Tag Archives: Paris mountain

Swamp Rabbit Trail, Greenville, SC

swamp rabbit north

With a couple free days in the upstate, I needed a ride that would be interesting, and not so strenuous that it would impact my injury. Day one was washed out completely, leaving Friday as my only opportunity for some riding.

I chose the Swamp Rabbit Trail for a few reasons. First of all, I have been on the trail before, but always as a way to get somewhere else (like Paris Mountain). It is flat and pleasant, and it takes you from the heart of Greenville to the outskirts at Traveler’s Rest. Because of obstacles like road crossings, bridges, tight turns, runners and plodding mountain bikers, you really cannot get any amount of speed. On top of all that, the trail makes Greenville stand out as a southeastern cycling community, and I wanted to pay tribute by experiencing it all for myself.

I parked not too far from the Greenville Zoo to begin my journey, not realizing that this and downtown would be the most crowded sections. I navigated through the dog walkers and sightseers near the zoo, and entered the confusing downtown district area of Falls Park. This was great for warming up because no matter how much I wanted, I could not go fast. It was also frustrating because I wanted to get around everyone. There were lots of starts and stops.

The other side of Falls Park, downtown Greenville.

Falls Park, downtown Greenville.

The trails are tough to follow through downtown, and I missed a couple of them en route to the northern Swamp Rabbit Trail. Finally I picked it back up and began the trek toward Traveler’s Rest. The northern part was not nearly as crowded, and I was able to get a little speed. There were only the occasional walker and slow biker that I had to maneuver around.

While the trail is mostly flat, heading northbound is ever so slightly uphill. We are talking modest grades of 1-2%. They were made a little more difficult on this day because of a 10 mph headwind. That was enough to get the heart rate going and make this a challenging, if not overwhelming section.

As I approached Traveler’s Rest, I could see Paris Mountain in the horizon. It was tempting. I was feeling good, and the injury was not bothering me. Moreover, I had the itch to push harder. That’s the itch that I shouldn’t be scratching. As I headed north, I shelved the idea of climbing the mountain, at least going in this direction. I would head to the end of the trail and decide when I came back.

This marks near the end of the north trail.

This marks near the end of the north trail.

The trail ends unceremoniously just north of Traveler’s Rest. According to the mile markers, there are more than 20 miles of trail remaining, but apparently they are not yet paved. They will be pretty cool when (if?) they are finished, as I imagine they would drop you off not far from Caesar’s Head Mountain.

As I made my way south, my pace picked up because of the slight descent, and I had a tailwind at my back. My heart rate dropped, and I was able to appreciate the sights. This felt like coasting. No complaints.

Paris Mountain beckoned again. I was still tempted, but decided against it. When I’m in climbing shape, I’ll make up by riding up both sides. Next time.

After buzzing through Greenville’s industrial and commercial district, I was back in downtown. Now the sun was shining bright and the tourists had multiplied. My BSG kit stood out among the polo shirts, khaki shorts and cameras. Again, I just wanted to get by. There was one instance where I had to walk my bike down a steep grade because of the throng of pedestrians in front of me. That part hurt. Eventually I made it through, and was back to the zoo area.

Now south of the city, I had just a little bit of trail left to navigate. I came across the Hincapie Path. That was cool. Did he donate, or just lend his name? I’m not sure.

Hincapie path is a short section of the southbound trail.

Hincapie path is a short section of the southbound trail.

Once past the zoo and the dog park, the south trail was not as congested. In fact, it was often desolate. I was able to lay down the hammer yet again, obstructed only by the winding trail that often would bank along the road, and sometimes share space with sidewalk.

As the trail passed by Greenville Technical College, I was surprised to see a few hills. These were nothing compared to Paris Mountain, but they were enough to give me a little test. I noticed one of them had a 6% grade, nothing fierce, and the hill at the very end of the trail was at 10%. Steep grades are still a challenge for me at this stage of my training, but I’m going to have to get used to them.

The trail ended again without warning, this time at a busy intersection. As I made my way back, I realized that this was actually quite a ride. By the end, I had 31 miles, and felt pretty amazing.

Well done, Greenville. I hope the community continues to embrace the trail, and that it can be developed further. I’ll definitely be back.

Strava GPS Link


Midmorning on Paris Mountain


So this Saturday was my 39th birthday. I’m usually not a big fan of elaborate birthday celebrations. To me it is just another day and not a big deal. For some reason this year was a little different. Maybe it is because this is the last year of my 30s. Or maybe I just wanted an excuse to do something fun. For whatever reason, my wife and I planned a little daytrip to celebrate.

We drove to Traveler’s Rest, SC, just outside of Greenville. We parked and went our separate ways for the morning. She went shopping and to a coffee shop. I, naturally, went up a mountain. I found a good cue sheet off the internet that went over Paris mountain, took me into Taylors through a country club, and then looped back to Traveler’s Rest. The loop should have been 19 miles. My goal was to ride my age, so after two loops and maybe a little extra pedaling, I would be done.

This was my first try at Paris Mountain so I had no idea what to expect. All I knew was that the professionals did four loops at the Cycling Championships a couple months ago. They flew up the mountain, so it couldn’t be that bad, could it? It really was not that bad. It had a couple steep sections and kicked up at the end to about 10-12%, but overall it was in the 8% grade range and it wasn’t a very long climb. As I reached the top, I ran into someone who had just rode up the other way. He said that the way I had just come was steeper and more difficult. Coming from the Taylors side is easier because there are rolling hills and easier grades, but it is a longer overall climb. Descending was fun, and I decided that on my second loop I would go in reverse and come up the other way to get the entire experience.

Unfortunately this route turned out to be longer than I expected. When I reached Traveler’s Rest again, I had 25 miles already. Those miles were slower because I was following a cue sheet and trying to make sense of confusing road names. A couple times I had to pull over and check my GPS, and a couple other times I took wrong turns. On top of all that, because of the additional time taken, it was hot when I arrived back at Traveler’s Rest, and my wife had been patiently waiting. So I ditched the plan for another loop and finished my mileage on some Traveler’s Rest neighborhoods and a nice 3-4 mile stretch of bike trail.