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Peachtree Rock Heritage Preserve — Swansea, South Carolina

SC Picture Project  |  Lexington County  |  Peachtree Rock Heritage Preserve

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Peachtree Rock Heritage Preserve

Peachtree Rock Heritage Preserve in Lexington County is a 460-acre sanctuary that boasts some of the state’s most diverse plant communities along with the unique sandstone formations that lend the preserve its name. The land is jointly managed by the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources and The Nature Conservancy.

Peachtree Rock Heritage Preserve

Larry Gleason of Aiken, 2013 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

The sandstone formations, including Peachtree Rock pictured above, originated millions of years ago when oceans washed over the ancient shoreline of the Midlands. Erosion from the sea ultimately created these remarkable boulders, with heavy tops made of ironstone supported by narrow bottoms made of brittle sandstone.

Peachtree Rock Swansea

Larry Gleason of Aiken, 2013 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

Their unusual shape gave the rocks their nickname, as many say they resemble peach trees. The fact that the formations have balanced here for millions of years is incredible. Sadly, the preserve’s signature Peachtree Rock finally toppled on December 8, 2013.

Peachtree Rock HP

Ronda Kosmos of Lexington, 2013 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

To date, it has not been determined if the downing of the rock was natural or the act of vandals. However, it is known that vandals carving into the rock over the years accelerated the weakening of the formation’s base. For years people have been carving their initials into the soft sandstone, and evidence of saw blades can be seen in the base of Peachtree Rock.

Fallen Peachtree Rock

Larry Gleason of Aiken, 2014 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

Managers from both the Nature Conservancy and the Department of Natural Resources doubt they will ever know the cause of the rock’s fall. The rock will remain on its side, in the same spot it has occupied for millions of years.

Peachtree Rock Fallen

Larry Gleason of Aiken, 2014 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

While the rocks are a popular sight for visitors to see, the preserve’s noted plant diversity also draws people from all over. With habitats ranging from damp valleys punctuated by the Hunt Branch (a creek) to rocky cliffs generously dusted with sand, 245 plant species abound. The mountainous plants galax (Galax urceolata) and mountain laurel (Kalmia latifolia) grow on slopes and at the lower stream heads, while the xeric, sandy ridge above is home to longleaf pine (Pinus palustris) and turkey oak (Quercus laevis).

Peachtree Rock

Lauren Garner of Lexington © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

The preserve also harbors the Midlands’ only naturally-occurring waterfall. Less than 20 feet high, the descending water is a beautiful anomaly within the South Carolina sandhills.

Peachtree Rock Preserve Waterfall

Larry Gleason of Aiken, 2013 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

The rocks and plants of the preserve are wonders to experience, yet as evidenced by Peachtree Rock, they are fragile. Though Peachtree Rock has been roped off for years, people nonetheless crossed the rope to touch the precarious stone.

Peachtree Rock Trail

Larry Gleason of Aiken, 2013 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

The Department of Natural Resources asks that visitors not climb the preserve’s formations, including the fallen Peachtree Rock, for their own safety and also to ensure that the formations remain in their natural state for as long as possible.

Peachtree Rock Lexington County

Larry Gleason of Aiken, 2013 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

Peachtree Rock Heritage Preserve Info

Address: Peachtree Rock Road, Swansea, SC 29073
GPS Coordinates: 33.828000,-81.202000

Peachtree Rock Heritage Preserve Map

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7 Comments about Peachtree Rock Heritage Preserve

SC Picture Project says:
October 23rd, 2018 at 4:36 pm

Hi Marty, we have a map of the location at the bottom of almost every landmark but you have to be on a desktop to view at the moment. There is a more detailed map of the preserve itself located here: https://www.sctrails.net/trails/trail/peachtree-rock-heritage-preserve. We hope you enjoy your visit.

Marty Graf says:
October 23rd, 2018 at 1:04 pm

Directions to the preserve and a map of the trail would be helpful.

yvonne says:
January 27th, 2018 at 9:48 pm

People are still vandalizing this nice place, climbing on the formations and propelling off of them and taking pictures to show it. There was even one on the facebook page, but it was recently removed.

SCIWAY says:
December 9th, 2013 at 9:11 am

Wow, what a shame! Thank you for this information. We will honor Peachtree Rock in our newsletter this January.

Ken Hutto says:
December 8th, 2013 at 7:08 pm

It was reported today – 12/08/2013 – that the rock has fallen over. I hope that this was a natural act.

Diane Lucas Whiting says:
November 22nd, 2013 at 4:07 pm

I am originally from Lexington County, SC. I grew up and attended Bethel Methodist Church and we would walk the path down to Peach Tree Rock. When I was a kid and teen it was a popular place to picnic and yes, back then, we could climb on all of the rocks. The small canyon where the waterfall is had a rope swing that we would use to swing across to go to the Peach Tree Rock. It was beautiful back then. Natural, pristine. If only I had know all of this as a kid.

Kristen Weeber says:
August 24th, 2011 at 7:05 pm

Great picture!


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