An easy hike, the mile-long Bear Trail offers students just the right challenge. Much of the trail passes through a “man-made” forest community created by Duke Energy upon completion of the Bad Creek Pumped Storage Hydroelectric Project in 1991. This conservation planning was part of Duke Energy’s original Bad Creek project.

During plant construction, Bear Trail was part of a major work area. Some of the earth removed during construction was placed along the trail’s path, forming a hill now covered by sawtooth oaks and other vegetation.

Duke Energy environmentalists selected sawtooth oaks for this “reclamation area” because of the large number of acorns the trees produce each fall, providing an ideal food source for area wildlife.

Bad Creek Outdoor Classroom Brochure

Eagle Trail is a short quarter-mile hike through a mature South Carolina mountain forest. Trees, shrubs and wildflowers along the trail are common to the area. More than a dozen trees measure over 100 feet in height and 4 feet in diameter, creating a towering canopy.

Mountain forests such as this help stabilize the soil, prevent erosion and protect trout streams. In addition to their scenic beauty, forests provide a food source for deer, turkey, ruffed grouse, black bear and other species.

Bad Creek Outdoor Classroom Brochure

With open sides and a roof for protection from the elements, the Outdoor Classroom creates a perfect outdoor experience. Teachers can use the classroom for lectures and demonstrations before taking their class on an easy hike along the trails.

The open classroom includes a whiteboard and six oversized picnic tables and benches where students can participate in lectures. Supplies including bottled water, pencils, paper, binoculars and collection equipment are stored there, as well.

Bad Creek Outdoor Classroom Brochure

What better way for a student to experience nature than spending time in the outdoors. Along the Bear and Eagle trails, special features have been added to enhance the student’s experience.

Insect shelters consisting of a hinged board allow students to lift and view insects in a natural setting. Vernal ponds, which receive no stream inflow, provide water for local wildlife.

Butterflies appear in the spring and can be observed until the fall. A butterfly garden near the Outdoor Classroom includes several plant species attractive to butterflies as places to lay their eggs or as a food source. Several butterfly varieties can be observed in the garden.

Feeding stations along the trails attract local wildlife that leave behind tracks and other signs of their visits. Students use a field guide to identify tracks, as well as tree and flora species.

With special instruments available in the Outdoor Classroom, students can measure the temperature and barometric pressure, identify cloud formations and gather other information related to the weather.

Bad Creek Outdoor Classroom Brochure

Bad Creek hydro

Within a short distance of the Outdoor Classroom is the Bad Creek Pumped Storage Hydroelectric Station. This 1,065-megawatt facility is located in Oconee County, 8 miles north of Salem, S.C. The four-unit station, which began generating electricity in 1991, is the largest hydroelectric station on the Duke Energy system.

Bad Creek has the unique ability to operate in either generation or pumping mode. In generation mode, water held in an upper reservoir flows by gravity through a turbine generator, producing electricity before emptying into a lower reservoir (Lake Jocassee) – just like a conventional hydroelectric station.

In pumping mode, excess electricity available during low-demand periods spins the turbine generators in reverse. Water from the lower reservoir is pumped back to the upper reservoir for reuse in the generation mode.
@ Sign up for email