Fall Adventures at Thurmond Lake

To the die-hard hunter, fall is the prime time to gear up for all kinds of game management activities. Avid fishermen know everyday can bring fishing fun. But for the non-hunter and non-fisherman who still may want to get outside and enjoy nature, there are plenty of excellent adventures to keep the mind and body busy. Here’s a few excellent recreation opportunities to consider this autumn at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers J. Strom Thurmond Lake:

Horseback Riding at Bussey Point: Those folks with equine friends usually enjoy a good trail ride. The Bussey Point Wildlife Management Area is a 2,545 acre peninsula at the confluence of the Savannah River and Little River. The Bussey Point Horse Trail has 12.4 miles of well-marked trails that circle the peninsula. Riders should avoid the area during scheduled game harvests on October 11 – 12, and on November 15-16. For more information on trails at Thurmond Lake, visit this website.

Bussey Point Trail

Hike/bike the Bartram Trail: This high-quality hike and bike trail system has over 27 miles of trail named after William Bartram. He was America’s first native-born naturalist/artist and the first author in the modern genre of writers who portrayed nature through personal experience as well as scientific observation. His travels from Augusta, beginning in May 1775, took him north to Fort James on the Petersburg Road paralleling the Savannah River, but about three or four miles away from its banks. On this adventure, Bartram passed through Columbia and Lincoln Counties in areas now covered, at least in part, by J. Strom Thurmond Lake. The trail has a meandering path from West Dam Recreation Area to Petersburg Campground that is suitable for the novice mountain biker. More technical or experienced mountain bikers may enjoy the challenge of the trail section between Petersburg Campground and Wildwood Park. People using the trail should wear hunter safety orange clothing during period of September to January. For more information on trails at Thurmond Lake, visit this website.

Bartram Trail Map

Paddle the Blueway: If canoeing, kayaking, or stand-up paddling is your passion, the Little River Blueway offers 51 miles of diverse and scenic paddling trails. Upper sections of the paddling routes are completely buffered by National Forest land. Protected from development, this allows you be completely enfolded by the forest and wildlife. Lower sections along the Little River and open water sections on Lake Thurmond are buffered by USACE lands, offering numerous coves to explore and waterfront camping at USACE parks. For more information, visit http://www.littleriverblueway.org/

Scuba Dive the Lake: Let us start with a basic fact…the water deeper than 20 feet down in Thurmond Lake is cold even in the summer. With the use of a proper wetsuit, scuba diving in Thurmond Lake is great with good visibility, excellent spear fishing, and interesting submerged things to see. There is even a sunken airplane near Thurmond Dam. Divers should always dive with a buddy and display a Diver Down flag.

Go Geocaching: For those folks who would be intrigued by a high-tech treasure hunt, try the modern game of Geocaching. It is a real-world, outdoor treasure hunting game using GPS-enabled devices. Participants navigate to a specific set of GPS coordinates and then attempt to find the geocache (container) hidden at that location. The only necessities are a GPS device or a GPS-enabled mobile phone so that you can navigate to the cache, and a Geocaching.com Membership. Geocaches can be found around the lake and all over the world. It is common for geocachers to hide caches in locations that are important to them, reflecting a special interest or skill of the cache owner. These locations can be quite diverse. They may be in parks, at the end of a long hike, underwater or on the side of a roadway. For more information, visit http://www.Geocaching.com 

Play Golf: There are many traditional golf courses in the Augusta area, but there are three great courses located in McCormick County on the shores of Thurmond Lake. Golf enthusiasts might try these challenging courses:
Hickory Knob Golf Course http://www.southcarolinaparks.com/hickoryknob/hickoryknob-golf.aspx 
Monticello Subdivision Golf Course http://www.playthelake.com/
Tara Subdivision Golf Course http://www.playthelake.com/

Play Disc Golf: Thurmond Lake is fortunate to have Wildwood Park in Columbia County with its three championship disc golf courses. Disc golf is played much like traditional golf, but instead of a ball and clubs, players use a flying disc. The sport was formalized in the 1970’s, and shares with “ball golf” the object of completing each hole in the fewest number of strokes (or in the case of disc golf, fewest number of throws.) A golf disc is thrown from a tee area to a target which is the “hole.” Wildwood Park also boasts the world’s premiere destination for disc golf, the Professional Disc Golf Association International Disc Golf Center. This center is the mecca for the sport of disc golf. It features a modern clubhouse with 2,700 sq feet of amenities and attractions that will make your visit unique. This center also has a state-of-the-art training facility complete with putting greens. For more information go online to http://www.pdga.com/IDGC 


Go Camping: At Thurmond Lake, one of our most popular outdoor recreation activities is camping. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers manages 13 campgrounds at Thurmond Lake with a total of 575 campsites. Many of these campgrounds feature amenities such as restrooms, showers, boat ramps, sanitary disposal stations, playgrounds, electric and water hook-ups, courtesy docks, group camping, and designated swimming areas.

Eleven of the campgrounds feature park attendants who register incoming campers, provide information, and ensure the campground is operated to provide the safest, most enjoyable experience for all visitors. One Corps-managed group camp is available at Thurmond Lake – Big Hart. Group camps allow clubs, families, and friends to camp together in a common area for a reasonable fee. For more information about Thurmond Lake camping, visit this website.

By David Quebedeaux, Park Ranger

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