Aiken State Park is located in southwestern South Carolina and has over 1,067 acres to enjoy. From picnicking to playgrounds and swimming to sunbathing, you can find all kinds of fun things to do here. The park is a favorite for water lovers with four lakes as well as a long stretch of the South Fork of the Edisto River. All these bodies of water offer plenty of fishing opportunities, so if you are an angler, bring your fishing gear.
The park was created during the Great Depression by an African American Group of the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), making it uniquely historical. All through the park, you can find signs with details about the story of these men and women who took the time to build the features, buildings, and other structures. Aiken State Park offers programs and guided tours where you can learn even more about the park and its surroundings.
If you want to camp here, you better make sure you book a spot early because there are only 25 spots, but they all have water and electric hookups, fire pits, and picnic tables. You’ll see lots of wildlife in the park as well, such as deer, foxes, coyotes, bobcats, and even skunks. You may also see a bear or wild hog roaming around.
From US-78, Aiken State Park is only a short drive, situated in the middle of SC-53 and SC-1669. The park is just an hour from Columbia, which is the capital of South Carolina, where you can visit the Riverbanks Zoo & Garden or the Columbia Museum of Art. Augusta, Georgia, is also an hour away and is a great place to learn about the American South at the Morris Museum of Art. You can also see the home where President Woodrow Wilson grew up.
If you want to check out some of the other parks or forests in the area, Barnwell State Park is just 24 miles to the south and has a huge playground and two lakes with boating, fishing, and swimming areas. Also, Ernest Rand Memorial State Forest is 19 miles to the south, which is popular for its hiking and hunting opportunities.
When you get closer to the park, you will notice that the roads are still paved and well taken care of, which is a bonus when you are driving a big RV or pulling a trailer. The streets inside the park are also well-groomed, but some of the curves may be a bit tricky. Take your time, and you should have no worries, no matter how big your rig.
Aiken State Park Campground has 25 spacious campsites with electric and water hookups. The length limits on RVs range from 20 to 55 feet in length, so make sure you check the length when you reserve your site. With only 25 campsites, you better get your reservation done way in advance if you want to stay at Aiken State Park, especially if you are planning to come on a weekend or holiday. Cooking outside is easy on the campfire grill provided. And the whole family can sit comfortably around the huge picnic table. You can also find a comfort station with restrooms and hot showers nearby. Campsites 1-3 are really close to Children’s Lake, which is one of four lakes in the park. The other campsites are within walking distance as well. Fishing is easy when you have a lake right outside your door or tent. It’s also nice to fall asleep and wake up to the sounds of nature that live in and around the lake. The trailhead of the Jungle Nature Trail starts right near the middle of the campground and leads you to the playground. Your pup is welcome to join you at camp, but make sure you keep it restrained at all times.
Take a float trip down the South Fork Edisto River. It may not be white-knuckled whitewater rafting, but the current can be pretty awesome along this stretch of river. Aiken State Park actually has a dock where you are supposed to put in your canoe or raft, and another dock downriver by Cabin Lake where you are supposed to take your boat out. However, some people make it a longer trip by putting in further up or getting out further down. No matter where you float, make sure everyone has a life jacket and always be prepared with a first aid kit and plenty of drinking water.
Pack the water toys and floaties in the motorhome before heading to Aiken State Park because this park has a fantastic swimming area to enjoy. Grab the sunscreen and towels too, along with a picnic lunch and cooler full of soft drinks. The beach has picnic tables and shaded areas where you can relax and get out of the sun while you eat. Then you can get back out to the water and work off that food you just ate. The beach is open from Memorial Day weekend until Labor Day weekend, and there is no lifeguard on duty, so be aware that you will be swimming at your own risk.
The South Fork of the Edisto River is a fantastic place to enjoy a river trail. The 1.7-mile South Fork Edisto River Trail lets you experience both the water and the land as you meander along the banks of swamps and woods. The trail is relatively straightforward, but it is recommended that you have someone along who has experience in paddling. Anglers should bring their fishing gear because there are hungry fish in these waters. If you didn’t bring a boat, don’t worry, Aiken State Park will rent you one.
Have you ever wanted to find a buried treasure? Grab your phone or other GPS device and put in the coordinates you find on the geocaching website, and you can find a buried treasure right inside of the park. There are over a dozen geocaches hidden in and around the park. Some are just a few feet from the parking lot, some in the campground, and others are located along the hiking trail. One of them is placed along the edge of the Jungle Nature Trail by an old pin oak. Be sure to sign the logbook and put the geocache back exactly where you found it so the next treasure hunter will have the same fun that you had.
It is hard to pass up a hiking trail when the area is as welcoming and peaceful as the Jungle Nature Trail. This three-mile dirt and boardwalk loop trail leads you into a wetland that looks tropical as you head into the pines and ferns that live there. You will likely see lots of birds, squirrels, and other critters on your walk, and the dragonflies tend to live around the rhododendron bushes scattered about. Bring your camera so you can get some shots of the Artesian well near the dock by the Edisto River and even more wildlife that live in and near the fishing pond. The Old Tory Trail is a 2.3-mile path from the Main Pond to Cabin Lake and is very enjoyable as well.
You have a choice of four different lakes as well as the entire South Fork of the Edisto River if you want to fish. The main fishing lake is in the northwest section of the park by Fishlake Shelter, and just off the Jungle Nature Trail. Cabin Lake is in the northeastern corner by the fee station. The Children’s Pond by the campground is the smallest lake (pond) but has plenty of hungry fish. And the Main Pond is next to the park office near the picnic shelters and playground. Whether you are fly fishing or hitting bottom, you can find the perfect spot at Aiken State Park.