2021 saw a rise of adventurers to Kids in Parks trails, especially to our newest TRACK Trails in South Carolina. We also introduced several new experiences through e-Adventures to help people TRACK new adventures wherever they explored. Many first-time visitors utilized our materials at partnering parks and sites. Even better, many visitors (81% of our registrants), old or new, said they would return to these parks/sites for more adventures in the future!
Listed below are our Top 10 Most Visited TRACK Trail sites for 2021. These parks had the highest numbers of Kid in Parks registrations for last year, with each park offering unique experiences across vastly different regions in the eastern United States. The descriptions share what makes each park well worth a visit!
Battle of Musgrove Mill State Historic Site — Clinton, S.C.
The Battle of Musgrove Mill State Historic Site preserves the site of the August 19, 1780 American Revolutionary War battle of Musgrove Mill. This battle between outnumbered Patriots against British Loyalists ended in a victory for the Patriots. This victory boosted the morale of South Carolina Patriots and dispelled the British force's belief that they had crushed all resistance. The battle and the history of the Revolutionary War in the South Carolina Backcountry are detailed through signage in the Visitor Center and along the 1-mile British Camp Trail and a 1.5-mile Battlefield trail. The TRACK Trail brochures featured here allow TRACKers to join either the Loyalist or Patriot forces.
Alongside its history, the TRACK Trail at Musgrove Mill offers visitors excellent birding opportunities, as well as views of other wildlife. The trail meanders along the Enoree River and past Horseshoe Falls before ascending through a forest of large trees and a pond.
Admission for the Battle of Musgrove Mill State Historic Site is: $3 per adult (16 years and older); $1.50 for
seniors (65 and older); $1.00 for children (ages 6-15); and free for children under 5 years old.
Click for more information on the Battle of Musgrove Mill State Historic SIte
Sesquicentennial State Park — Columbia, S.C.
Founded in celebration of the City of Columbia's 150th anniversary, Sesquicentennial State Park, affectionately known as "Sesqui" (ses-kwee), is a state park in the Sandhills region of South Carolina. It was built by the Civilian Conservation Corps during the Great Depression and given to the City of Columbia. Sesqui offers a spacious green getaway in the heart of Columbia, SC. The park's 1,400 acres provide miles of hiking trails, bike trails, picnic shelters, camping, fishing, canoeing, and more.
The TRACK Trail at Sesqui begins near the lake's edge, near the Visitor Center, and traverses 2.2 miles around the pond. Visitors can use the brochures to learn about trees, birds, or ferns and find things hiding in the woods.
Sesquicentennial State Park charges an admission fee of $6 for adults; $3.75 for seniors (ages 65+); and $3.50 for children ages 6-15; ages 5 and unders, free.
Click for more information on Sesquicentennial State Park
Congaree National Park — Hopkins, S.C.
Congaree National Park, South Carolina’s only national park, is a natural treasure for nearby residents and visitors alike. The park is home to the largest remaining old-growth bottomland hardwood forest in the Southeast, typical of lowland floodplains in the region until deforestation. Efforts to protect the Congaree floodplain began as early as the 1950s, and the park received its official designation as a national park in 2003. And in this flood plain, things grow big! Congaree hosts some of the tallest trees in the east, with some trees reaching as high as 17 stories, making for one of the world’s highest temperate deciduous forest canopies.
The TRACK Trail at Congaree follows a 2.4-mile loop through the floodplain forest along a boardwalk trail. But your experience doesn’t have to end there because there are more than 25 miles of hiking trails and opportunities for canoeing and kayaking, fishing, and camping. In May, Congaree is one of the few places to witness synchronous fireflies, which light up in simultaneous patterns to create a mesmerizing show.
Click for more information on Congaree National Park
Table Rock State Park — Pickens, S.C.
Table Rock State Park is named after the towering mountain that serves as the backdrop for the 3,000 acre park. Filled with the natural beauty of the Blue Ridge Mountains, the park features miles and miles of hiking trails which serve as an access point to the 76-miles Foothills Trail. Hikers can discover mountain streams, picturesque waterfalls, and history along each route. Visitors can also utilize cabins, a campground and an old-fashioned swimming hole on one of the park’s two lakes.
While the park is well known to outdoor enthusiasts for its natural features, Table Rock also has its place in history. Many of the Table Rock State Park cabins and other structures built by the Civilian Conservation Corps remain standing and are on the National Register of Historic Places.
The TRACK Trail at Table Rock State Park is located along the Carrick Creek Trail, a 2.0 mile long loop trail featuring several water features along the creek, including Carrick Creek Falls. The brochure-led adventures help visitors discover things hiding along the trail, the wonders of waterfalls, and how fire helps shape the mountain.
Click for more information on Table Rock State Park
The North Carolina Arboretum — Asheville, NC
The North Carolina Arboretum is a 434-acre public garden located within the Bent Creek Experimental Forest. Surrounded by lush folds of the botanically diverse Southern Appalachian Mountains, The North Carolina Arboretum is adjacent to the scenic Blue Ridge Parkway and is nestled in one of the most beautiful natural settings in America. Formal gardens, seasonal exhibits, a Bonsai collection, a cafe, gift shop and more are available at the Arboretum.
The North Carolina Arboretum TRACK Trail follows the Natural Garden Trail and loops through the gardens. The Natural Garden Trail is a 1-mile hike through a mixed hardwood forest and the trail through the formal gardens is 0.3 miles. All making for an easy 1.3-miles loop. You can also explore the trails using two special TRACK Trail brochures. The “Let’s Explore! ecoExplore” brochure works in tandem with the arboretums own ecoExplore program, an incentive-based citizen science program for kids. Kids can also visit the arboretums newest attraction, Willow Pond, and use the “Who’s at Willow Pond” brochure to observe and map the wildlife inhabitants of the pond.
The North Carolina Arboretum has a $16 per vehicle fee for entry. Funds are used to maintain the grounds and sustain the future of the Arboretum.
Click for more information on the North Carolina Arboretum
Limberlost Trail at Shenandoah National Park — Luray, VA
Just 75 miles from the bustle of Washington, D.C., Shenandoah National Park is a recreational escape. Throughout the park are cascading waterfalls, spectacular vistas, and quiet wooded hollows. You can take a hike, meander along Skyline Drive, or go on a picnic with the family. The park’s 200,000 acres of protected lands are a haven to deer, songbirds, and even the night sky as low light pollution allows for spectacular viewing of star-filled skies.
The Limberlost TRACK Trail is located in the Skyland section of the park. It is a 1.3-mile loop, built for visitors of all ages and abilities, that gently winds through sprawling mountain laurel, tall oaks, and feathery ferns. It’s home to all sorts of creatures, and it’s a place of many changes. Use the “Senses and Sensitivity” activity brochure to discover the signs of those changes and explore the wonders of Limberlost using your senses and imagination.
Click for more information on the Limberlost Trail at Shenandoah National Park
Pilot Mountain State Park — Pinnacle, N.C.
Another park located in the Sauratown Mountains is the iconic Pilot Mountain State Park with its centerpiece pinnacles on Pilot Mountain. Big Pinnacle, the most recognizable for its walls of bare rock and vegetation-covered dome, has served as a navigational landmark for centuries. Nowadays, it is a destination for rock climbers. Like nearby Hanging Rock State Park, this park also offers fantastic views of the North Carolina Piedmont and the nearby Blue Ridge Mountains from its Mountain Section of the park. To the south of Pilot Mountain, the park expands to the Yadkin River Section, featuring trails along the water as well as opportunities for paddlers.
The TRACK Trail at Pilot Mountain is located in the Mountain Section of the park along the Sassafras Trail. It is a moderate 0.3-mile hike to an overlook that offers scenic views.
Click for more information on Pilot Mountain State Park
Carl Sandburg Home National Historic Site — Flat Rock, N.C.
“Connemara” is the home of the late Carl Sandburg, a Pulitzer Prize-winning poet and biographer of Abraham Lincoln, whose family moved to the 245-acre farm in 1945. The peace and solitude of the farm, in its abundance of nature, was a quiet haven for Sandburg as he worked on his writing. Meanwhile, his wife, Lillian, used the many acres of land to raise her champion dairy goats.
Now you can experience the Sandburg’s little slice of heaven for yourself, via miles of hiking trails through pastures, forests, gardens, and an orchard. The Carl Sandburg Home also offers two unique Kids in Parks adventures. The “Farm, Field and Forest” activity brochure leads kids on a search-and-find adventure around Connemara, guided by Carl Sandburg’s grandchildren Paula and John Carl. The second adventure is a Citizen Science trail around Front Lake, where you visit science stations and gather data to help determine the health of the park’s environment.
Click for more information on Carl Sandburg Home National Historic Site
William B. Umstead State Park — Raleigh, N.C.
For residents and visitors of “The Triangle” region in the Piedmont of North Carolina, William B. Umstead State Park is nothing short of an oasis amid the hustle-and-bustle of the surrounding city. This 5,579-acre park is a wilderness haven that plays host to a variety of outdoor recreational activities, including hiking, fishing, and camping. There are even trails for horseback riding and mountain biking.
William B. Umstead’s TRACK Trail is located along the 0.6-mile Oak Rock Trail, which is aptly named as the trail features a large oak tree that has grown out of an outcropping of rock. Also along the trail, you will find interpretive panels describing the trees found in the park. Here you can complete the Kids in Parks “Need for Trees” activity brochure: a take-along guide that will also describe some of the trees that inhabit the park and why those trees are important.
Click for more information on William B. Umstead State Park
Peak to Prosperity - Palmetto Trail — Peak, S.C.
Starting in the extinct town of Alston, the Peak to Prosperity Passage proceeds west from Fairfield County along an original railroad foundation and across the Broad River trestle. The first of two trestles, which were bridges for trains, provides great views of the river and is a great place to watch for wildlife like birds, turtles, and otters. The trail then leads into Newberry County, past the town of Peak, and through a peaceful forest before reaching the second trestle. Here, visitors will cross Crim's Creek, and at the end of the trestle you will have hiked 1-mile.
Palmetto Conservation purchased the 11-mile, 200-foot wide right-of-way for the passage from Norfolk Southern Railroad. The first 6.5 miles of the passage were opened in 2009 after two volunteers, Charles Weber and Furman Miller, cleared and decked eight trestles.
Click for more information on the Peak to Prosperity - Palmetto Trail