Rock Hill Blackjacks Heritage Preserve/Wildlife Management Area

Property Location

Rock Hill, SC 29730

Latitude: 34.904  Longitude:-81.023
Acreage: 291
County: York
Game Zone: 2

Property Type: Heritage Preserve / WMA Specific

Hours of Operation

The area is open during daylight hours year-round.

Activities / Facilities

Hunting Nature Viewing Hiking

Property Description

Photograph of Schweinitz's Sunflower

The Rock Hill Blackjacks Heritage Preserve covers 291 acres at the edge of the city of Rock Hill in York County. The Preserve is a blend of prairie-like meadows, wetlands, upland swamps, lichen-covered boulders, wildflowers, wildlife and forests, including the blackjack oaks. This small area is all that remains of the once widespread prairie system in South Carolina.

Red-shouldered and Red-tailed Hawks might be spotted in a field managed as a hawk meadow by the parking lot and entrance to the preserve off Blackmon Road. Songbirds abound in the preserve, as well as deer, turkeys, bobcats and foxes.

Once, the blackjacks were the Catawba Indians' hunting grounds. Later, farmers found the land hard to work because the soil was muddy in the winter and dry and hard in the summer months. Today, the blackjacks are isolated parcels of natural communities of plants and animals in 12 counties of the Piedmont, including York County.

The Preserve is the only location where the federally endangered Schweinitz's sunflower enjoys permanent protection. Three rare plant communities and 21 rare plant species are found on this property.

Irregular swamps are among the wettest sites in the blackjacks, usually full of water only during the winter months. The wetlands are home to a variety of wildlife, including amphibians. Drier land surrounds the winter swamps, with a different kind of vegetation. One part leads to another, from glades, grasses and prairie-like meadows to the forest of hardwoods and pines. Huge rocks and boulders stud the forest floor.

In addition to the blackjack oaks, other trees include willow oaks, post oak, redbud, hickories, flowering dogwoods, hawthorns, red cedar and short-leaf pine.

Grasses such as broom sedges flourish here. Tarheel hickory, Barberry, nodding onion and Indian current, all unusual in South Carolina, carpet the forest floor.

Every season offers different delights. Visitors might want to bring along a wildflower field guide. Prairie flowers bloom in the summer and early fall. Schweinitz's Sunflower, a federally endangered species, blooms in late summer and early fall, along with purple phlox, false foxglove and blazing star. The springtime comes alive with color and thousands of wildflowers, including yellow sunflowers, purple and white violets, wild azalea, white flowered aster and pale purple flowering foxglove.

An uncommon flower is Prairie Dock, a plant with clusters of big leaves and a tall stalk that can reach a height of 6 feet with showy yellow flowers.

The preserve is open during daylight hours. Bow hunting for deer is allowed - see Rules and Regulations for details. Vehicles, alcohol, littering and camping are prohibited.