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Goodale State Park ...

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Goodale State Park - South Carolina

Joe Kegley | E-Mail | Updated 04-18-09

White Water Lily

White Water Lily, Goodale State Park
- Joe Kegley


Thanks to Virginia Winn and Lynn Smith for help with plant identification.

N.R. Goodale State Park is located near Camden, SC. The center piece of the park is a dammed mill pond constructed in the Civil War era. The park encompasses 763 acres including the 140 acre pond. Pond Cypress and various aquatic plants are scattered throughout the mill pond and Pine Tree Creek.

Amenities include a rentable meeting building with kitchen, bathrooms, picnic tables, a 3 mile marked canoe trail up Pine Tree Creek, and a short natural trail. Popular activities within the park are fishing and canoeing. Combustion engines are not allowed on the pond or canoe trail, electric-trolling motors and non-motorized boats only.

Camping is not available within the park boundary.

Nature Perspective

Floating Heart

Floating Heart, Goodale State Park
- Joe Kegley

Adams Mill Pond and Pine Tree Creek at Goodale State Park are a botanist's delight. While canoeing or kayaking one will observe various aquatic plant species. Goodale has some plants I would normally associate with the swamps and marshes located further south and closer to the coast. The ecosystem encompassing and surrounding the water mimics that of a cypress-tupelo "blackwater" swamp.

Four lily "like" aquatic plants are readily observed while canoeing the trail, white water lily, spatterdock, floating hearts, and water shield. Look for the white water lily, spatterdock, and floating hearts to start blooming in May.

White water lilies can be found throughout the Pine Tree Creek portion of the canoe trail.


Spatterdock, Goodale State Park
- Joe Kegley

Floating hearts are sometimes mixed in with the white water lilies and water shield. Floating hearts have a very small white flower with floating leaves that are more heart shaped than the standard white water lily.

Look for the spatterdock when canoeing deeper areas of the creek. Spatterdock has larger leaves than the white water lily and has a yellow flower (bulb) that never seems to open fully.

The water shields can be seen right after launching and entering Adams Mill pond from the canoe launch area (not the rental canoe launch area, but the one used if you bring your own canoe or kayak). The leaves of the water shield are somewhat oval in shape.

Golden Club

Golden Club, Goodale State Park
- Joe Kegley

Probably my favorite aquatic plant at Goodale State Park is the golden club. Also known as never-wet because water beads and rolls off the surface. The golden club blooms in early spring at Goodale (late-March thru mid-April). The bloom forms a "club" with tiny yellow flowers at the tip of a white stalk. The bottom half of the stalk is purplish, greenish, brownish, or a combination of the three. Unlike white water lilies that bloom all summer long, the yellow flowers on the Golden Club last only a few weeks.

Other common flora found on the canoe trail include the carnivorous purple bladderwort, American bur-reed, swamp iris, eel grass, and of course the pond cypress.

Only the flowering stem of the purple bladderwort extends above the water. The business end (bladder) that catches insects is below the water. The bladder is under negative pressure. Small insects underneath the water brush against trigger hairs connected to the trapdoor of the bladder. When the trapdoor is mechanically triggered, the door opens and the prey along with the water, are swept into the bladder. Once the bladder is full of water, the door closes again until the trap is ready to be set again.

The American Bur-reed is a semi-aquatic sedge and has a flower shaped like a burr which blooms in the spring. The stem appears to grow at a different angle at each burr intersection.

Purple Bladderwort

Purple Bladderwort, Goodale State Park
- Joe Kegley

Eel grass is found in the water on the upper half of the canoe trail on Pine Tree Creek. Depending on water level, this water grass can really slow a canoe or kayak down. There will be no question as to the direction of the flow when you encounter the eel grass. The grass will be bent, gently following the direction of the current.

One interesting species of plant that doesn't reside on the canoe trail is the Dwarf Sundew, another carnivorous variety. This very small sundew can be found in the lawn just below the parking area near the main building. Unfortunately the lawn is mowed on a regular basis. Look for the very small white flower in April low to the ground. See the map for a better idea of location.

Dwarf Sundew

Dwarf Sundew, Goodale State Park
- Joe Kegley

Golden Club

Golden Club, Goodale State Park
- Joe Kegley

American Bur-reed

American Bur-reed, Goodale State Park
- Joe Kegley

In addition to the varied plant life, the park also boasts good birding. During the spring Prothonotary Warblers are regularly heard and seen along the canoe trail. There is a Blue Heron rookery about half way up the canoe trail on Pine Tree Creek. Look for nesting activity during April and early May. On recent trips I have also observed American Coots, Wood Ducks, Belted Kingfishers, and Great Egrets.

Supposedly alligators also inhabit Goodale State Park, but I have yet to see one, though I know friends who have. I get the impression the gators are far and few between. You are more likely to see the green anole (Carolina anole) or a yellow-bellied slider at the park than an alligator.

Wilderness Experience Perspective

While there is no real wilderness experience, the park was never very busy the few times I have gone. If you get to the canoe launch at opening (9:00am), you may have an hour or so of solitude, especially on a weekday. Realize some of the canoe trail parallels a road so you will have traffic noise occasionally. For what it is, a small state park in the middle of the populated Camden vicinity, this place is a real jewel.

Photography Perspective

Water Shield

Water Shield, Goodale State Park
- Joe Kegley

The only obstruction for great photography at this location is the hours. The park is open 9:00 am to 6:00 pm. By the time you get your canoe off the car and into Pine Tree Creek it will be 9:30 am.

During the spring and summer the sun is a little high for good photography lighting during the hours of operation. Still, I definitely recommend a visit. If you live close by you could plan a day when the weather is overcast to make up for the poor lighting. Or use a flash to compensate for the high sun.

This is a beautiful place and well worth the canoeing adventure. Note you will know you are entering the marked canoe trail when you pass a weather beaten sign on the other side of Adams Mill Pond attached to two pond cypresses that says "No pedal boats beyond this sign".

Gear/equipment Suggestions

  • Canoe/Kayak - Take a canoe (or kayak) for canoeing (or kayaking) Pine Tree Creek or rent a canoe at the park.

  • Insect Repellent - So far I have found insect repellent unnecessary, but you never know.

Location and Points of Interest

  • From I-20 heading east from Columbia SC take the exit for Camden (Hwy 521) heading north.
  • Approximately 2.3 miles after leaving the interstate, take a right onto Hwy 1.
  • Approximately 3.1 miles take a right onto Old Stagecoach Rd.
  • Approximately 2.5 miles take a left onto Park Rd (Should be a sign for Goodale State Park).
  • The entrance is a very short distance on the right. There will be signs.

Goodale State Park Map (Google interactive map)

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Additional Information

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