Let’s get to the point: When will the trail be repaved? Glad you asked! On Sept. 28, the Greenville County Parks, Recreation and Tourism department will begin to repave the 8.5 miles from Willard Street in Greenville to Sunrift Adventures in Travelers Rest. A four-person repaving crew is now the full-time trail maintenance crew as of this year’s county budget cycle, a sign of continued trail commitment by Greenville County Council. The crew will use a 10-foot-wide asphalt repaving machine, and portions of the trail will be closed intermittently.
Who maintains the rest? The Prisma Health Swamp Rabbit Trail is a network of 22 miles. Some portions of the trail are maintained by the jurisdictions in which they reside.
How many users are on the trail? In 2015, Furman University professor Julian Reed concluded a four-year study on ridership. A great lesson for trail planners: If you want bikes to count, you need to count bikes. So he did. Over 16 observation days, and adjusted for seasonability, there were 21,663 users. With this data, it is estimated 500,000 used the trail in 2015. If you are a local elected official anywhere in the United States who wants to be reelected, you are advocating for a healthy community, and that includes neighborhoods with access to trails.
How are the businesses that are impacted by the trail doing? “As much as the trail was to improve the public health of the Upstate, equally as impressive has been the economic success of the trail,” Reed notes. “That was always the plan during early discussions. Clearly it has been successful both from an economic development and health standpoint.”
There are a growing number of businesses on the trail as well as those that support trail usage. Bike rental business Reedy Rides is celebrating its 10th anniversary this month! (Congratulations, y’all!) Owner Jamie McDonough has noticed a shift in customers to more locals. “With people wanting to get outside and social distance, biking has become popular,” she says. “There are people in the area who have never done the trail, and once they do, they are hooked.”
Any kind of bike, including ones with kiddie trailers, may be rented for full- or half-day rates. Business has been growing steadily despite being shut down during the March and April lockdown. Other bike rental businesses include FreeHub Bicycles, Sunrift Adventures, Swamp Rabbit Trail Bike Shop, Trek and Carolina Triathlon.
What about trail closures? There will be portions of the trail closed during the repaving. The county team will work around the only fall event planned for the trail, the Ville to Ville Craft Brew Relay on Nov. 7. This run consists of 240 teams of runners. The race directors have carefully planned the new 62-mile route and are confident they can spread out the runners and have the necessary approvals for an event larger than 250 people. The route on the trail portion will be from Tate Road (at the top) to the starting and finish lines at Hampton Station. While this race is sold out, you can visit craftbrew.villetovillerelay.com to register for the next one. There are 100 team spots left for the April 2021 relay.
What about the Greenline trail? The next large expansion of the Swamp Rabbit Trail from Cleveland Park to Millennium Boulevard — parallel to Laurens Road — is still under design construction and scheduled to open in December 2022, according to Greenville County Trails and Greenways Director Ty Houck. This spur — the Greenline — runs less than 4.5 miles from Verdae Boulevard to the Greenville Zoo. There are three bridges planned: over Verdae Boulevard, Haywood Road and Laurens Road. The design includes a safe crossing at Airport Road.
To find out about the repaving schedule and general trail updates, text swamprabbit to 99000.
Amy Ryberg Doyle served for 12 years on Greenville City Council. She is married and has four children. An outdoors enthusiast, she likes to bike, swim and run, but not all in that order. She power-naps daily.