Monday, July 24, 2017

The Swamp Rabbit – from Furman to the Swamp Rabbit Café

It was a sunny day, albeit without the heat that has plagued the Upstate for the last month. We loaded up the bicycles and headed north to Furman with the goal of hopping on the Swamp Rabbit Trail for the day. Our goal was to bike the 4 miles from the south end of the Furman campus all the way to the Swamp Rabbit Café & Grocery (SRC&G), eat lunch, rest, and then make the return trip - for a total of 8 miles.

There is parking at both ends of this section of trail, though the dirt lot off Duncan Chapel Rd. is on the small side when compared to the extensive trail parking available at SRC&G. If the lot is full, try the visitor parking lot at the Trone Student Center on Swan Lake – it’s just another ½ mile north. While we unpacked the bikes the boys explored, admiring the old rail car to the side of the trail that pays homage to the trail’s origins as a rail line connecting Greenville with Travelers Rest. The trailhead also features a convenient map, water fountain and vending machines. 

For more on Furman and Swan Lake, please visit my post A Lake Hike at Furman University

Headed south you'll pass milepost 27.5, a small clearing with a picnic table, and then milepost 28 before coming to Watkins Bridge Road. Here the trail meets up with the Reedy River, mostly staying within a stone’s throw all the way to the southern terminus in Lake Conestee Nature Park. After crossing Watkins Bridge Road it’s smooth sailing; a straight, level, shaded cruise until you hit milepost 28.5 where the trail gets a lot more urban, with backyards and power lines paralleling the path. Right before crossing Little Creek there is a little wooden structure on the trail, providing room to pull off for some shade and a view of a small meadow.

After the Little Creek bridge there’s another pull-out, this one with concrete benches, a table and some rose bushes to sweeten the ride.

Milepost 29 marks the beginning of a not-so-scenic stretch, industrial/automotive businesses and fences on both sides. However not too much further and you’ll spot the green boxcar of Swamp Rabbit Station and you’ll know you’re halfway to SRC&G. I was happy to see that the pocket park is coming along – the Berea Community Mural Project dedicated “Looking Back” this past May.

For more on this pocket park, please visit my post Swamp Rabbit Station

The next portion parallels power lines and has less shade, but is pleasantly green and has various trees and shrubs planted alongside that will eventually help cool down cyclists. We cruised past the 29.5 milepost and before we knew it were back in the woods. The next mile is pleasant enough, shade and woods to both sides; we hit milepost 30, then 30.5.

Immediately after crossing Langston Creek the trail intersects with W. Blue Ridge Drive. We walk our bikes across all the road crossings on this section of the SRT as they involve wide roads that see quite a bit off traffic, but luckily there aren’t all that many roads to cross…

The last ¾ of a mile (from W Blue Ridge to Cedar Lane Rd.) passes by quickly. More power lines, then another short wooded section, with a Swamp Rabbit Grocery sign and then milepost 31 to let you know you’re almost there. The Reedy River has been to the right ever since crossing Watkins Bridge Road, but here you’ll cross over to the other side of the river, emerging to a large grassy area and an abandoned warehouse. It’s advised to decrease your speed as you maneuver the trail under Cedar Lane Road, but upon emerging on the other side you’ll see the Swamp Rabbit Café and Grocery to your right.

In addition to a map, bicycle racks and restrooms, SRC&G is home to the Swamp Garden (an excellent natural play area for the kiddos), the new storage-container-turned-pizza-place, and of course the restaurant and grocery. The opportunity to purchase a refreshing King of Pops or enjoy a locally sourced lunch is definitely one of the benefits of cycling this section of the Swamp Rabbit Trail. Other positive aspects: there’s relatively low traffic on this section and it’s pretty level in elevation. Two drawbacks to this portion of the trail are the road crossings and the slightly monotonous scenery. Having rested, consumed a Swamp Pizza, and played in the Swamp Garden, we hopped back on our bikes and hit the trail north, back to Furman.

Related posts:

Crossing the Reedy River Bridge

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