Outdoor

Marie McAden

SOUTH CAROLINA INSIDER

 

Make tracks on the Swamp Rabbit Trail

Posted 10/13/2011 6:02:00 AM

More than a dozen years after its untimely demise, the ol’ Swamp Rabbit is running through South Carolina's Upcountry once again.

The defunct Carolina, Knoxville and Western Railway — humorously nicknamed after a wetlands version of the cottontail — has been replaced by a paved trail running from Travelers Rest to Greenville.
Runners, walkers, cyclists and skaters now travel on the path once traversed by locomotives and train cars. The popular Swamp Rabbit Trail has become one of the area’s hottest outdoor amenities.

I recently rode the 13.5-mile asphalt pathway up and back from its starting point across from North Greenville Hospital in Travelers Rest to its terminus just north of Greenville Technical College’s main campus. But there are plenty of options available to shorten the ride to your liking.

Wherever you choose to start and stop, you’ll find plenty of benches and gazebos along the way, as well as some terrific trailside restaurants to rest and refuel. Among my favorites is The Café @ Williams Hardware and Leopard Forest Café in Travelers Rest.

In Greenville, you can stop and have lunch at the Overlook Grill by the Reedy River in Falls Park. About halfway between the two cities near Mile Marker 31½ is the Swamp Rabbit Café and Grocery.

Convenient parking for the trail is available at the starting point on U.S. 25. Mile markers posted every half-mile make it easy to keep track of how far you’ve ridden.

After about a mile up the trail, you’ll come to downtown Travelers Rest and its beautifully renovated streetscape featuring a gazebo, park swings and benches. Look for the “Swamp Rabbit” poking up from some bushes near a rock column.

Before long, you’ll reach Furman University. Two access points allow you to connect to a path that runs alongside Furman Lake and the main part of the campus.

If you’re walking or riding with young children, you’ll want to stop at the rest area along the trail with the charcoal-gray painted train car. The main section of the car is closed off, but children are welcome to climb aboard and look out the end of the train.

As you make your way south into Greenville, you’ll come to Falls Park with its meticulously manicured gardens, famed Liberty Bridge and Reedy River Falls. Don’t miss the opportunity to stop here and enjoy the view.

From Falls Park it’s a short ride to Cleveland Park, a recreational wonderland featuring tennis, basketball and volleyball courts, four playgrounds, a dog park, fitness trail and zoo.

You can end your ride here or continue another mile along the Hincapie Path, a multi-use greenway that follows the Reedy River, offering long views of the watershed. The 13-foot wide trail includes eight feet of asphalt and five feet of a rubberized surface for runners and walkers.

Click here to download a map of the Swamp Rabbit Trail or pick up a handy pocket-size trail map at Sunrift Adventure in Travelers Rest.