“Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience.”
― Ralph Waldo Emerson
Tucked away in the Piedmont of South Carolina is a large granite outcropping known as the Forty Acre Rock. Although named Forty Acre Rock, this large block of granite rock is truly only about fourteen acres in size, which is still big.
Home to many rare plant species and an extremely fragile ecosystem, this unique and beautiful preserve is a best kept secret, and rightly so. Sensitive ecosystems need to be tended to carefully and less people means less intrusion and possible damage. Judging by the amount of graffiti and broken glass, that’s a challenge for the Park Rangers.
The surface of the rock is covered in depressions varying in size from small (one to two feet around) to large (about the size of a swimming pool but shallow). Some depressions hold soil and water, providing habitat for rare plants such as the reddish Elf Orpine. Other depressions hold only water for several weeks at a time, known as vernal pools. Yet some depressions hold only water for only a few days. They call these pools of water solution pools.
“I think having land and not ruining it is the most beautiful art that anybody could ever want.”
― Andy Warhol
As with many places people visit, vandalism is a huge problem. Graffiti and broken glass dot the landscape of the rock. While the park is only open during daylight hours, people frequently visit after the park closes as they did on the day I visited.
By the time I made it to the rock it was late in the afternoon, about an hour before sunset. While the rock was heavily shaded, it was still light enough to see the vernal pools and various plant life.
The site is supposed to be great for birding, but I didn’t see anything unusual flitting around while I was there. That didn’t deter me from exploring.
Just below the rock is a small creek. Lining the small creek bed were dozens and dozens of Trout Lilies, a tiny golden yellow lily with a broad, speckled leaf. Although it has been warm, spring is not quite sprung, so most of the landscape was brown with winter.
The path I took around the rock was about a mile or so. It was a beautiful, meandering path along the creek until you ascend the hill back towards the rock. Since it was late in the day, the only other people I encountered were heading towards the rock as I was leaving around dusk. I imagine on warmer days this place is quite busy.
If you are looking for an easy hike to someplace unusual, Forty Acre Rock may be what you’re seeking. Just remember to tread lightly! The plants and animals will thank you.
Forty Arce Rock Heritage Preserve, 2207 Conservancy Road, Kershaw, SC 29067.