Meet Some Trail Users
We love trails of all sorts here at Partners for Active Living. Offering the opportunity to get outside and be active, commune with the natural world and recharge our battereis, trails provide recreational facilities for virtually all users. Below are profiles of some of our favorite trail users.
Luke Perkins and his wife, Alix Refshauge, moved back to her hometown of Spartanburg in June 2016 after living in San Diego for 7 years with the goal to be closer to family with a growing young family of our own.
I work from home and travel so have the flexibility and luxury of enjoying the trails at different times of day during the week: running the Cottonwood, cycling the Mary Black or mountain biking at Croft.
1. That do you like about Spartanburg’s trails? I love seeing the variety and consistency of people using the trails. In particular on the Mary Black Trail there are folks out for early morning dog walks, college runners, social power walkers and a few bikers. Being out there regularly myself it's fun seeing the same people at about the same times knowing it's a part of their daily routine. I feel like there's a subculture of trail users that are part of a community of people that appreciate and take advantage of this resource.
2. What is your favorite trail and why? If you'd asked me this question 6 months ago (when we moved back to Spartanburg), I would have said the Cottonwood Trail, which is a gem of outdoor fun - great for a casual hike, an urban mountain bike ride, sitting by the river or checking out some art. Today my answer is the Mary Black Trail because of how's it's become a foundational part of my daily life. Thanks to this path into downtown I can hop on my bike to take my 2-year old son to his school at the Advent, pop over to get groceries at the Hub City Coop, grab some schwag at the Local Hiker, a snack at the Coffee Bar and Cakehead or hang out at whatever cool event the guys at Hub-Bub have concocted. The investment into and burgeoning success of local/small businesses downtown is very exciting and the MBT helps me fulfill my goal of being a part of this community and getting in the car as little as possible.
3. What do you hope to see in the future for Spartanburg’s trails? I'm very excited about the long term goal of connecting the Cottonwood to Drayton Mill to Glendale, but seemingly closer in the future and I think even more important is the further development of the Mary Black Trail, in particular the extension into downtown. It's a little sketchy getting from the current endpoint at Henry St over to Main St. The planned extension will make the access safer and easier and hopefully encourage more folks to use the trail as a pathway for commuting and/or a jaunt into the city for lunch or shopping on bike or foot. Additionally, the Rail Trail Park at Forest Ave has the potential of bringing more folks out to the southern end of the trail, potentially creating business opportunities in the old warehouses and vacant lots alongside the trail: I'm thinking ice cream shop, beer garden, sandwiches, etc. (There's already a great spot for coffee at Little River Roasting!) I'm looking forward to putting our own spin on how trails can be the artery that feeds healthy living, progressive local businesses and a connected community! And I hope to see y'all out there.
Tony McAbee, Building Maintenance Manager, City of Spartanburg
Tony is currently training for the Assault on Mount Mitchell next May. Tony says he’s been active pretty much all his life, but decided to focus on cycling when he hurt his knee. So in April of this year, he got out his one-speed cruiser and did his longest ride ever—11.46 miles. Since then, as of this past Monday morning when he rode 21 miles before sun up, he has ridden 4160 miles mostly on a road bike he borrowed from his son. He plans to buy a new bike to ride in the Assault on Mount Mitchell.
Favorite ride: The Greenville Watershed ride that passes Poinsett Bridge and goes around the North Saluda Reservoir in Greenville County. Tony says he likes to ride because he finds new places to visit with his wife and dog.
Why I ride: It’s fun for me. I’m 53 years old, and [my bike] is like a brand new toy. I wasn’t looking to cut weight because I’ve always been active, but I’m logging these miles and eating anything I want and my cholesterol has gone down. For me, wearing my clothes, making me look good, making me feel good, I’ve got a son in medical school. I’ve got a lot to live for and I’ve just inherited a bunch of new cycling friends. I’ve been encouraging others I see to ride. Don’t ever say you can’t.
Larry and Kerry Easler are members of the Upstate South Carolina GeoCachers Association. In fact, some say they ARE the Upstate South Carolina Geocachers Association. They organize events, help communities set up cache trails, and generally represent the geocaching community with vigor, enthusiasm and passion.
1. How do you use our trails in Spartanburg? We are avid geocachers and enjoy exploring the trails throughout the County. The scenery is different on each trail and the photography opportunities are incredible. Naturally we are always looking for geocaches that others may have hidden out on the trails.
2. What is your favorite trail? We enjoy them all, for various reasons. Some take us on heart-thumping hill-climbs and others are nice sauntering strolls through wet lands and creek beds. You can see beavers, ducks and other interesting animals along the trails at Duncan Park and on the Cottonwood Trail. Along the Tyger-10 trail you see many different varieties of birds feeding along the river below historic Nesbit Shoals. One of our favorite trails is part of the Palmetto Trail spur at USC-Upstate. It is one of the first trails we explored in the area and we initially went there to find a geocache hidden on the trail near the creek. While on the trail, we passed through a large patch of blackberries and have made a point to return every summer for a hike that ends with a few berries as a snack.
3. What do you hope to see as our trail system expands? Spartanburg's trails are a great way for anyone to explore the outdoors, no matter what their interest. We would love to see more trails throughout the county to help encourage people to get outdoors without it being necessary to travel too far from home. We would also like to add geocaches along the trails to give other geocachers in Spartanburg and the surrounding counties an extra reason to come explore our town.
Shirley Burgess started walking as a way to recover from hip surgery. She definitely got the bug, and now she walks 40 to 50 miles per week, mostly on the Wadsworth Trail.
How do I use the Wadsworth Trail? I use it every day (even in pouring rain). I power walk with my i-Pod playing 70s music. I've used the Trail since I was given clearance by my doctor following a hip replacement 8 years ago. I started with half a mile and worked up to the 6-8 miles I do every weekend - using both parts - the Trail all the way to Magnolia Plantation almost at Highway 29 and then down to the end of Caldwell and back. During the week I use the Caldwell Road part of the Trail. I've used it to get up my stamina for the Cooper River Bridge 10K which I've done for the past 6 years - and last year I roamed the Trail for hours on end getting up the courage to do my first half-marathon.
What do I like best? I've made so many friends from dog-walkers, other walkers and runners, strollers, cyclists, golf cart drivers - the Trail has the friendliest travelers and many faces I see over and over again and everyone waves and smiles. It's been fun to watch the homes being built and the Trail developing character as it ages and becomes part of the communities it serves.
To someone just learning the Trail - enjoy the beauty and the people. I often think of the five senses we have been given - and every one of them is blessed mightily if you "smell the roses" - enjoy the wonderful horse pastures at the far end, the sunflowers peeking over the wooden fence half way down, the pampas grasses flowing in the wind, the beautiful flowerbeds planted by loving homeowners at the entrances to the different developments, the comfy bench half way up the hill towards Hawk Creek. Birds, rabbits, chipmunks are everywhere, the smell of grass being freshly mowed - I love "my" Trail - as I know do all my fellow travelers.
Seth Novak, an avid backpacker and runner, started running when he finally got up the nerve to ask his next-door neighbor if he could accompany the neighbor on a long trail run.Several years later, Novak has run several ultra-marathons and is the race director for the wildly popular Camp Croft Half Marathon, held the second Saturday in November.
(photo by Carroll Foster)
1. The trails in Spartanburg are the perfect place to escape the stresses of everyday life and commune with nature. I love to spend time with family and friends during runs or hikes through our beautiful pathways. Even on a short hike, the diversity of plant life and geography in our area is amazing.
2. My favorite trails are the Cottonwood Trail behind Spartanburg High School and any of the trails at Croft State Park. The Cottonwood Trail provides an easy non technical surface that is great for beginner mountain bikers or runners, or anyone out for a nice easy stroll. Croft State Park has much more variety in its trails.....in both technicality and distance. It would not be difficult for one to spend an entire day at the park and not repeat the same trails.
3. What I would love to see develop in Spartanburg is a bit more connectivity in our trail systems. I have heard about some plans to connect the Cottonwood Trail to Glendale Shoals and think that this project would be amazing. Also, a safer bike route between the Rail Trail and Croft State Park would be great. Any of these methods of getting folks TO the trails without having to drive would be great. Overall, I think for a city of Spartanburg's size, we have an incredible trail system.
Bruce and Julie Dell are equestrians and members of the Friends of Croft State Park, a group that advocates for the park, works to increase usage, and supports trail maintenance through funding and volunteering. Find out more about the Friends of Croft on their Facebook page.
1. What trails do you use most? When we first moved here and lived in the city, we would use the Cottonwood Trail to walk our dog, and loved the opportunity to be outdoors and close to nature. Bruce cycled during that time and rode a lot at Southside and Croft State Park. Now that we have a horse farm and are retired, we trailer to Croft every chance we get to ride horses.
2. What is/are your favorite trail/s? [The Croft State Park staff] have done a tremendous job on the trails at Croft and still are working to improve them. A lot of the trails are multi-use for equestrians, hikers and joggers so we feel very fortunate to have over 7,000 acres practically in our backyard to enjoy.
3. What would you like to see happen with Spartanburg trails? We would love to see them utilize the area of McFadden Road [the old swimming pool site at Croft State Park] and make it available for people who want to camp there. I know their vision is to one day have cabins there for rental, but they could be making money right now by renting it out to people who want to camp who have their own camping trailers or tents. I also wish they would consider leasing it to groups for special occasions for a day or weekend. That is our biggest hope for Croft State Park, and for them to continue to improve the existing trails and make new ones for everyone to enjoy.
Monique Watson and Stan Williams became friends when they started working out together at the CC Woodson Community Center. According to Stan, they get each other out and push each other sometimes. Monique serves on the City of Spartanburg’s Bicycle and Pedestrian Commission.
1. What trail(s) do you use, and how (walk/run/bike)?
MBF Rail Trail, Cottonwood, Duncan Park: We walk, run, rollerblade, bike.
Monique: We also use it for transportation to and from school. The Rail Trail is great because it cuts that stress of using the sidewalk. There’s not enough of a buffer on the streets, and it’s awesome to be able to walk or let our children ride their bikes without fear that they’ll ride into the street or cars will hop the curb.
Stan: And it’s clean—we need to figure out ways to help keep the streets more clean.
2. What do you like most about Spartanburg's trails?
Stan: At Cottonwood: I like the variety. You can come from a regular wooded area along the stream and then into the wetland, and then the “petrified forest” with downed trees, lots of wildlife—Monique: nature at its best. It feels like you’re way out, but you’re right there.
Monique: For the RT, it’s an excellent trail for beginners for walking and biking—it’s flat, relatively safe, with lots of users. Kids can use it without concern except at the intersections. They’re free to ride for a good distance without you being right there with them. That’s gives them some freedom, and also lets them learn some road safety at the intersections.
3. What would you like to see as the trail system expands?
Monique: More trails towards the westside that are safe and kid friendly. More bike and pedestrian friendly walkways.
Stan: More scenic trails that have nice level parts, but also with some trails that allow for some adventures.
Jack Todd has been running for (mumble mumble) years. He has run in countless local, regional and national races, and has served as a guide runner for blind athletes. He has directed the Spartanburg Eye-Opener, a cross country meet held each year in Spartanburg that features thousands of high school and college runners.
Jack Todd (in yellow) with the Big Dog Running Club on Cottonwood Trail
1. How do you use trails in Spartanburg?
I incorporate segments of Cottonwood Trail virtually every day during my training runs. I feel the softer surface that this trail provides has increased the longevity of my running. The cross country and track teams at Spartanburg High School (where I coach) also frequently use these trails. Off road running is safer, reduces injuries and adds variety to our training. We have also found the shade and cooling effect of Lawsons Fork Creek provide for cooler conditions for our summer runs. The same trees that provide shade in the summer, offer a break from winter’s bone chilling winds.
2. What is your favorite trail?
My favorite trails are those within the Edwin M Griffin Nature Preserve, specifically Cottonwood and Highlands. I especially enjoy running these trails ‘at first light’. I’ve seen as many as a dozen deer while running early in the morning. The deer are especially prevalent on Highlands during the fall and winter. In the past, I have also enjoyed the trails in Croft State Park. For many years we would have Sunday morning runs beginning at my house which would traverse through the park.
3. What do you hope to see for trails in Spartanburg’s future?
Extensions of Cottonwood (both upstream and downstream) and the Mary Black Rail Trail would be awesome. Connecting these two trails would increase the walkability of our community and be another step in improving our quality of life in Spartanburg.