PICKENS COUNTY — The Sassafras Mountain brick paver donation program, which has raised about $40,000 for the viewing platform on top of South Carolina’s highest point, will officially draw to a close Jan. 1, 2016.
“The brick paver program has been a great one,” said Mark Hall, Jocassee Gorges project leader for the S.C. Department of Natural Resources. “But we’re getting close to breaking ground on the viewing platform, so it’s time to wind it up. In the spirit of the season, these Sassafras bricks would make a very meaningful Christmas present.”
Bricks can be designated in honor or memory of a child, friend, or loved one. This is a unique, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for special recognition on the highest point in South Carolina.
The DNR has gathered a total of about $500,000 in private donations to construct a viewing platform with an unparalleled view of the Blue Ridge Mountains of South Carolina, North Carolina and Georgia. Plans to improve Sassafras Mountain have been in the works for more than two years and the project is closer to fruition.
Architects and engineers have completed preliminary plans for the observation structure that will be built to straddle the peak at 3,553 feet above sea level. Gil L. Stewart Architects LLC of Pickens was chosen to finalize the design and is working on detailed construction documents.
The comprehensive project involves an observation platform at the peak, restrooms, improvements to the parking area, a picnic facility, accessory trails, informational kiosks and educational pavilions.
“Presently we have enough money to get the observation platform and restrooms designed and built,” said Hall. “Once that initial phase is implemented, we will continue with the other plans for trails, parking, and pavilions as we secure additional funds.”
He estimates breaking ground in early 2016.
Duke Energy, The Harry Hampton Memorial Wildlife Fund, The Felburn Foundation and anonymous donors have contributed toward the project. DNR is still seeking major donations to complete the comprehensive improvements on Sassafras Mountain that will be open to the public and provide a special educational opportunity for schoolchildren of all ages.
In addition to being the highest point in South Carolina at 3,553 feet, Sassafras Mountain sits on the state line with North Carolina, is along the Continental Divide, and is one of the important features of the Foothills Trail (www.foothillstrail.org), a 77-mile footpath between Table Rock and Oconee state parks.