Wednesday, March 28, 2018
It’s easy to hit the trails in the Hub City.
Leave job stress and that pile of laundry behind and head to Spartanburg, South Carolina, for some refreshing outdoor fun. Opportunities for adventure abound, whether you prefer to be on foot, in a kayak, on a bike, or on horseback. Here are six popular places to breathe fresh air and get your heart pumping in the Hub City, whether you plan to keep your shirt clean or splatter it with mud.
Croft State Park sprawls 7,054 acres, making it one of South Carolina’s largest state parks. Once a World War II Army training base, it’s just five miles from downtown Spartanburg. Explore its wooded rolling hillsides on foot, bike or horseback. Hikers are welcome on any trail, though one 2.5-mile trail is exclusive to foot traffic. There are more than 20 miles of mountain biking trails, including the park’s longest trail. Bring your own horse to explore the more than 20 miles of equestrian trails; horse stalls and a show ring are available for rent. Fish or paddle Lake Johnson and Lake Craig; canoes, kayaks and Jon boats can be rented. A playground, three picnic shelters, and 50 campsites for RVs or tents are also on site. A shooting range supervised by the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources is located just outside the park gate; it offers 100- and 200-yard rifle ranges, a 25-yard pistol range, and two archery stands.
Duncan Park sits in the midst of one of Spartanburg’s oldest neighborhoods and is home to Duncan Park Baseball Stadium, the oldest ballpark in South Carolina and one of the oldest wooden grandstand baseball stadiums in the U.S. The 102.5-acre community park also houses two Little League ball fields, tennis courts, a playground, a lake, picnic areas, and amphitheater for special events throughout the year including a concert series showcasing local musicians. A paved walking trail and non-paved trails are open to bikers, runners and hikers. The six-mile off-road mountain bike trail system of short loops was designed to leverage the benefits of gravity to help bikers maintain momentum.
Edwin M. Griffin Nature Preserve is just minutes from downtown on the city’s east side and is one of Spartanburg’s most popular greenspaces. Meandering through 115-acres along the banks of Lawson’s Fork Creek is the five-mile Cottonwood Trail, the first project of the Spartanburg Area Conservancy, a non-profit that helps protect and preserve natural areas throughout Spartanburg. A 550-foot long boardwalk and observation deck overlook 20 acres of wetlands—perfect if your goal is to watch birds, photograph nature, or simply escape the hustle. More than 50 different species of trees create a canopy that helps protect walkers, runners, hikers and bikers from the sun along the trail.
Hatcher Garden and Woodland Preserve feels like the Hub City’s ten-acre secret garden, bursting with flowers, shrubs and trees. A respite for birds and the people who love them, this free public garden was founded in 1969 and is open during daylight hours. Walk along a series of trails as well as paved quarter- and half-mile paths that are both wheelchair accessible. Bring a picnic. Sniff blooms. Sketch the reflective pond or photograph the 10-foot waterfall. Explore at your own pace.
Mary Black Rail Trail currently measures about two miles, but will eventually become the 12-mile Hub City Connector that will be part of the 425-mile Palmetto Trail across South Carolina. Flat and smooth, the paved Rail Trail repurposes tracks formerly used by the first train that came through Spartanburg in 1859, known as the Norfolk Southern rail line and originally called the Spartanburg-Union Railroad. It passes through an industrial area with restaurants, shops, a YMCA, and a skate park. Come walk, jog, skate, bike, or walk your dog. The Rail Tail Dog Park, the city’s first dog park, welcomes large and small dogs with benches for people nearby.
Tyger River Park, located in historic Reidville, is the state’s premier baseball and softball tournament facility with 13 youth baseball/softball fields. It’s also home to batting cages, a clubhouse, large playground, a splash pad, a 1.25-mile walking trail with outdoor fitness challenges along the way, and an 18-hole disc golf course with open and wooded holes. Come to play ball or just play.
Spartanburg was voted the first bicycle-friendly community in the state of South Carolina by the League of American Bicyclists. Roads and trails for cyclists abound. Bring your own bike or rent one of the readily-available B-Cycles to pedal around Spartanburg for the day. The Hub City had the first set-up of B-Cycles in the Southeast and now boasts five stations with a total of 39 bikes. Contact the Spartanburg Convention & Visitors Bureau for maps and information.
For help planning your visit to Spartanburg, South Carolina, explore VisitSpartanburg.com or call 864-594-5000.