Places We Protect

Peachtree Rock Heritage Preserve

South Carolina

An immense rock in a forest clearing.
Peachtree Rock Peachtree Rock in Peachtree Rock Preserve © Harold E. Malde

Peachtree Rock Heritage Preserve is one of the Midlands' best hiking destinations.

Overview

Description

A Prehistoric Playground

Only 30 minutes away from downtown Columbia, S.C., Peachtree Rock Heritage Preserve feels like a trip back in time.

Layered sandstone formations, riddled with the fossils of ancient marine creatures, crop up on either side of the well-kept trails. Native longleaf pines tower overhead. Near the preserve’s entrance, the only natural waterfall on the state’s coastal plain splashes into a small pool.

Rich in culture, history, unusual geology, plants and wildlife, Peachtree Rock Heritage Preserve is a wonderful and educational place to visit. A new kiosk near the preserve’s titular formation – the now-toppled Peachtree Rock – describes the area’s unique natural offerings.

Access

OPEN TO THE PUBLIC

Highlights

Rich in culture, history and unusual geology.

Size

460 acres

Explore our work in this region

A cardinal rests on a snowy branch.
Cardinal Female Cardinal taking a rest while being pursued by a suitor in Oshawa Ontario Canada. © Eric Branton/TNC Photo Contest 2019

A Fallen Landmark

The “big rock” for which Peachtree Rock Heritage Preserve was named took the shape of an inverted pyramid, balanced on its tip. This unusual silhouette was created when the waters of the Atlantic Ocean receded long ago. The lower layers of the rock eroded more quickly, creating a wide top and narrow base.

Erosion, storms and visitors carving into the rock gradually wore away at that fragile pedestal. On December 7, 2013, a hiker observed that Peachtree Rock had toppled.

The sandstone’s crumbly nature made it impossible to hold up the rock artificially, so the decision was made it leave it on its side. The Nature Conservancy and South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (SC-DNR) continue to monitor its position and stability.

While the big rock has fallen, a smaller but similar formation – affectionately known as “Little Peachtree Rock” – still stands just off the trail near the back of the preserve.

Visit the Preserve

  • Prepare For Your Visit
    • Wear walking shoes or hiking boots.  
    • Animals are permitted only if they are on a leash. 
    • Please do not touch or climb on Peachtree Rock. 
  • What To See: Plants
    Diverse plant communities ranging from bogs to xeric sandhill scrub can be found at the preserve. The area harbors a swamp tupelo-evergreen shrub bog and a longleaf pine ecosystem. Typical sandhill scrub vegetation, including pines, turkey oaks and sparkleberry bushes are present in abundance on the preserve. The federally endangered Rayner's blueberry is found growing on the seepage slope within the longleaf pine forest.

    Visitors can observe moisture-loving plants, including mountain laurel and the crane-fly orchid. The latter's leaves are visible during winter and spring. The flowering spike, which is 4 to 20 inches tall, appears during September. Near the waterfall, several fern communities can be observed and maple-leafed viburnum grows in abundance here. Sand myrtles, titi and sweet pepper bush dominate the seepage slopes. Two contrasting plant communities can be noted here: the shade and moisture-loving galax, normally found only in cool mountain environments, and Solidago pauciflosculosa, a unique woody goldenrod, which grows on drier slopes.

  • What To See: Animals

    Many different animals live amidst the undergrowth at the preserve, including Northern red salamanders, skinks, antlions and several species of beetles. In the forest surrounding the trail, the chirping of birds and a flash of wings may reveal a chickadee, titmouse, cardinal, even a yellow-billed cuckoo or red-cockaded woodpecker.

Plants of Peachtree Rock

These are just a few plants you might see during your visit.

Yellow petals emerge from a witch hazel plant.
A white flower emerges from a plant blooming on a forest floor.
A green plant has petite white blooms.
Small white flowers emerge from a green plant.
A plant with white flowers grows among pine needles covering the forest floor.
A big green rosemary plant grows among sandy soils.
A yellow flower emerges from a small green plant.
A dark red bloom emerges from a green plant.
Big green fern branches grow in a forest.
Blueberries dry up on a woody branch.

Peachtree Rock Wildlife

  • Bird Brochure

    The Midlands Master Naturalists created a bird brochure for TNC's Peachtree Rock Heritage Reserve.

    DOWNLOAD
  • Bird List

    The Midlands Master Naturalists created a bird list for TNC's Peachtree Rock Heritage Reserve.

    DOWNLOAD
  • Plant List

    The Midlands Master Naturalists created a plant list for TNC's Peachtree Rock Heritage Reserve.

    DOWNLOAD

Support Peachtree Rock

Peachtree Rock is a Heritage Preserve co-managed by TNC and SC-DNR to nurture its on-site native longleaf pine forests. In 2007, we replaced 74 acres of non-native slash pine with longleaf pine seedlings that have been nurtured through controlled burning to remove dense underbrush and encourage longleaf germination and growth.