’t have a new feel.

The forest, with an entrance at 5500 Broad River Road, has nearly 25 miles of hiking and biking trails. The park’s gravel roads have little vehicle traffic and offer an alternative for those who like to bike but are overwhelmed by skinny trails on steep hills.

Also this week, the main road in the forest was christened Ferguson Way to honor Ron Ferguson, the first director of the state forest who died last year.

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