Saturday, September 02, 2017

Hiking Little Gap Trail–Dreher Island SP

At a little under three miles, this is a nice trail with several spots of interest.  One of the most notable spots is are the unmarked remains of an old homesite that probably dates back to before the time the land was donated to the state to make this park.

Hidden Cove near the Trail

Fallen treeWe started our hike from the front door of our cabin which is less than a quarter of a mile from where the trail first enters the woods.  From the edge of the woods, the trail leads to the east for about half a mile before coming to a small hidden cove.  The cove has a small sandbar that was just under the water’s surface, that leads to a small island. 

Boy scout markerAlong this area of the trail we saw a couple of posts mounted by the local scout troop.  There was no indication what they were for, but the looked like they might be part of an orienteering exercise.

Also along this part of the trail, I noticed another spot with a lot of shells by the water.  Like the other spot, it is difficult to discern if this marks the spot of an ancient shell midden, or if the shells simply wound up here because of the predominant currents when the lake rises and falls.rock stack

After leaving the area along the shore, the trail continues for about another half mile to the where it crosses under some power lines before coming to a fork that begins the balloon portion of the trail.  Taking the trail to the right leads quickly to the remains of an unmarked home site.

Unmarked house ruins - fireplace 1The video below shows the home site in more detail, but the predominant feature is a dual sided fireplace / hearth made with brick and local stones.  The hearth still has a bar mounted across the fireplace that would have probably been used to hold a cooking pot.  There as also a second bar that looks like it was mounted in the fireplace as well, but has since fallen out.

Next to the home site, someone has taken the time to make a small cairn… I’m not sure why, but we left it as is.  I suspect that the rangers will probably knock it down the next time they are out this way.Trail view 1

We explored the home site for a bit, and then continued along the balloon portion of the trail and returning to our starting point.  This is an easy trail to hike, and there are several elevation changes along the way (though nothing too big).  Prior to damming the river and making Lake Murray, it is easy to tell that this was once the top of a small mountain.

Overall, this is a fun hike that is very different from the types of trails we find in Florida. Probably the biggest difference between the two types of trails (besides elevation changes) is the forest itself.  In the tropical Florida environment, most forests have a lot of plant growth along the ground below the canopy, while on this trail, there was very little growth below the branches above. 

Unmarked Homesite (Description starts at about 1:40)

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