If the creation of Falls Park was the spark that set Greenville on track to become a beloved hometown and vacation destination to thousands, then it’s the GHS Swamp Rabbit Trail that has become the locomotive still pulling us forward today!
About the trail...
The old Carolina, Knoxville and Western Railway line was nicknamed for the large cottontail rabbit that roamed these parts back in the day, and although the tracks have been replaced by a paved trail (and locomotives by runners, walkers and cyclists), the name stuck. The 19.9-mile trail stretches from Travelers Rest to downtown Greenville, with additional sections in Lake Conestee Nature Park and Fountain Inn. There is yet another extension slated for construction starting next January that will connect Cleveland Park and the Verdae development off the Motor Mile, and long-range plans have discussed bringing the trail all the way to Cedar Falls Park. It could be that in the future the entire length of the Reedy River will be covered, and residents would have a multi-use trail connecting the Upstate to the Saluda River!
The north end of the trail
The trail starts in Travelers Rest (often referred to as “TR”), the gateway to the Blue Ridge Mountains. What used to be a sleepy mountain town was transformed with the advent of the Trail into a hub for outdoor adventure. Today, TR is a destination in itself, not just a stop on the way to Caesars Head and Table Rock.
The Swamp Rabbit Trail has become so intertwined with the legend of Greenville that dozens of local businesses have jumped on the train; for example in Travelers Rest you will find the Swamp Rabbit Brewery & Taproom, Swamp Rabbit Inn, Swamp Rabbit Storage and Swamp Rabbit Tees. For ideas on what to do with a day in TR, check out this sample itinerary that includes parks, restaurants and shops all within an easy walking-radius. If your visit falls on a Saturday, be sure to stop by the TR Farmers Market in Trailblazer Park and check out the kids table that features a new activity every week.
Soon after crossing Roe Ford Rd. (and passing mile marker 26) you’ll reach Furman University. A couple of access points allow visitors to connect to the path that circles Swan Lake, and just before Duncan Chapel Road (about MM27.5) you’ll spot the old rail car that marks the location of a public parking lot and rest stop. A detailed description of the Furman-to-TR section of the trail can be found in my post The Swamp Rabbit: From Furman to Travelers Rest.
Just after the intersection of the trail with Sulphur Springs Road you’ll find Swamp Rabbit Station, a pocket park at MM29 with a boxcar and locomotive – a perfect stop for those kids who love everything train-related! Then push on another two miles to reach the Swamp Rabbit Cafe (MM31.5), the Swamp Garden and the outskirts of downtown Greenville. This section of the trail is covered in more detail in my post The Swamp Rabbit: From Falls Park to the Swamp Rabbit Cafe and Grocery.
The SRT in Greenville...
Approaching the Kroc Center you pass Mayberry Park and the old city public works, what in the future will be City Park. This expansive, signature park on the West Side of downtown Greenville is still in the planning phase as the City of Greenville looks to finish moving the current Greenville Public Works operations. Where the Swamp Rabbit Trail turns to pass under South Academy Street, you know you’ve reached the Children’s Garden at Linky Stone Park (MM33.5), a perfect place to stop and rest before entering downtown.
After passing through the brand new River Street underpass you’ll be right alongside the Reedy River all through Falls Park. There are dozens of adventures waiting for you here; from the splash pad that’s a perfect cool down on a hot day to the dozens of trails leading every which way, Falls Park is a highlight of the trail you won’t want to leave!
From Falls Park it’s just a short ride to Cleveland Park, through what will soon be Cancer Survivors Park. Phase II of this new Park’s construction is planned to be concluded this spring, but look for a detour until the bridge over the Reedy is opened to the public. Meanwhile Cleveland Park is an old favorite; the trail passes Maj. Anderson’s memorial F-86 Saber jet fighter plane (MM35), numerous picnic shelters and playgrounds, and spur trails to the Fernwood Nature Trail and Greenville Zoo. For more information on the portion of the trail that runs from Falls Park toward the zoo, please visit my post The Swamp Rabbit: From the Falls to Cleveland Park.
The south end of the trail...
The trail currently stops just north of Greenville Technical College’s main campus, at South Pleasantburg Drive, and resumes north of Lake Conestee Nature Park at Parkins Mill and Mauldin Rd. There are suggested connection routes to take you to Conestee, but they travel busy thoroughfares and aren’t recommended with younger cyclists. However, once you reach Conestee you’ll find an oasis of calm. A spur trail within the park connects the Swamp Rabbit to Conestee Park (where the playground and dog park are), while the main trail winds around with the Reedy River to the historic Conestee Mill and dam. Here you’ll find a parking area and kiosk at the trailhead, mile marker 41, and the terminus of the Swamp Rabbit Trail.
For more information on the Swamp Rabbit Trail, please visit the Greenville County Rec website, and for maps of the trail visit http://greenvillerec.com/swamprabbit/maps/. Happy trails!
This post originally appeared on the Upstate's premier online resource for parents in Greenville County, Kidding Around Greenville.