The Eastatoe Passage, located in Pickens County, was created in partnership with SC Department of Natural Resources and SC Parks, Recreation and Tourism, Duke Energy, and the Naturaland Trust. The passage provides access for hiking, birdwatching, and excellent trout fishing, through a protected wilderness area. It begins in the Jocassee Gorges Wilderness, described by National Geographic as a “destination of a lifetime” and ends at Keowee Toxaway State Park. The Eastatoe Passage is crossed by two bridges, which washed away during spring storms in 2019. One bridge was replaced at the end of 2020, and a small window of opportunity allowed us to replace the second this spring. Loss of these bridges prevented hikers from crossing two rivers, and thus prevented connectivity with the rest of the Trail. The zeke suspension bridges that replaced the old break-away bridges have been designed to blend in with the natural environment, and are constructed in the most environmentally sensitive manner possible. Both bridges are raised significantly above the recent flood level that destroyed the previous bridges. Construction was completed by Palmetto Trail staff and Beanstalk Builders. Since opening, the suspension bridges have become a destination, garnering rave reviews.
The Palmetto Trail is a mountains-to-the-sea hiking and cycling trail, constructed as a series of discrete passages. The Palmetto Trail is free and open to all, and has been more heavily used than ever as the pandemic temporarily closed other recreational facilities and as families rediscovered the joys of outdoor activity.