Croft State Natural Area
Guide

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Introduction

Boasting two lovely lakes and over 7,000 acres of rich woodlands, Croft State Natural Area offers a sylvan escape just miles outside of Spartanburg, South Carolina. Explore deep green forests dotted with towering oaks, pines, hickories, and tuliptrees; underneath a verdant canopy, a thick understory of blushes with wildflowers in spring. Warblers, tanagers and other seasonal visitors flit between boughs and fill the woods with birdsong during the summer months.Hikers, bikers and trail riders can enjoy an extensive and well-maintained trail-network. Trail-riding is especially popular, as Croft has over 20 miles of beautiful horse trails.

Lake Johnson and Lake Craig are two watery gems set in the heart of Croft, and both offer ample opportunities for paddling and fishing. Anglers can pull bream, bass, catfish and more from these placid lakes. If fishing isn't your thing, test out your skills at the park's excellent shooting range, which offers facilities for rifle, pistol, shotgun and archery target shooting.

Croft's campground sits near the shore of Craig Lake; it sports 50 sites suitable for RVs. The park also sports 50 horse stalls for those traveling with their equine companions. Croft, with its beautiful trail network and accessible location, is one of South Carolina's most popular parks, so visitors would be wise to take advantage of the park's reservation system, which allows spots to be reserved up to 13 months in advance.

RV Rentals in Croft State Natural Area

Transportation in Croft State Natural Area

Driving

Croft is located only about ten miles from bustling Spartanburg, South Carolina, through which two interstates (I-85 and I-26) pass. The park is very accessible, and there are several different routes you could take to get there, depending on where you're coming from. Most travelers, though, will likely find their way onto SC-56 or SC-295, which each in turn offer access to the park via short spur roads. Park Road leads to the campground, the Craig Lake access point, as well as many trailheads, while Johnson Lake road (surprisingly) leads to Johnson Lake. Drivers should find few challenges, as access roads are paved, flat and free of sharp turns.

Parking

Croft's campground is located near the end of Croft State Park Rd. Most spots are back-in, while a few of the larger ones are pull-through. There's a fair amount of space between sites, and drivers shouldn't have much trouble parking, even in larger rigs. For those traveling with horses, a very spacious horse trailer parking area near the stalls makes loading and unloading a breeze. Additional parking is also available at the park's other day use areas and trailheads.

Public Transport

Campgrounds and parking in Croft State Natural Area

Campsites in Croft State Natural Area

Reservations camping

Croft Campground

Two loops comprise the campground at Croft, which offers spacious, shaded spots set underneath towering pines. The campground sports 50 sites in total, all with electric hookups available. Water and sewer hookups are not available, however, a dump station is located in between the two loops. There are potable water spigots available too.

Both loops have modern restrooms with showers, and several sheltered picnic areas and a playground can be found right nearby. Those bringing horses can stable them at the stalls located just a few hundred feet to the south of the campground loops - there's a dedicated horse-trailer parking area there too.

The park's boat-house, and one of its boat launches, can be found just to the east of Loop 2, which itself sits almost right on the shore of Lake Craig.

All of the RV-sites at Croft are reservable, and the reservation window lasts 13-months. Because Croft is a very popular park, especially with riders, peak-season reservations often need to be made well in advance.

First-come first-served

Alternate camping

Seasonal activities in Croft State Natural Area

In-Season

Trail Riding

Trail riding is undoubtedly the most popular activity at Croft; this is in no small part due to the excellent equestrian facilities and trails at the park. Croft sports over 50 well-kept horse stalls, as well as a practice ring and a show ring, where equestrian events are sometimes held. Twenty miles of horse-friendly trails weave across the park's landscape, crossing gentle streams, climbing densely forested hillsides and passing by some of the area's huge and venerable oak and beech trees.

Fishing

Anglers will find wonderful fishing spots in Lake Craig and Lake Johnson, which sit at 150 and 40 acres, respectively. The calm waters team with fish, and tree-lined lined shores provide a tranquil setting for casting. You can also utilize one of the park's fishing piers, or you can head out onto the water itself. Bass, catfish, bream and crappie can all be pulled from the park's waters. Just make sure you have a valid South Carolina fishing license before casting.

Paddling

When the cicadas are whining and temperature is heading into sweltering territory, lake water can have an almost magnetic pull. At Croft, paddlers can explore the placid and inviting waters of Lake Craig and Lake Johnson. Observe turtles basking on logs, watch for egrets and herons soaring overhead, or find that perfect spot on the water for casting a line. The park sports a boat-house and two convenient boat launches, and a concessionaire rents out kayaks and canoes for daily use - so there's no excuse not to head out onto the lake!

Off-Season

Birding

Hundreds of bird species are drawn to the rich forests and waters at Croft. The park contains some of the highest quality upland and cove forests remaining in the Piedmont region. Permanent avian residents include barred owls, Cooper's hawks, American woodcock and red-headed woodpeckers, while seasonal visitors include scarlet tanagers, summer tanagers, yellow-throated warblers, American redstarts and black-and-white warblers. Herons, egrets, eagles and many waterfowl species can be found in and around the park's two lakes.

Hiking and Biking

Though trail riding is one of Croft's most popular activities, hikers and bikers can also enjoy many miles of the park's sylvan trails. In the southern portion of Croft, bikers will find a spectacular, 16-mile network of bike-friendly trails zig-zagging under the tall, verdant crowns of oaks, hickories and tuliptrees. Hikers can walk these trails or head to the hikers-only Nature Trail, which passes through mixed pine-hardwood forests, heads towards the banks of Fairforest Creek and also passes by a couple of Croft's historical sites.

Shooting Range

Marksmen and markswomen will find something to do at Croft, too. A South Carolina DNR skeet and target range is located just outside Croft's gates. The facility includes a 100-yard rifle range, a 200-yard rifle range, a 25-yard pistol range and a couple archery positions as well. Visitors can sharpen their shots in the great outdoors, at a tree-lined range, under a warm South Carolina sun. The range is open from Tuesdays through Saturdays, and visitors must provide all of their own equipment.

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