By Tracy Robillard
CLARK HILLS, S.C. — The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Savannah District's Bartram Trail, located at J. Strom Thurmond Dam and Lake, was recently designated by the Department of Interior as a national recreation trail.
The Department announced its designation of 54 trails across the country to be added to the National Trails System, a network of about 15,000 miles of trails that link communities to recreational opportunities on public lands and in local parks across the nation.
"This designation reflects great credit on the Thurmond Project as a leader in providing quality outdoor recreation to the region," said Col. Jeff Hall, commander of the Corps' Savannah District, which operates the Thurmond Project as well as two other reservoirs (Hartwell and Richard B. Russell) on the Savannah River.
Spanning 27 miles, the Bartram Trail is a multi-purpose trail used for hiking and biking. Nine miles of trail were added in 2010 with American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funding and constructed with volunteer help from the Southern Off-Road Bicycle Association. Additionally, the Corps renovated about eight miles of the trail in 2005.
"This is an outstanding accomplishment for the entire Thurmond Lake team, to include our Corps employees, the contractor TSAY-FM Joint Venture, SORBA and other volunteers who helped make the Bartram Trail what it is today," said Aaron Wahus, park operations manager.
The Bartram Trail was named for William Bartram, 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 about three or four miles away from its banks. On this trail, he passed through Columbia and Lincoln counties in areas now covered, at least in part, by Thurmond Lake.
Vehicle parking lots are located at three points along the Bartram Trail: West Dam park entrance, Petersburg Campground entrance, and approximately three tenths of a mile on the left after turning onto Lake Springs Road. To get to the Bartram Trail from Augusta, take Highway 104/Washington Road North. Turn east on US 221 and continue to Petersburg Campground, Lake Springs or West Dam.
The Bartram Trail was one of five Corps-operated trails recently added to the National Trail System. Other Corps trails added to the network are located in Carlyle, Ill., Iowa City, Iowa, Wilkesboro, N.C., and Walla Walla, Wash.
The national recreation trail program is jointly administered by the National Park Service and the USDA Forest Service in conjunction with a number of other federal and nonprofit partners, notably American Trails, which hosts the national recreation trails website.