It’s impossible to talk about running in Greenville without talking about the Swamp Rabbit Trail. It’s one of the better city trails I’ve run on with shade cover, public restrooms, water stations, and plenty of room to run.
The key things to know about the Swamp Rabbit Trail
- It’s currently 22 miles from end to end
- It’s paved, with a few short sections of running-track surface on one side
- It’s a multi-use trail, so in addition to runners, you’ll find walkers and bikers (but no motorized vehicles)
- There are multiple parking areas specifically for the trail
- There are water stations along the trail
Why you’d want to run on the Swamp Rabbit Trail
It’s a great trail for running, it’s really as simple as that. The trail is long enough that you shouldn’t have trouble training for any type of race on the trail, it has plenty of access points, water stations, and tree cover. Though there are a few hills, most of the trail is flat.
There are a few road crossings to contend with, and one of them (at Cedar Lane, just past the Swamp Rabbit Cafe) is fairly busy and has no traffic light. However, there are long stretches of trail with either no road crossings, or easy crossings with little traffic to contend with.
You also get plenty of options for grabbing a bite to eat post run or, if you’re doing a really long run, mid-run.
What types of runs is the Swamp Rabbit Trail great for?
- Easy or recovery runs – Yes. The trail is perfect for these.
- Speed training / intervals – You can definitely do these on the SRT and I certainly have. Fartlek and less structured types of speed training are best on the trail. If you’re doing really structured repeats — like a 10x 400 meters or 4x 2,000 meters — you may be better off heading to a track.
- Tempo runs – Yes. The SRT is really good for tempos. It helps to get a little familiar with the trail, because certain sections are better for tempos than others.
- Long runs – Yes. This is an ideal trail for your long run, provided you’re training for a road race.
- Hill repeats – Although most of the trail is flat, there are a couple places where you could do hill repeats. The most notable is a good-sized hill right near the Governor’s School in the Reedy Falls Park section of the trail.
- Trail running – No, not really. Though it’s called the Swamp Rabbit trail, you’re not really trail running on the SRT. It’s a fairly flat, paved trail, so if you’re looking for trail training, this isn’t your best bet.
How to get there
Since the trial runs 22 miles, there are plenty of access points and parking areas. Because there are so many, and because Greenville County Parks has put together such a great trail map (complete with parking areas), I’ll just suggest that you look over that trail map.
If I were to call out just a few of the notable parking areas / access points, they’d be the following:
- Furman University – The parking at Furman is great because it puts you at a great point in the trail, and though it’s fairly far north, you can still get a decent distance in either direction. You can also do laps around the lake at Furman from there. Though I haven’t done it myself, I’ve heard you won’t have a problem using certain general parking areas in Furman (as opposed to just the official SRT parking area).
- Near Swamp Rabbit Cafe – You don’t actually park at Swamp Rabbit Cafe if you’re heading out on the trail, but there’s a parking lot just across the street. This is a good sized, well-trafficked lot. And parking there means you finish by the Cafe, which is a perfect place to have a bite after a long run.
- Cleveland Park – There’s some nice parking in Cleveland Park, which puts you towards the southern end of the trail. This is yet another nice section of the trail (though, to be fair, most sections of the trail are nice!). The only drawback here is that this is also one of the more confusing sections of the trail. So if you start here, give a study to the trail map before starting, and maybe have your phone handy during your run to help make sure you’re staying on the trail. It took me a couple of runs to work out how all of the different paths in that area fit together.
Swamp Rabbit Trail trail map
As noted above, Greenville County Parks provides a really great online trail map. You can find access points, parking areas, restrooms, water stations, and landmarks on that map.
What else should you know?
Be aware of bikers on the trail. Many bikers fly on the trail, and some don’t have awesome etiquette (i.e. calling out). If you practice good trail etiquette yourself (staying right except to pass), you shouldn’t have an issue.
Know that on the weekends, the trail will be a lot more crowded on the weekdays. If you’re trying to get a “serious” training session in, I’d suggest avoiding the area around Falls Park and Cleveland Park on the weekends, unless you get out there early in the morning. Otherwise, it’s just too crowded and there are a lot of walkers (and standers!) to weave around. Just north of Falls Park all the way to just south of Travelers Rest is typically still good for training on the weekends, though as you get closer to Travelers Rest it can get a little crowded again.
Right now, the trail technically ends at Cleveland St. and Pleasantburg Dr. But it picks up again further south (and I believe the plan is still to connect these two sections). That southern part of the trail is really nice and connects into Lake Conestee Nature Park. It’s well worth checking out. There are parking areas at Conestee, though if you’re bold, you can connect from the Pleasantburg Dr. end to the resumption of the trail.
To connect to the southern branch, stay on Cleveland St. and cross over Pleasantburg Dr. Turn right on Parkins Mill Rd. and continue on Parkins Mill Rd. You’ll go under the overpass for I-85 and at that point will see the trail pick back up. Take note that there is no trail in the connecting section between Pleasantburg Dr. and the I-85 overpass, and in many places there aren’t even sidewalks. So be very careful of road traffic if you go this route.