Lynches River County Park has taken the standard nature trail and elevated it to new heights - literally. The Canopy Walk - one of its featured attractions - runs 147 feet through the forest, only from the tree tops.
The walk starts out at the backdoor of the Environmental Discovery Center and takes you over four sky bridges that connect to platforms built around trees. From these high perches you get a birds-eye view of the 676-acre park. The last platform overlooks the Lynches River.
Only two people at a time are allowed on each section of sky bridge. Be forewarned: the bridge spans shake when you walk across them - just enough to add some excitement to your trek.
The Canopy Walk is one of several great recreational amenities featured in the park, located in the Pee Dee region of the state not far from the intersection of Interstates 95 and 20. Its natural features include a river swamp, sand hills, pine forests and the namesake Lynches River. In a few days, I'll be posting a blog about paddling this state scenic river.
Along with the Canopy Walk, the park offers several short nature trails, including the one-mile Stagecoach loop. You can start this trail on the elevated Riverwalk, which runs 1,200 feet through the river floodplain. Be sure to take the spur that leads to a platform overlooking the river.
At the end of the boardwalk, you'll connect with the Stagecoach Trail. If you go right and walk about a quarter mile, it will take you back to the parking lot near the canoe launch. Instead, head left through the woodlands and continue on the loop.
Along the way are five outdoor education stations with information about soil, forestry, air, wildlife and water. You'll also find color photograph plaques identifying various plants and trees.
Keep to the right on the loop to follow a portion of the historic Stagecoach Road. The most significant means of travel in the 1700s and 1800s, it ran from Washington, D.C., to Savannah, Ga.
The park also features a playground, campground, two cabins, a splash area open in the summer and the Environmental Discovery Center - the centerpiece of the park. Designed to blend into the natural setting, it offers visitors a closer look at the wildlife that makes its home in the area.
Live exhibits include a corn snake, a baby American alligator, yellow-bellied and red-eared slider turtles and an observation bee hive. I was more fascinated by the less lively critters on display. Laid out on a table for you to feel are the pelts of a variety of animals, including fox, skunk, beaver, squirrel, raccoon and mink. My choice for the softest and most luxurious: the beaver.
The Environmental Discovery Center is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and 1 to 5 p.m. Sundays. For more information on Lynches River County Park, click here http://lynchesriverpark.com/ or call (843) 389-0550.