Project Discovery Palmetto Trail: Increasing Physical Activity Through Outdoor Family Connection

Wholespire Richland County was awarded funds to support a local project from the Wholespire Healthy Eating and Active Living Mini-Grant. The chapter decided to focus on rural communities in Richland County. In partnership with Palmetto Conservation, it was our goal to help revitalize and bring awareness to the community members in Eastover about the Wateree Passage of the Palmetto Trail. TQ Davis, Prisma Health (past chair) worked closely with Robin Cooper, DHEC (current chair) to implement and lead the project. 

The Project Discover Palmetto Trail (PDPT) project objective is to encourage families to use local trails and to increase access and utilization of The Wateree Passage of the Palmetto Trail. This project aimed to increase physical activity through an outdoor family connection. PDPT engaged families in the lower Richland area through a collaborative effort to increase usage and awareness of local trails. We offered this project to provide families, community members, and leaders in lower Richland County the opportunity to experience The Wateree Passage of the Palmetto Trail. This initiative aimed to drive families living in the lower Richland area to local trails to increase access, awareness, and utilization for expanded family physical activity.

“We thought it was important to work closely with Palmetto Conservation and tag-team onto their current revitalization project. Our funds were used to provide wayfinding signage to go along the beautiful trail of Wateree Passage.“- Dr. TQ Davis, past chair of Wholespire Richland County.

In October 2021, Wholespire Richland County and Palmetto Conservation hosted a community day at the trail. In attendance were Phillip Gunter, Mayor of Eastover, and his son.  At this event, we offered free health screenings, fresh fruits and vegetables, and a guided tour that highlighted the trail’s Revolutionary War roots. The passage is one of the most diverse sections of the Palmetto Trail. It consists of traversing various landscapes, from a magnificent river swamp to the edge of the high climbs Molly’s Bluff (elevation 260 feet), one of the higher elevations in Sumter County. The bluff offers excellent vistas across the Wateree Swamp to Richland County. The new trailhead includes a bicycle repair station for cyclists who need to fix a flat, pump up a tire or do several other small repair jobs while traveling.

Mary Roe, Executive Director of the Palmetto Conservation Foundation, was extremely open and eager to allow us to participate in the revitalization project. In addition to our funding, Palmetto Conservation received funds to establish a new parking area/trailhead where SC 601 meets Old Bluff Road near Eastover. The new parking lot makes it accessible and safer for community members. The Wateree Passage begins in Poinsett State Park and continues through a section of Manchester State Forest, traveling along the remnants of the old SC Railroad through Sumter Junction. It continues until it crosses over the Wateree River and the SCE&G property to Hwy 601. The bluff offers excellent vistas across the Wateree Swamp to Richland County.

“I was excited to be a part of a project which connects rural residents to nature encouraging physical activity and taking a holistic approach to health”- Robin Cooper, Wholespire Richland County chair

Learn more about the Wateree Passage of the Palmetto Trail. Visit today!

Watch news coverage of our project on WOLO-ABC Columbia!