Wednesday, February 5, 2020

Nalley Brown Nature Park

We are blessed to have a large selection of parks and natural areas in the Upstate in which to enjoy the outdoors, from the state and county parks such as Jones Gap and Caesars Head, to our urban public spaces like Lake Conestee Nature Preserve and the Swamp Rabbit Trail. But what about those beautiful days when we don’t have the time to travel all the way up to the Blue Ridge, but want something different from the same-old, same-old? With the approach of spring, the lure of the outdoors will take families on explorations all over the Upstate, bringing the dilemma – where to go today?

A new park has opened near Easley, giving us another option for those days when the mountains are a little too far; Nalley Brown Nature Park. Located at 380 Adger Road, this recently-opened park features almost 3 miles of trail on its 38 acres, and is only 3 miles from downtown Easley!

The park opened last fall, and is many years in the making; Catherine Brown Ladnier donated the land in 2001, but over the past two decades the project stalled more than once and it took a push by the then-mayor of Easley Larry Bagwell to finish it before the end of his term.

Adjacent to the parking area visitors will find a small pavilion, and a play area with a few tunnels and climbing structures (keep in mind there are currently no restrooms). However, the heart of the park is its 2.5 miles of trails; leading through scrub pine and mature hardwoods, the trail network forms two main loops that can be combined for excursions ranging everywhere from a few tenths of a mile to almost three miles. Nalley Trail is the longest trail, and forms an outer loop of just under 1 ½ miles long. An inner loop, Brown Trail, is another 0.85 miles, and a wetlands trail connecting the two loops on the west side of the park adds another tenth of a mile with its boardwalk. Finally, an ADA accessible loop just off the parking area is a tenth of a mile long.

The history of the property bears influence on the forest we see today. The Nalley and Brown families farmed the property and owned it for around 150 years, and from the trail you’ll see reminders of the old farmstead: abandoned car parts here, old farming supplies there. Damage from long-ago farming practices still scar the land, heavily eroded ravines showing the result of bad farming practices, as well as more recent harm – the dumping of trash into these gullies. On the other hand, the mature beech-oak forest has towering hardwoods over a hundred years old, and the softwoods forest has its own charm with the smell of pine and the thick canopy of pine needles. The wetlands trail brings visitors down to a tributary of Eighteenmile Creek whose waters eventually flow into Lake Hartwell, and mosses and ferns line the sides of the ravines while the occasional wildflower bring spots of color to the forest floor. Bring a picnic to enjoy under the beautiful pavilion, or head to Easley afterwards; kids love the “Train on Main” scavenger hunt, and adults might enjoy a stop at Ninja Warrior Coffee House to refuel and local grocery and natural market Farmacy to pick up last-minute groceries for dinner.

Nalley Brown Nature Park is a welcome addition to the natural spaces of the Upstate, providing a hiking option close to home for those living west of Greenville as well as a way for people to get outdoors in what is becoming an increasingly-urban landscape. We hope to see additional improvements (such as restroom facilities and educational signage) in the near future, and look forward to seeing what the change of the seasons brings in this new park.

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