So you have that winter cabin fever. And while spring is on its way, March can be a mean temptress, tantalizing with warm weather days then dropping weeks of cold wet rain. We suggest embracing the early spring chaos with an easy outdoor escape. A quick walk is more than manageable whatever the weather, and these local paths optimize your opportunity to catch nature’s transformation with early springtime blooms.
When you want to embrace your inner botanist: Lake Jocassee Oconee Bell Trail
While a trip to Lake Jocassee is well worth it for the lake views alone, the area protects a more delicate delight. Devils Fork State Park is the natural home for the prized Oconee bell, a rare flower that only sprouts up in a few other Southeastern havens. Expect blooms to begin mid-March.
Park: Devils Fork State Park, 161 Holcombe Cir, Salem, SC.
Walk: Take the Oconee Bells Nature Trail, a 1-mile loop that meanders away from the lake and into the Jocassee wilderness. The dainty white bells can be spotted in clumps alongside the creek bed.
When you want to see wildlife that’s not your dog: Lake Conestee Nature Park
This nature reserve is a true Greenville gem, and as a wildlife sanctuary, it’s an ideal spot to view ducks, otters, owls, and more. A combination of boardwalks, paved paths (including parts of the Prisma Health Swamp Rabbit Trail), and natural trails meander through the park’s 400 acres, but we suggest picking a loop with an observation deck for wildlife-viewing opportunities.
Park: West Entrance, 601 Fork Shoals Rd, Greenville.
Walk: Take the Spring Lizard Link to the Flat Tail Trail, which offers multiple observation decks, and a chance at glimpsing area waterfowl like the great blue heron, which nests in tall trees around the lake.
When you want a nature stroll without the foot traffic: Doodle Trail
A rails-to-trails initiative uniting Pickens and Easley, this former train line reminds of the Prisma Health Swamp Rabbit Trail with its rural scenes and multiuse capabilities. The 7.5-mile paved pathway provides foothills vistas and a quieter alternative when your go-to Greenville ride becomes too, well, swamped.
Park: 409 East Cedar Rock St, Pickens, or 514 Fleetwood Dr, Easley.
Walk: Since the trail is for bikes, too, start in Easley and cruise all the way to historic downtown Pickens, which offers coffee stops (try Coyote Coffee), antique shops, and more.
When you want to walk off your work lunch: Furman Lake Loop Trail
Spend more than a minute on Furman University’s grounds, and you might decide to do college all over again. For scenic benefits without tuition fees, stroll the 1.5 mile loop around Furman Lake. Towards the end of the month, trees surrounding the lake will be in bloom, and there’s plenty a bench for taking in the view.
Park: 76 Montague Cir, Greenville.
Walk: Public parking right off Duncan Chapel Rd puts walkers on the Prisma Health Swamp Rabbit Trail. Stroll towards the university, then detour to the lake for a peaceful loop around the water.
When you want outdoor feels in the city: Cleveland Park Eagle Trail
A walk in your own neighborhood can provide a breath of fresh air, but for those of us who want a little more spring bloom (and a little less car fume), Cleveland Park offers a few natural trails in the McDaniel neighborhood area.
Park: Cleveland Park Tennis Courts, Lakehurst St, Greenville.
Walk: Hop on the Eagle Trail, which winds through the woods above the park, then take the stairs to Woodland Way. This quiet road connects to other scenic streets, giving walkers a chance to view neighborhood gardens. Follow Woodland Way around the park to McDaniel St and the Rock Quarry Garden.