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The Savannah River Valley, once home to cotton fields and farms, is now one of the state’s best backpacking opportunities. The 22.9-mile Long Cane Loop weaves through piney ridges and hardwood bottomlands, passing huge trees, beard cane, and wildflowers along the way. From the trailhead, descend into bottomlands heavy with tulip trees, laurel oaks, and ferns. The trail enters the Long Cane Creek Scenic Area, where creekside campsites abound, and passes South Carolina’s champion shagbark hickory (the world’s second-largest at 11 feet in circumference) at just past 3.5 miles. Hike on through pine woods and along roller-coaster ridgelines to a steep, rocky valley with streamside camping—in spots, you’ll trace the Old Charleston Road, the historic route from the city to the Upcountry. Continue through mixed woods, scouting for prime campsites along the creeks and valleys before closing the loop.
Info: (803) 637-5396; www.fs.fed.us/r8/fms
Hike provided by Johnny Molloy, author of 50 Hikes in South Carolina (Countryman Press).
Location: 34.0980339050293, -82.3575897216797