Buncombe Horse Trail, Newberry County, South Carolina

Today we hiked on the Buncombe Horse Trail at the suggestion of our friend Alan.  We had reports that the Palmetto Trail in that section was not in the best of shape as we originally had planned to do the part closer to I-26. Starting off on what I thought was the correct road (it turned out to be FS358) we passed a trailhead on our left, continued on past the Brickhouse campground, and ended up at a dead end. The Brickhouse campground is actually very nice, costs $5 a night, has outhouses, and running water.

Pulling my map out, I realized we were on the wrong road so we decided to bushwhack through the woods to the Buncombe Horse Trail.  Believe it or not, we did make it to the trail after crossing Headleys Creek and continued on through a forest of pine.  We came up on another creek crossing on Headleys Creek which was marked off by pink tape.  A sign was taped to a tree advising horse riders (and hikers) that the area ahead was closed due to a prescribed burn.

Not wanting to chance getting caught in a fire, we spotted a trail that turned back away from the river and up a hill so we decided to take it. We had a map so we were not worried about getting lost.  The five of us just continued on what we later figured out was part of the Bumcombe Horse Trail system and came to a place in the trail with a T.  One way took you on the blue/yellow section and the other one purple/yellow.  We opted for blue/yellow to head back towards the Brickhouse and started off.

It was a beautiful day and the birds were singing sporadically around us.  At one point, we stopped for lunch on a fallen tree off the trail.  A father and daughter riding horses came along and we had a nice conversation talking about the twenty miles of trail over at Woods Ferry in the Sumter Forest which we decided we need to check out some day.  Lunch ended and we continued on, the trail gently undulating through the woods.

Occasionally a tree frog would make a sound in the woods and we would stop to listen knowing that spring was coming soon.  We spotted a tree with little red shoots coming out but these were the only spots of bright color among the browns and evergreens. Finally, we found ourselves behind the campground where we decided to take a little break at a concrete picnic table.

Moving on we came to FS358 again and crossed on the Buncombe Horse Trail and hiked on to FS356. Thinking there was a small pond to the left, we made a turn.  We did not find the pond but we did find the remnants of an old stone building dug very deeply into the ground.  Several of us sifted through the woods looking for artifacts.  The garbage pile was quite near this building. Old burned cans, broken glass, and some intact bottles were piled here. Approximately 25 feet away we found an old iron bed propped against a tree.  Moving closer towards the road, in the brush, we found the remnants of what appeared to be a substantial home which had two chimneys.  Bricks were scattered in the brush and foundation was laying scattered about.  Miss K was looking for clues while I was keeping an eye out for snakes! None seen but can’t hurt to be careful.  It was about 73 today.

We decided to continue up the road and do a loop back to the parking lot.  This took us by what they call the Brickhouse right off highway 66.  This is private property so it is probably not a good idea to wander around but we couldn’t resist the call of this old house. This house was built in the early 1800s by a doctor and passed through several hands. It is believed that Jefferson Davis stopped to water his horse there in April of 1865.  It may have once been used as a stagecoach stop and it was once a working plantation before the Civil War.

The group headed back down the road across from the Brickhouse to the parking lot and off to a nice early dinner at O’Charleys!


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