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Outdoor Recreation Spots Abound in Greenville, South Carolina

Greenville offers plenty of opportunities to get outside.

By Kevin Litwin on October 18, 2022

Falls Park on the Reedy
Vanzeppelin Aerial / VisitGreenvilleSC

Greenville is a community that invests in outdoor recreation opportunities, with many outdoor experiences and adventures for residents and visitors to try.

Whether your pursuit is hiking, biking, boating, kayaking, canoeing or ziplining, a collection of outdoor parks, greenways, waterways, trail systems, gardens, community centers and bike paths put recreation spots within easy reach. There are more than 400 acres of parkland in the city of Greenville alone.

“Following COVID, things are even busier for our recreation system with people having rediscovered their parks,” says Angie Prosser, former City of Greenville recreation and tourism director. “More people are working from home or on different schedules, so we are seeing an increase of residents walking the trails and using the parks at a higher rate than pre-COVID.”

In 2022, Greenville City Council passed a $10 million Neighborhood Infrastructure Bond to reinvest and upgrade all the parks. “We have some decisions to make, such as adding sturdy shade structures and pickleball courts at some of the parks,” Prosser says.

UNITY PARK
John Byrum

Three Great Attractions

A long-standing Greenville outdoor recreation highlight already in place is 32-acre Falls Park on the Reedy, which has been described as “an oasis within the city.” This postcard-perfect downtown park features inviting trails, manicured gardens, scenic overlooks and beautiful waterfalls.

The area’s most-utilized recreation attraction is Prisma Health Swamp Rabbit Trail, which runs beside the Reedy River on a scenic 22-mile course. The trail includes seven miles managed by the City of Greenville and the other 15 miles overseen by Greenville County. An estimated 500,000 people enjoy Swamp Rabbit Trail each year.

Also in Greenville is Unity Park, the newest addition to the city’s network of urban parks and gardens. The park commemorates the area’s unique history and pays tribute to the movers and shakers who helped make the city what it is today. It was constructed in honor of E.B. Holloway, the first African American postman in Greenville and a civil rights activist.

The hope is that Unity Park will bring together people of all neighborhoods, ages and backgrounds. There are also plans to build affordable housing on the grounds, with a large donation from BMW Manufacturing to help make that happen.

Unity Park
John Byrum

Nature Playscape at Conestee

Another Greenville outdoor attraction is Conestee Nature Preserve, which consists of wetlands and a flood plain as well as zero commercial or residential development, so the Preserve attracts all sorts of wildlife and birds.

“Conestee is a little island of scenic nature amongst the development of Greenville, right off Interstate 85,” says Michael Corley, executive director of the Conestee Nature Preserve. “There are heron nests and river otters and white-tail deer virtually a few steps away once you exit your car in the parking lot.”

The outdoor attraction features 13 miles of hiking trails, with six miles paved and a mile of boardwalk. There are several observation platforms, benches and bridges. The Preserve’s education program alone welcomes about 4,000 young students every year.

“Kids these days aren’t used to going into the woods and exploring – a lot of them are scared at first when they come here,” he says. “But only a few minutes into their visit, they adapt and have a great time, and most of them don’t want to leave after being here two hours.”

Swamp Rabbit Trail
Stephen Stinson
The Swamp Rabbit Trail is a 22-mile multiuse greenway that connects to downtown.

To make the 640-acre Preserve even more fun for kids, a project called Nature Playscape will be constructed in early 2023 for children to enjoy the outdoors that much more.

“Nature Playscape will be a playground without playground equipment, with rocks and vines and water and twigs to build things and have free unstructured play,” Corley says. “It will be designed with areas for very young children all the way up to middle school students. We’ve received great monetary support from the community, with most people knowing what a beautiful natural gem we have right in our own city.”

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