H. Cooper Black Jr. Memorial Field Trial and Recreation Area, also known as H. Cooper Black State Park, is a massive 7,000 acres of fields and forests in the northeast corner of South Carolina. Just two hours northwest of Columbia and 1.5 hours southwest of Charlotte, North Carolina, you can find this gem right outside of Cheraw. The park is right next to Cheraw State Park, which offers boating, camping, fishing, a golf course and more.
This park is tailored to horse lovers as it has equestrian camping, more than 20 miles of equestrian trails, stables and stalls, as well as an equestrian show ring for events held at the park. And if that isn’t enough, the H. Cooper Black State Park caters to RV campers and dog lovers as well with thousands of acres of fields and forests for dog training as well as field trial and retriever competitions.
The park was named for H. Cooper Black, when he passed away in 1993. Dr. Black was an assistant professor of surgery at the University of South Carolina Medical School and a former chief of staff, chief of surgery, and member of the board of trustees at Lexington Medical Center. In addition, he was the chairman of the South Carolina Sporting Dog Commission.
H. Cooper Black State Park is located on James Road, which is just a few miles south of Cheraw and right next to Cheraw State Park. To get to the park, you can take SC 401 from the south or SC 52 from the north. If you are coming from the west, you can take Interstate 20 and if you are coming from the east, take Interstate 95.
No matter which direction you are coming from, the park is easy to find because of the plethora of signage advertising the place. When you get close to the park, the roads get a bit narrower and if you are driving a large RV or pulling a trailer, you will need to take it slow and careful. You should also watch for wildlife that tend to wander into the road such as rabbits, squirrels, and whitetail deer.
Inside the park, the roads are well-manicured and cared for so you will have no trouble getting around no matter how big your camper or RV. The park is tailored to the needs of equestrians, so the roads are easy to maneuver for big rigs and horse trailers the most part. The parking lots are spacious so you will have no problem finding a spot for your rig and trailer, if needed.
For those who like to be close to the amenities, the Barn Loop Campground is next to the club house and bath house. This includes 11 sites numbered one through 11, with campsite 11 being an ADA-accessible campsite. If you brought your horse, horse corrals one through 24 surround the campground. Each site has water, electricity, picnic tables, and a BBQ pit. The pad lengths range from 29 to 67 feet so you should be able to fit your rig no matter how long it is. If you like fishing, Goose Pond and Mallard Pond are within walking distance and there are streams and creeks where your horse can get a drink or just cool off. Dogs must be controlled by voice command or kept on a leash or in a kennel while in a camping area or within a quarter-mile of either camping area.
If you want to be close to the action, the Arena Loop Campground is right next to the arena. This is especially nice if you are involved in an event being held there. This campground has 16 campsites numbered 12 through 27 with electric and water hookups. There is a bath house next to the arena with hot showers and you are also close to the RV sanitation site. Each site has a fire pit, picnic table, and pads that range from 33 to 91 feet long. You will have no trouble fitting your RV and trailer in these spacious sites. The horse stalls numbered 25 through 60 surround the campground so you can be close to your horse if you brought one. Dogs must be controlled by voice command or kept on a leash or in a kennel while in a camping area or within a quarter mile of either camping area.
Don’t forget to pack your fishing gear in the camper because there are several different ponds where you can try your luck. You can try using a lure or jig for large or smallmouth bass or add a bobber and worm for crappie, sunfish, and bluegill. If you would rather try for any of the three types of catfish or other bottom feeders, add a weight and some live or cut bait. Be sure to check with the park before coming to make sure there is not an event going on.
While you’re at the park, take advantage of some of the 20-plus miles of trails. Get out of the RV and head into the woods so you can witness some of the beauty of the Sand Hills State Forest. You can see some vibrantly-colored wildflowers, prairie grasses, and mature oak and pines that provide tons of shade. Make sure you have your camera so you can get some selfies to share on Facebook. You can also get some pics of the critters in these woods like the deer, squirrels, rabbits, and many species of birds.
Gather the gang into the camper and head to H. Cooper Black State Park for a picnic. You can choose any of the numerous picnic areas or you can use the large picnic shelter by Wood Duck Pond. Restrooms, playgrounds, tables, water access, and BBQ pits adorn the area and you can fish in the Wood Duck Pond while you wait for the BBQ to get done. Or take a hike and you can visit the Mallard or Goose Pond, where you can also fish.
This park is fond of horses and it shows. All of the campsites are horse-friendly and there are 67 individual corrals as well as 24 stalls and an arena. The 20 miles of trails are all equestrian-friendly and most have sand roads, which is excellent for gaiting. Bring along a lunch and some water and make a day out of it but don’t forget the camera. There are watering holes provided along the trails for your horse, so you don’t have to worry about them.
If you want to cater to your other four-footed friend, there are two fields dedicated to retriever training and events. For water training, you can choose from any of the three: wood duck, mallard, and goose ponds. Whether you want to train your dogs to hunt with you in the fields or retrieve the birds you hunt from the water, there are provisions here for all training areas. You can also take part in the AKC Master National Retriever Trials in October or just come out and watch.
Make sure you have your hunting gear and camo in the RV before coming to the park. And make sure you have that hunting license and any tags you need. You can hunt turkey in April and November and deer from October through December. Other small game can also be hunted but quail hunting is not permitted at any time. Check with the park before coming because hunting of any kind is prohibited when events are being held.