South Carolina Department of Natural Resources
Ashmore Heritage Preserve/Wildlife Management Area
Property LocationCleveland, SC 29635
Latitude: 35.087 Longitude:-82.584
Game Zone: 1
Property Type: Heritage Preserve / WMA Other
Hours of Operation
The area is open only during daylight hours.
Activities / Facilities
A hiking trail, called the Mountain Bridge Passage trail, now links hiking access from SC Hwy 11 to the mountain trails within Caesars Head State Park. The trail, constructed in the spring of 2007, is the result of a partnership between Naturaland Trust, SC Department of Natural Resources, and SC Parks, Recreation and Tourism. Access from SC Hwy 11 is at Camp Spearhead, acquired by Naturaland Trust. The trail head is behind the gate at Camp Spearhead (do not block the gate) and it follows the first roadbed to the left before reaching the camp (do not enter the camp). The hiking trail is blazed in a yellow-orange color. The trail runs parallel to Persimmon Ridge Road and enters Ashmore Heritage Preserve; 0.94 miles of the trail are within the preserve. The trail crosses West Fork Creek and then bears north and west along the creek. Visitors will enjoy long spurred violets, and a bridge crossing West Fork Creek sheeting over a large outcrop within the preserve. Just north of Ashmore Heritage Preserve, the trail passes beside a small waterfall and then ascends Campbell Mountain. Note this is NOT a loop trail.
"Leaves are dancing in the wind as the branches nod and sway
As though each twig would like to say,
''Welcome, Friend; it's a delightful day.''
And may these trees remain uncut
And may this land stay free and clear;
And may God's creatures roam and feed without the thought of fear.
Yes, it's great to look upon a tree and feel the thrill God has for us to see;
Or to be shaded by its leafy arms
As well as thrilled by its lofty charms.
Here, the supreme Architect of all creation
Raised his hand to morning bright
And renewed my soul with nature's great delight."
The late Russell Ashmore Sr., who wrote this poem in 1974, loved children, nature and the mountains. He owned property, now part of the 1,125.5-acre Ashmore Heritage Preserve, a segment of the Mountain Bridge Wilderness off Scenic Highway 11 near Caesars Head State Park. The way he felt about the wondrous place is summed up in this poem, his son, Russell Ashmore Jr. says. It is inscribed on a monument honoring him, his children, Russell and Richard Ashmore and Becky King, established on the preserve near the 5.5-acre Lake Wattacoo.
One of the senior Ashmore's dreams was to establish a wildlife trail on the property. After he died, his children followed his dream and sold the property to the SC Department of Natural Resources' Heritage Trust Program in the 1980s to ensure that the area would be protected forever. Additional properties were purchased from other landowners since then to protect more rare communities.
The preserve also features a natural bog which creates favorable habitat for rare plants and other species, such as orchids, sundew and ferns. In the autumn, hardwoods, turning leaves are spectacular.
A rare plant, piedmont ragwort, grows on a granitic outcrop and the fire-dependent turkeybeard, on the special concern list, grows on two of the pine-dominated ridges. It's worth the trip just to see the flora.
In addition to the flora, three animals on the state's list of special concern species live there: the green salamander, the state-endangered Rafinesque's big-eared bat and wood rats. Deer, black bear, turkey, squirrels, a few ruffed grouse, black racers, and all kinds of birds, including wood ducks, blue-headed vireos and ovenbirds also make this area their home.
In addition to hiking through on the yellow-orange blazed Mountain Bridge Passage Trail, visitors can elect to hike a loop trail around the pond called Lake Wattacoo. That loop trail is blazed in a pink-purple color. Portions of that trail follow old roadbeds. The segment of the trail that winds around the dam offers a splendid view of outcrops and a water slide. A beaver pond is below the dam.
The preserve is part of the Caesars Head Wildlife Management Area in Game Zone 1 of Region 1. WMA's are open to hunting in season with a WMA permit.