Hiking With A History Lesson: Battle of Musgrove Mill State Historic Site

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If you are looking for a fun outing in the great outdoors while taking in history, then the Musgrove Mill State Historic Site is the place! Learning about history doesn’t have to be boring, it can be an adventure! Local mom Maria took her kids to Musgrove Mill State Historic Site and is sharing her experience with us. This beautiful outdoor destination includes lots of territory to explore plus American history to share with your family.

This park is part of the free incentive program to get kids exploring the outdoors! Learn all about it in our review of the Kids in Parks Program!

On a hot, humid day on August 19, 1780, 200 Patriot militia defeated over 500 Loyalist troops at the Battle of Musgrove Mill. Today you can visit the beautiful Musgrove Mill State Historic Site to walk the steps of the patriot force and militiamen. If you do, you’ll also enjoy a beautiful, wooded hike alongside a clear, clean creek, and waterfall.

View of the Enoree River at Musgrove Mill
Enoree River at Musgrove Mill

Our Day at Musgrove Mill State Historic Site

You’ll want to begin your visit at the Visitor’s Center, where park rangers will play a short audio presentation about the battle, accompanied by a map with lighted markers, which will give your family a birds-eye view of the movement of both patriot and loyalist troops.

Hiking trails to choose from

Then you’ll need to choose to hike one of Musgrove Mill’s two trails. Will it be the one-mile hike to the loyalist camp along the Enoree River?  Or will it be the 1.3-mile battlefield trail beginning at Horseshoe Falls along Cedar Shoals Creek? My family is studying the American Revolutionary War this fall and have visited several Southern Campaign battlefields, so we decided to follow the battlefield trail. We were not disappointed!

Hikers will find the camp trail at the end of the Visitor Center parking lot, but if your family decides to visit the falls and the battlefield trail, you’ll need to get back in your car and drive about three miles to cross the Enoree River and get to the park’s other parking lot. The ranger at the Visitor Center will provide you with a map!

You can also follow the road signs for Horseshoe Falls. When you arrive at the trailhead, you will find a gravel parking lot and sign, just before the metal bridge that crosses the creek.

View of the fields at Musgrove Mills State Historic Site

The Battlefield Trail at Musgrove Mill

The battlefield trail begins with a couple of hundred yards of concrete, a wheelchair-accessible trail that takes you to Horseshoe Falls. Hikers of the battlefield trail will continue on past the falls, where the trail is no longer paved. The battlefield trail is a 1.3-mile loop, with frequent signage that describes the backcountry’s role in the Revolutionary War, the key players in the Battle of Musgrove Mill, and takes you step by step through the battle. 

Walking through the Revolutionary War sites

You’ll walk the soldiers’ path to the ridge where the outnumbered patriot militia waited to attack the loyalists. Of the Revolutionary War sites my family has visited, these signs were the easiest for my children to understand. My 8-year-old was able to read the majority of them aloud to the rest of us, and the pictures were clear and helpful. It was wonderful to gain a clear understanding and appreciation for what happened that day on the exact ridge upon which we stood.

Hiking the Battlefield Trail with young children

The battlefield hike does have some hills, but our little group didn’t find it too difficult. My 5-year-old was able to hike it without any difficulty, and my 3-year-old needed a piggyback ride for just the last bit of the loop. For young children, a carrier backpack would be helpful.

On our hike back to the car, we stopped at Horseshoe Falls to enjoy the waterfall and have a snack before heading for home. The nature-loving, rock skipping, critter hunting little ones among you will love exploring the edge of the sandy pool at the bottom of the falls.

Horseshoe Falls at Musgrove Mill State Historic Site
Horseshoe Falls at Musgrove Mill State Historic Site

More Things to Do at Musgrove Mill

  • Take a hike on the Palmetto Trail through the Blackstocks Battlefield, a moderately difficult hike with a 1.5-mile loop. This trail goes through the grounds of the Revolutionary War Battle of Blackstocks that occurred on November 20, 1780.
  • Fish on the Enoree River! You will need a SC fishing license, but the park does participate in the Tackle Loaner Program. Just pick up a loaner rod and reel from the park office.
  • Canoe or kayak down the Enoree River. There is a launch site at the park.
  • Have a picnic! There are a couple of shelters on site that are first come first serve, but a big blanket and basket will do the trick.
  • This place is bird heaven! If you love birdwatching or want to incorporate an Ecology lesson into your trip, then you will be happy to know that there are 30+ species of birds that you can see year-round or seasonally, including Great Horned Owls, Wild Turkeys, Great Blue Herons, and dozens more.
  • Geocaching! See what treasure you can find at several geocaching locations in the Musgrove Mill State Historic Site.

How and When to Visit Musgrove Mill

Musgrove Mill State Historic Site is located at 398 State Park Road in Clinton, South Carolina. 

The Horseshoe Falls and battlefield trail is open from 9 am to 6 pm daily. The gate to the visitor center and the camp trail is open 9 am – 6 pm daily.  The visitor center is open 10 am – 5 pm Friday through Sunday, and 10 am – 4 pm Monday through Monday- Thursday. We went on a Monday morning and there were two very helpful staff members at the Visitor’s Center.

There is a small fee for admission since it is part of the SC State Park system. However, if you have an SC State Park pass, it’s free. The SC State Parks website has more information and directions to the Battle of Musgrove Mill State Historic Site.

Curious to learn about the battle before you go? Check out this site, which gives an overview of the battle.

We hope you love your hike through a bit of American history. If you enjoy the trip, you’ll be happy to know that there are many state and national parks at the site of Revolutionary War battles in the upstate and throughout South Carolina. The SC State Parks Revolutionary War History page offers an excellent overview of the war in South Carolina and links to sites you can visit today!

Would your kids enjoy a historical field trip to Musgrove Mill State Historic Site?

Hiking in Greenville, SC

Looking for more hiking adventures?

Check out our Ultimate Guide to Hiking in the Upstate!

Make your adventure an educational one with our guide to Amazing Educational Things to Do in Greenville, SC.

Educational Adventures near Greenville SC

About the Author
Maria Bassett is a former school orchestra teacher, turned homeschool mom. She and her husband homeschool their 3 sons and 1 daughter, who range from 4th grade through 9th grade. Believing children learn best when they are engaged and having fun, this family loves to take their homeschool on the road, around Greenville and beyond.

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