Monday, June 19, 2017

The Swamp Rabbit - from Greenville Tech to Cleveland Park

The rebirth/revitalization of Greenville was triggered by: investment into its downtown, the restoration of Falls Park, and the creation of the Swamp Rabbit Trail – a 22 mile multi-use greenway trail system that connects Greenville with Travelers Rest to the north. Utilizing an old rail corridor, city parks and the Reedy River, the SRT might one day stretch all the way to Cedar Falls. Currently the trail is missing a key section that would connect Greenville Technical College’s campus to Conestee, as the City of Greenville and the Greenville Country Club have failed to come to an agreement to fill in the gap. However plans are moving ahead for connectors and spur trails (such as the Cleveland Park-CU ICAR extension) which means the start of a new chapter of SRT history in the coming years.

Falls Park, the heart of the Swamp Rabbit Trail, is a convenient halfway point for an excursion on the Swamp Rabbit; there are plenty of places to picnic (or restaurants to sample) before making your way back south. From the “end of trail” sign at the intersection of Winterberry Court & Cleveland Street to Falls Park is 3.5 miles, making for a 7-mile round trip. I go into more depth on the portion of the ride between the Falls and Cleveland Park in my post The Swamp Rabbit: From the Falls to Cleveland Park, therefore in this post I’ll concentrate on the two miles from Greenville Tech to Cleveland Park.

Possibly the most urban section of the Swamp Rabbit Trail, this stretch follows E. Faris and Cleveland Street for more than half of its 2 miles. We started north on Cleveland Street with heavy traffic whizzing by and no shade from the sun, passing apartment buildings, businesses, parking lots, milepost 37 and what might be an electric substation overgrown in brambles. The stretch along Greenville Tech’s campus is a lot nicer, and could possibly provide a good parking area for jumping on this section of the trail.

The C. Dan Joyner bridge across the Reedy marks the campus boundary, and from there it is a slight climb up to E. Faris St. Here the trail crosses the busy intersection before turning east for the descent back down to Reedy River. Once you’ve made the turn north to parallel the Reedy, the rest of the way to downtown is smooth sailing in the peaceful nature of the river corridor.

The one mile section of the SRT between First Baptist and Cleveland Park is named the Hincapie Path in recognition of the contributions that George Hincapie has made to the cycling and business communities in South Carolina. It follows the Reedy River for its entirety; a nice, shaded segment that is significantly less-traveled than the Cleveland Park portion. It isn’t unusual to see a snake on the trail during the spring and summer months, although kudzu and poison ivy are rather plentiful in places.

Soon after milepost 36 you’ll pass the entrance to the Sliding Rock Creek Trail spur. If you take this detour you’ll first cross the Reedy on Jeanne Lenhardt Memorial Bridge, then Alameda Street, and finally enter Green Forest Park and make a steady climb up towards Sterling School and Nicholtown Green at Heritage. A project of United Way of Greenville County, this “Born Learning Trail” features activities to complete with young children, complete with signpost suggestions on how to turn everyday moments into learning moments. Sadly the trail maintenance on this spur was lacking; the signs are showing their age, and in more than one place there were trees down on the trail. The highlights of Sliding Rock Creek Trail are the water station, picnic tables and art installation on the east shore of the Reedy River.

The Nicholtown "Theater of Play" was built by Clemson architecture students

The next spur trail you'll encounter leads up to Cleveland Street and Caine Halter Family YMCA. There are often teams competing in various sports up on the fields above the river, while multiple seating areas along the trail provide shady spots to rest and hydrate.

View of YMCA fields from SRT spur trail

After crossing the Reedy River once again, you’ll pass the spur trail that connects to Baxter Street. Meanwhile, on the opposite side of the Reedy from the trail is the former Cleveland Park stables property; donated to the City of Greenville a few years ago, it will become an extension of Cleveland Park in the coming years. The Swamp Rabbit Trail crosses Woodland Way and enters Cleveland Park.

Cleveland Park - looking back on Woodland Way

From the Woodland Way entrance of Cleveland Park it is another mile to Cancer Survivor’s Park, and then another ½ mile to the waterfall in Falls Park. Or you can head to Greenville Zoo from the SRT in Cleveland Park by taking the Richland Creek spur (at milepost 35); plans to extend the trail from the zoo to CU-ICAR are moving forward and will eventually be a vital link in the Swamp Rabbit Trail system. On a hot summer day we’ll continue to Falls Park and make a stop at Spill the Beans for ice cream, or cool off at the splash pad by Papi’s Tacos before starting the return trek to Greenville Tech. Or, you could choose to continue on to Swamp Rabbit Café & Grocery and beyond… luckily you have 22 miles of trail to explore!

For my complete guide to the Swamp Rabbit Trail, click here.
For the section from Cleveland Park to Falls Park, see my post From the Falls to Cleveland Park, and the next section (to SRC&G) is covered in my article From Falls Park to the Swamp Rabbit Cafe and Grocery.

See you on the Trail!

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