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Landsford Canal State Park

Landsford Canal State Park is a 448-acre state park in Chester County near the town of Catawba.  The park protects the ruins of Landsford Canal, a 2-mile canal built in the 1820s to bypass rocky shoals on Catawba River.  The shallow, rocky water was dangerous from boat traffic, but provided a crossing of the river.  Landsford was named for Thomas Land, an early settler who owned land along the river.  The canal operated from 1820 to 1835 and all that remains are locks, the mill site, the miller's house and the lockkeeper's house.  The park was established in 1970 with 194 acres of land donated by Duke Energy.  The park has expanded with additional parcels.  There is a $5 fee per person to enter the park.

Contact Information:

2051 Park Drive
Catwaba, SC 29704

Phone: (803) 789-5800


The park is located in Chester County along the Catawba River.  From I-77 in Rockhill, take exit 77 and go south on US-21.  In just over 10 miles, turn left on Landsford Road.  Drive 1.6 miles and turn left to enter the park. The parking lot is at the end of the road in about a half-mile.  An fee booth to pay admission is right before the parking lot.



Canal Trail:

Canal Trail is a 1.25-mile trail starting from the park office and heading south, following the ruins of Landsford Canal.  This trail is part of the regional Carolina Thread Trail network.  Near the start, Nature Trail splits to the left near the Guard Lock.  Canal Trail heads away from the river and passes the foundation of a footbridge.  In about a half-mile, the trail rejoins Nature Trail and leads to the Spider Lily Overlook.  There is an old culvert right past the spur to the overlook.  Further down the trail, it passes another culvert then runs between two stone retaining walls at the site of the mill complex.  At the southern terminus of the trail is the Upper Lifting Locks.

Nature Trail:

Nature Trail is a 0.75-mile trail following Catawba River to the Spider Lily Overlook.  The trail starts at the visitor center and heads south to a split, where Canal Trail goes right.  Nature Trail bears left and follows the river closely for three-quarters of a mile to the Spider Lily Overlook.  Canal Trail joins back up near the end.

Points of Interest:

Guard Lock:

The ruins of the guard lock are just south of the park office where Nature and Canal Trail split.  The guard lock was used to lower boats into the canal during periods of high water.


The stone foundation of a footbridge can be seen along Canal Trail about a quarter-mile south of the trailhead.  Footbridges over the canal were necessary to provide access to the ford, an important crossing point on the Catawba River.

Spider Lily Overlook:

Spider Lily Overlook is a wooden observation platform on the rocky shoals of the Catawba River.  This section of river is home to a large population of rocky shoals spider lilies that bloom in late May to early June.


Culverts were used to route the water from small tributaries under the canal and into the Catawba River.  The remains of a culvert can be seen near the spider lily overlook.

Another culvert is just before the retaining walls at the mill complex.

Mill Complex:

The ruins of the mill complex are near the southern end of the Canal Trail.  The canal ran past a mill complex built in 1810 by William Davie.  Retaining walls were built to protect the mill from flowing water in the canal.  The trail passes between these walls, which are about the only thing remaining of the mill complex.

Upper Lifting Locks:

The Upper Lifting Locks are at the south end of Canal Trail.  These locks raised or lowered water level to allow boats to navigate the elevation gain across the canal.


The stretch of Catawba River within the park is home to the largest population of rocky shoals spider lilies (Hymenocallis coronaria) in the world.  These endangered wildflowers only live in shallow, rocky, swift moving waters.  Most of their habitat has been lost due to damming of rivers where these shoals tend to exist.  There is an overlook at the end of the Nature Trail or about half-way through the Canal Trail with views of the lilies, but the best way to see them is by kayak.  We visited during very high water and most were submerged and it was too dangerous to paddle the river.

Spiderwort are common along the banks of the Catawba River.

I spotted this shovel-headed ground worm (Bipalium kewense) along Nature Trail.  I initially thought it was a snake, but it is in fact a flatworm.

Blog Entries:

26-May-2018: Flooded Lilies

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