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Cheraw State Park — Cheraw, South Carolina

SC Picture Project  |  Chesterfield County  |  Cheraw State Park

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Cheraw State Park

Known for its 18-hole championship golf course as well as its 360-acre Lake Juniper, Cheraw State Park has something to offer all lovers of the outdoors. Like many South Carolina state parks, it was developed in the 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), a work relief program established in 1933 by President Franklin Roosevelt as part of the New Deal. In fact, Cheraw State Park was the first state park proposed in the Palmetto State in 1934, though Myrtle Beach State Park was the first to open in 1936. The park is also one of two Recreational Demonstrations Areas (RDAs) in South Carolina (the other is Kings Mountain State Park). RDAs are parks created with overused, barren farmland purchased by the government during the Resettlement Administration in the 1930s.

Cheraw State Park

Marc Epting of Sumter, 2013 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

According to local history, children from the Cheraw area collected pennies for the development of the park, and the community contributed heavily towards the donations. As a result the Town of Cheraw was able to purchase 700 acres for the park. By 1934, another 7,362 acres had been donated by local citizens and the federal government. The park sits near the Carolina Sandhills National Wildlife Refuge as well as the Sand Hills State Forest; all three sites are abundant in longleaf pines (Pinus palustris), which provide habitat to the federally-endangered red-cockaded woodpecker (Picoides borealis).

Boardwalk at Cheraw State Park

Chansak “Joe” Aroonmanakul of Fayetteville, NC, 2019 © No Reproduction Permitted

The highlight of the park is Lake Juniper, one of the park’s first CCC projects. Though it is closed for swimming during the winter, other water activities are available, including boating and fishing with a license. Canoes and kayaks can be rented for the day at the park, and private gasoline-powered boats up to 10 horsepower are permitted. Those paddling across the two-and-a-half mile lake and back can expect to be on the water for three or four hours. A Moonlight Canoe Float is hosted by the park once a month from March through October.

Cheraw State Park Lake

Linda Brown of Kingstree, 2016 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

A five-mile equestrian trail and camping facility are available for horse-lovers, and the four-and-a-half mile Turkey Oak Trail allows hikers to explore the park’s natural beauty, as does a nine-mile bike trail. Both regular campsites and cabins can be rented for those who need more than a day at this beloved state park.

Lake Juniper Boardwalk

Donna Edgeworth of Scranton, 2014 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

Within the park, Lake Juniper offers impressive wildlife viewing opportunities. Seen here is a mother Osprey in the process of building a nest for her young. The diet of an Osprey consists almost entirely of fish, making this habitat a perfect one.

Mother Osprey Lake Juniper

Ronnie Hucks of Florence, 2016 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

Reflections on Cheraw State Park

Jim Jenkins of Chesterfield contributed the photo below shares: “As a teenager, I spent many wonderful summer days at Cheraw State Park, swimming, camping, and picnicking. At that time it was a chore to get to the other side of Lake Juniper, but the attractive boardwalk that has been added makes it a pleasant way to see the lake, the dam, campsites, and even fish from the boardwalk. Many folks who have not visited the park in recent years are not even aware the boardwalk has been built. This is a wonderful addition to the park facilities.”

Lake Juniper in Cheraw, South Carolina

Jim Jenkins of Chesterfield, 2013 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

David Lurty, who contributed the photo below, writes: “I live in the Upstate but was visiting Cheraw and my friends took me to Lake Juniper. I was impressed with the boardwalk along the lake and thought this would be a good picture.”

David Lurtey, 2007 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

Photographer Ronnie Hucks shares his comments about photographing the Osprey in his photo above: “I was able to quietly paddle reasonably close to this mother osprey guarding her nest in Lake Juniper. Took a few photographs, and quickly went on my way so as not to disturb.”

SC Picture Project visitor Steve Bilby of Cheraw says that he and his family “often go kayaking on Lake Juniper, and especially love to slowly meander though the cypress trees at the head of the lake. The beauty and tranquility is unsurpassed as nature’s bounty overflows at every turn.”

Cheraw State Park Info

Address: 100 State Park Road, Cheraw, SC 29520
GPS Coordinates: 34.640460,-79.895983
Website: http://www.southcarolinaparks.com/cheraw/cheraw-things.aspx

Cheraw State Park Map

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2 Comments about Cheraw State Park

Leah sweatt says:
February 25th, 2017 at 11:34 pm

Can you email some info on this camp? I have googled everywhere and can’t seem to find a history on it. My family walked through all of the old cabins today in Camp Juniper and Camp Forest and just wanted to find more info on the history.

Frank Thomas says:
April 23rd, 2014 at 7:45 am

Until at least 1968 the park had several sets of army-brown cabins (4 or 5 maybe) circling a washhouse/toilet structure. The Methodist Church in N.C. called it “Camp Forest” and used it the summer of 1949. The camp covered a large area. I was 13 years old. It was a wonderful experience. At Evening Vespers on the sandy beach we were enormously impressed by a large cross set ablaze on an island at the swampy end of the lake. A real come-to-Jesus moment.

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