This state park, located just outside Chester, was built by the Civilian Conservation Corps during the 1930s as part of President Franklin Roosevelt’s “New Deal,” a federal work-relief program designed to help alleviate poverty caused by the Great Depression. Today the park encompasses 523 acres and offers hiking trails, boating, camping, birding, and more. The centerpiece of Chester State Park is its 160-acre lake, which is traversed by a 472-foot bridge that is perfect for fishing and watching wildlife. Swimming is not allowed.
The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) program lasted from 1933 to 1942 and initially provided employment to men aged 18-25; that range later expanded to 17-28. It specifically created manual labor jobs to aid in the conservation and development of natural areas owned by federal, state, and local governments. Workers were housed in lodges on site. Each man earned $30 per month, $25 of which had to be sent home, and he was provided with shelter, clothing, and food. The program enjoyed wide public support and it resulted in a greater awareness and appreciation for the outdoors in our nation. Chester State Park is one of 16 state parks built by the CCC in South Carolina.
Caney Folk Falls Trail – a 1.3-mile hiking path – winds around the lake’s shore and leads to a stone spillway (shown above). This spillway, which dates from 1936, prevents water from flowing over the park’s dam during periods of intense rain.
A boat ramp is available for man-powered boats or those with electric trolling motors. Canoes are available to rent at the boathouse, shown here, for those who wish to cast a line for bass, bream, catfish, and crappie. Of course, you can also just paddle around the lake, birdwatching and observing wildlife along its forested banks. Picnic shelters and two large playgrounds round out the fun.
Geocaching is another popular recreational activity, with several geocaches located within the park. A 27-hole, tournament-sactioned disc golf course opened in 2013. Lakeview Hall, an enclosed event rental facility, is a popular site for weddings, reunions, and corporate events. Chester State Park also boasts a 25-site campground which accommodates both tents and RVs.