They've packed a lot of fun in Aiken's Boyd Pond Park. The 373-acre facility features four ball fields, two soccer fields, a basketball court, an 18-hole disc golf course, a sand volleyball court, six miles of mountain biking trails, a playground, six picnic shelters, a children's activity course and an observatory.
And despite all the popular recreational offerings, the park's biggest draw is its peaceful setting.
A 20-minute drive from Aiken's historic downtown, Boyd Pond is a woodland wonder where you can escape into the forest and enjoy nature. The 30-acre pond-the centerpiece of the park-is surrounded by thick stands of pine trees and hardwoods.
Visitors can venture into the woods on a two-mile nature trail that winds along the edge of the water. At the half-way point is a 300-foot boardwalk overlooking the upper reaches of the pond and wetlands that serves as habitat to fish, frogs, crawfish, turtles, birds and beavers.
A favorite birding destination, the park is visited by a wide range of winged species, including red-headed woodpeckers, great egrets, belted kingfishers, American kestrels, red-tailed hawks and wood storks.
The pond also entices anglers looking for a quiet spot to cast for bass and other freshwater fish. Under the park's cool canopy of trees, shoreline fishing is a pleasure-even if you don't reel in a catch. The park also offers a small fishing pier and ramp for non-motorized boats or those using trolling motors. Whichever way you choose to drop your line, you'll need a South Carolina fishing license.
One of the park's most interesting features is the Boyd Observatory, built in 2000 by a former College of Charleston lab astronomy teacher. The small concrete-block building, topped by a 12-foot fully rotating aluminum dome, houses a 17.5-inch Newtonian telescope. Free star-watching programs are scheduled the first and third Saturday of each month.
For those who prefer a little adventure with their outdoor getaway, the park offers a network of tight and twisty mountain biking trails with plenty of fun switchbacks and steep short climbs. Rated moderately difficult, the hilly course has an average grade of 3 percent with a maximum grade of 12 percent.
The disc golf course is more beginner friendly, but offers its own challenges. Once an executive golf course, the 18 hole-playing field utilizes a lot of the features that were built for the golf course with both open and wooded holes.
Open daily from sunrise to sunset, Boyd Pond Park is located at 340 Boyd Pond Road. For more information on the park facilities, check out the website or call 803.642.0314.