river lined with trees on each bank small boulders can be seen under the water
Catawba River as seen from the Catawba Indian Nation Greenway.

Catawba Reservation Field Report

The day’s second stop was the Catawba Reservation in Rock Hill, South Carolina. It took about a half hour to get there. As I moved away from Charlotte and skirted around Rock Hill, the traffic dwindled until I was once again following country roads. After a short detour due to a bridge being out, I arrived at the Catawba Cultural Center.

I knew the Cultural Center was currently closed, but after talking to some folks outside, they said it wouldn’t reopen until October. They’ve been having a hard time getting building materials. But I was here today for the Yehasuri Trail to the Catawba River.

They warned me that I may have to step over some trees as due to COVID and construction at the Cultural Center, the trail hasn’t been maintained as well as normal. They also let me know that if I followed a trail to the left when I got to the river, I would be on the Catawba Indian Nation Greenway. A nature trail running beside the river and eventually passing the tribal government longhouse.

log home with metal roof in the woods
Reproduction of a 19th Century Catawba home along the Yehasuri Trail.

The Yehasuri Trail is an interpretive trail along an old Catawba Indian wagon trail. It runs path a number of exhibits including a replica of a 19th Century Catawba home and a garden. Signs along the way point out trees and plants that were important to the Catawba people and tells how they were used. The trail ends at the Story Circle along the Catawba River.

The trail wasn’t as bad as I had been led to think. There weren’t any trees fallen across the path. It starts off gravel but transitions to earthen path. There are roots and rocks embedded in the path, but no more that you’d find in any natural trail through the woods. It has a slight grade down to the river, so you’ll be walking uphill back. But it’s not much of a grade and it’s classified as an easy trail.

Some of the signage is a bit faded and dirty and the garden exhibit is overgrown, but I’d expect both to be remedied by the time the Cultural Center reopens.

I was also warned about fauna that may cross the trail. All I saw were some squirrels and a white tailed deer running through the woods on my way back.

At the river, I turned to follow the Catawba Indian Nation Greenway. It runs right beside the river, but for this part of the trail, trees block most of the view. It’s shaded and cool just like the Yehasuri Trail and there are benches along the trail. The footpath is level and free of rocks and roots.

two turtles on a partially submerged log in a river. Both turtles are facing each-other.
Turtles sunning themselves in the Catawba River

There’s one spot with some trash just up river from the start of the trail. It’s mostly cans around a fire pit and doesn’t look like it’s been there too long.

The trail crosses a few footbridges and eventually hits a more open area where you can get a good look at the river. It’s here where I finally saw the turtles sunning themselves in the river. I had been hearing them drop in the water the entire route along the river, but it was never clear enough to see them.

clearing in woods leading uphill to a building with large windows that can see down through clearing.
Catawba Longhouse as seen from the river.

The trail runs though a small park along the river with a picnic table and restroom. After the boat ramp, it heads back into the woods. A short time later, I hit an open area and could see the Longhouse up on a hill looking sown towards the river.