On a hot, humid August day in 1780 200 Patriot militia defeated over 500 Loyalist troops at the battle of Musgrove Mill. Today you can visit the beautiful Musgrove Mill State Historic Site to walk the steps of those soldiers and militiamen. If you do, you’ll also enjoy a beautiful, wooded hike alongside a clear, clean creek and waterfall.
A Day at Musgrove Mill State Historic Site
You’ll want to begin your visit at the Visitor’s Center, where park rangers will play a short audio presentation about the battle, accompanied by a map with lighted markers, which will give your family a birds-eye view of the movement of both patriot and loyalist troops. Then you’ll need to choose to hike one of Musgrove Mill’s two trails. Will it be the one mile hike to the loyalist camp along the Enoree River? Or will it be the 1.3 mile battlefield trail beginning at Horseshoe Falls along Cedar Shoals Creek? My family is studying the Revolutionary War this fall and have visited several Southern Campaign battlefields, so we decided to follow the battlefield trail. We were not disappointed!
Hikers will find the camp trail at the end of the Visitor Center parking lot, but if your family decides to visit the falls and the battlefield trail, you’ll need to get back in your car and drive about three miles to cross the Enoree River and get to the park’s other parking lot. The ranger at the Visitor Center will provide you with a map! You can also follow the road signs for Horseshoe Falls. When you arrive at the trail head, you will find a gravel parking lot and sign, just before the metal bridge that crosses the creek.
The battlefield trail begins with a couple hundred yards of a concrete, wheel chair accessible trail that takes you to Horseshoe Falls. Hikers of the battlefield trail will continue on past the falls, where the trail is no longer paved. The battlefield trail is a 1.3 mile loop, with frequent signage that describes the backcountry’s roll in the Revolutionary War, the key players in the Battle of Musgrove Mill, and takes you step by step through the battle. You’ll walk the soldiers’ path to the ridge where the outnumbered patriot militia waited to attack the loyalists. Of the Revolutionary War sites my family has visited, these signs were the easiest for my children to understand. My 8 year-old was able to read the majority of them aloud to the rest of us, and the pictures were clear and helpful. It was wonderful to gain a clear understanding and appreciation for what happened that day on the exact ridge upon which we stood.
The battlefield hike does have some hills, but our little group didn’t find it too difficult. My 5 year-old was able to hike it without any difficulty, and my 3 year-old needed a piggy back ride for just the last bit of the loop. For young children, a carrier backpack would be helpful.
On our hike back to the car, we stopped at Horseshoe Falls to enjoy the waterfall and have a snack before heading for home. The nature loving, rock skipping, critter hunting little ones among you will love exploring the edge of the sandy pool at the bottom of the falls.
Want to go?
Musgrove Mill State Historic Site is located at 398 State Park Rd, Clinton, SC 29325. The Horseshoe Falls and battlefield trail is open sunrise to sunset daily, and the gate to the visitor center and camp trail is open 9am to 6pm daily. The visitor center is open 10am-5pm Friday through Sunday, and other times depending on staff availability. (We went on a Monday morning and there were two very helpful staff members at the Visitor’s Center.) Admission to this site is free! You can find more information and directions here.
Curious to learn about the battle before you go? Check out this site, which gives an overview of the battle.
We hope you love your hike through a bit of American history. If you enjoy the trip, you’ll be happy to know that there are many state and national parks at the site of revolutionary war battles in the upstate and throughout South Carolina. You’ll find an excellent overview of the war in South Carolina, and links to sites you can visit today here.
Would your kids enjoy a historical field trip to Musgrove Mill State Historic Site?