When you know the state park manager you can get an escort at midnight to your campsite.
Poinsett State Park in Sumter County, SC is about a four-hour drive for us. Conveniently located on the way to our favorite beach campground, it’s a great place to stop and visit friends who live there. Last time we visited Emily she was a state park ranger at Santee State Park. Now she is THE park manager of Poinsett State Park.
The park was built in 1934 by the CCC. It includes a ten-acre pond, 25 miles of hiking/biking trails, and pre-revolutionary gristmill ruins. The CCC built a bathhouse out of the historic coquina rock that was quarried in this location. More on that later.
Poinsett State Park has a large playground, multiple fields and picnic tables, and offers rentals for the pond. (Kayaks, canoes, pedal boats, and jon boats).
Poinsett State Park has five cabins available to rent. The campground has 50 campsites located up a hill in the woods. Half of the campground offers sites with power and water, the other half just water. Emily set us up on one of the best campsites in the loop, site 23.
Campsite 23 is a 40ft back-in site located at the beginning of the tent loop. It is private from the other campsites and has a large wooded area behind the site that was great for walking the dogs. We were not able to back all the way into the site because of the location of our slide and the water spigot. There is a tree at the front that prevented us from putting out our awning, but there is plenty of shade from all the trees.
We arrived at the campground at midnight and Emily was waiting for us at the entrance of the park. The road to get into the campground is only big enough for one vehicle at a time. If someone else was to pass from the other direction (hopefully they don’t also have a camper) they would need to pull off onto the side of the road.
Roads in Poinsett State Park cannot be widened because of the historic coquina rock. 50 million years ago the Atlantic Ocean covered this area where the park is located. The rock is formed from shells of many different sea animals. The first mill was located here in 1761 and went through multiple owners and advancement of technology. During the Revolutionary War, Singeleton’s Mill served as a meeting location for the British.
We woke up Saturday morning and walked the campground. The roads in the campground are made of sand and dirt, similar to what we experienced at Santee State Park. We also hiked about two miles of trails before lunch. Next to our site was the beginning of Whippoorwill Trail. It connected to other trails providing plenty of options for the hike.
In the afternoon we spent some time on the playground, walked over to the gristmill ruins and waterfall, and bought a sticker for our camping book. Emily also let us know the price difference on firewood at her park compared to Huntington Beach State Park where we were headed. We saved about $4 a bundle by buying it at Poinsett.
On Sunday morning we packed up and got ready to head to the beach. Site 23 sits past the RV loop and into the start of the tent loop. There is one tree we were concerned about if we decided to drive through the tent loop to get out. Later in the loop there is a turn that we had to navigate extra carefully in order to not swipe the camper on a tree.
Looking back, we should have pulled forward to the right to get out of the campsite and then backed up the road to enter the RV loop. Emily escorted us through the tent loop and out of the park. We showed her the two trees that we thought should be taken out in order for campers to get out of the site. Any trailer bigger than ours would not have made it.
Things to know at Poinsett:
1. We had okay cell service in the campground (AT&T and Verizon.) Near the front of the state park we both lost all service. Be sure to pull up your GPS before leaving the campsite.