It had been quite awhile since I had ridden my bike on the Swamp Rabbit Trail. In that time there have been quite a few changes and improvements. The trail has been paved from Watkins Bridge Road almost all the way up to the Renfrew community above Travelers Rest. The town of Travelers Rest has done massive improvements along its main street, adding parking, lighting, sidewalks, and benches all along the street and the trail. I figured it was time I rode the trail once more and experienced some of these changes for myself.
I parked at the southern edge of the Furman University campus, where the trail crosses Duncan Chapel Road. For ages there has been an old Pullman car here that has served as home for various Boy Scout Troops. More parking has been added to accommodate the trail visitors.
From the parking area I first headed south just to see how far the county had gotten with paving the trail. I was able to make it about a mile more, down to Watkins Bridge Road. The trail on the other side of the road was dirt, but didn’t look as rough and bumpy as the last time I had ridden it. I rode on down a bit, but decided that I had plenty of paved trail to explore, so I turned around.
Headed back north I retraced the route. This little section is very swampy with the recent rains. It’s obvious how the original railroad got its name. I crossed back into Furman and continued along the campus section of the trail.
I can remember trains using this segment of the track when I was at Furman. Several industries, such as the old W. R. Grace plant and others along the route still used the track to get goods into town. Most of those industries are now gone, and those remaining have shifted to road transportation. The section through Furman has two access points from the back side of the lake. I could also see part of the new disc golf course from the trail.
The Furman section ends at the Old Roe Ford Road crossing. Part of the walking trail along the backside of Furman’s lake can be seen. However, the most prominent landmark is the new retirement community, The Woodlands of Furman.
On the other side of Old Roe Ford Road the pavement gives out as the trail passes through the W. R. Grace property. Furman has acquired this property, but it’s a Superfund site, and requires clean-up. Once the buildings are removed paving can continue along this sections. I tend to thing that the old buildings are cool, and can be very photogenic.
Just on the other side of the W. R. Grace property the trail pavement begins again, as the trail passes under the Highway 25 overpass. Beyond that there is a gentle incline and a couple more road crossings along the couple of miles up to Travelers Rest.
Upon entering Travelers Rest one immediately sees the improvements that the town is making. There are stairs down to the trail, interesting street lighting, and benches along the way.
In the middle of town there is a gazebo and a place to rent bicycles. Our friends Nancy and Joyce McCarrell own the Cafe at Williams Hardware with porches that overlook the trail.
Just past the cafe, the trail crosses Main Street and continues northward past Sunrift Adventures.
The trail continues to parallel Highway 276, and extends beyond Travelers Rest until it reaches the North Greenville Hospital. Beyond this point the old railroad bed is on private property that has been developed. I don’t know if it would even be possible to extend the trail further.
It seemed like the traffic really picked up on the trail in the time I had been riding. There were lots of folks out on the trail on the ride back. However, soon I was back at the truck and packing up.
I decided to explore some of the other areas where the trail crossed roads – places that hadn’t been opened quite yet. Some of these stretches were ones I had ridden early. However, they now had No Tresspassing signs. I saw some active construction on the trail, and understand that they want to keep people out of dangerous construction zones.
I finally found one more crossing on Old Bleachery Road closer into town. My friend Leonard Brown owns Advanced Media Systems, and the trail route runs right behind his business. However, some of the other neighborhoods that the trail crosses are a bit scary. It will be interesting to see how the trail changes things in these areas, if at all.
All-in-all it was a great day out on the trail. Things are progressing, and there is enough of the Swamp Rabbit Trail completed to make for an enjoyable ride. Here are all of the images from that trip in a slideshow: