Lake Connestee Nature Trail
It seems I wasn’t the only one itching to get out and shoot some photos when our planned outing went belly up due to weather yesterday. Sunday’s weather was perfect, and Alan wanted to take his new Nikon DSLR for a spin. So, we planned to meet somewhere local. There had been an article in the Greenville News about additions to the Lake Connestee Nature Park, so we decided to check them out.
Our plan was to meet at the parking area at the dam, or so I thought. At the appointed time I got a call from Alan saying he was at the entrance to the park. Turns out he was behind the old Braves Stadium, so I headed in that direction. Then, it turned out that there were TWO entrances to the park with large signs that look like this…
Alan was at one, and I was at the other. Through the magic of cell phone technology we got it sorted out, and rendezvoused at the correct trail head.
Turns out that we weren’t the only ones wanting to explore the park. The parking area at the dam was jam packed, and when I got to the stadium park, it was just as crazy. There were several Little League games going on at the new baseball fields, and there were lots of people out exploring the trails.
The trail first took us down to the Reedy River. The river looked wide and navigable at this point, possibly because it’s backing up from the dam. The trail wound along the river, crossing tributary creeks and wetlands on low boardwalks. We could see others on trails on the other side of the river.
Eventually the trail reached a dramatic pedestrian bridge across the river. At the top of the hill was a the other park entrance sign, where I had mistakenly thought Alan might be.
The bridge across the river was higher than I expected, and bouncier. There were lots of folks on crossing the river, and the bridge seemed do bounce with each step. It was a little disconcerting. The views of the river, however, were excellent.
On the other side of the river the trail meanders along the opposite bank. More boardwalks, some taking the form of just a couple of planks, cross low damp areas. There were lush grasses and the area is heavily wooded.
Eventually the trail leads to the old lake bed. An observation deck has been constructed out over the water. The lake itself has long silted in, but there was a massive beaver dam that had raised water levels quite a bite. In the top of a clump of trees we saw a heron on a nest.
I stitched together a panorama of the scene…
A nice couple at the overlook gave us some hints about the rest of the trail. They described another lake overlook back on the other side of the river. We decided to continue on around the trail the way we were going, cross back over the river, then check it out.
The trail ran along the old lake bed, crossing more streams on boardwalks.
We reached a fork in the trail, and we were supposed to head right (east) to get back to the bridge. Instead we turned west to check out a long series of boardwalks across the lake head waters.
A pair of wood ducs (paradux?) played in the water below one boardwalk, and upstream we could see the remains of a previous boardwalk/bridge.
We retraced our steps and were soon back at the Reedy bridge. I had printed out a copy of the park map before heading out, and it looked like we were covering the distances quicker than I had expected. Therefore, even though the afternoon was getting away from us, it didn’t seem like it would be a problem to reach the other lake overlook. There was a short walk over trail we had previously covered, then we were dipping back down to the river, on our way to the overlook.
There were a few more low boardwalks before reaching the overlook. The trail climbed a hill, and at one point a spur branched off to the left. We stayed right, and soon were at the other overlook. It was constructed very much like the last one, but with a view over the main, residual part of Lake Connestee.
Behind the overlook another trail rose steeply to the top of the hill. We decided to check that out. A nice picnic area overlooking the lake and the overlook had been built. This area opened off of a paved trail that ran behind the ball parks.
We were back at our cars in no time. Most of the overlooks are reached easily, and none of the trails seemed strenuous or very long.
Since we had some afternoon light left, we decided to check out the dam area. We drove on back around to the community of Connestee and found a couple of parking places. At this point the trail is paved, and there were lots of cyclists take advantage of the nice weather. Eventually, this paved trail will connect with the Swamp Rabbit Trail, but the connector hasn’t been completed yet.
Alan and I stopped to take a few shots of the old mill and dam area.
Alan had never seen McBee Chapel, and since it was nearby, we decided to head that direction. McBee is a Methodist congregation, and the church is an unusual octagonal brick structure that was built in 1841. A congregation still meets there every Sunday morning.
Thinking back on my church trek from Saturday I took a look around. From McBee I could see eight other churches, all within walking distance from where we were. Talk about a church on every corner!
By now the sun and dipped too low for us to get any more shots. Alan and I said our goodbyes and parted ways until the next outing. Below is the GPS track of our hike…
…and here is a Google map showing the locations:
View Lake Connestee Nature Park in a larger map
And, finally, here is a slide show with all of the photos I took. I’ll update this post with a link to Alan’s photos when he gets them online.