Greenwood’s Trail of Tears

About three years ago, I visited Greenwood, S.C., for the first time, shortly after my parents moved there. There was one element of the town that moved me more than any other: a 2 1/2-mile-long paved recreation trail through the woods that used to be a popular set of railroad tracks.

“This town is cool,” I thought to myself without even seeing the entire place.

In September 2010, I moved to Greenwood from eastern North Carolina so my daughter and I could be closer to Mom and Dad. I loved North Carolina, but not without some getting used to it and learning what made it unique. I could do the same with South Carolina, I thought – and figured the “bike path” (that was open to walkers and joggers) would be a good place to start.

Trouble with it was, I soon learned, no one takes care of it. Longtime residents will say they don’t use the path – I later learned was called the “Heritage Trail” – because one end goes through “the ghetto.” It’s true, but that’s not what makes me leery of it.

That said, here’s a “photographic tour” of the Heritage Trail taken this weekend. The pictures are pretty much in order from (for those of you familiar with Greenwood) Florida Avenue to “the ghetto.”

It starts off pleasant enough - lots of foilage; plenty of smooth trail.

Then it starts to get interesting ...

Mess from construction vehicles? On a recreation trail? Really?

Good thing I had my mountain bike. Stones like this equal instant blowout for road bike tires pumped up to 100 pounds (an average psi).

More construction mess.


The thing is, the city sends a cherry picker out to pick a Christmas tree up off my curb. Can't they dispatch someone to drive a sweeper down this trail once a week?


This has always been a question I have had for the city: why is there not a narrow footpath around this access from a street (near my house) when it's clearly used regularly by utility trucks? I tried finding a way around this gate one time and ended up in a deer tick-laden mill pond. Guess what, city - I got a tick.

More of these hard little burs that can pop a bike tire in a millisecond. It's no wonder a road cyclist I met Saturday morning said the group he was riding with had two folks get flats on the trail. Maybe next time they won't take the trail. Again, all it'd take is one pass by a street sweeper, Greenwood.



These photos were taken Saturday, Feb. 26. The next day – Sunday – I hit the trail for a 30-minute run at about 5 p.m. This is what I saw, which later proceeded to drive past me on the trail at about 20 miles per hour. (I thought it was particularly thoughtful considering I had headphones in and it approached from behind. It scared the crap out of me – and it all took place about 100 yards from the end of the trail. Not only are construction vehicles desecrating the trail, but they’re being driven by inconsiderate knuckleheads who are going to kill somebody. I mean, a recreation trail is not a place one expects to see a car.)   

This truck nearly crushed me Sunday night - on a recreation trail.

Hopefully Greenwood begins to view the Heritage Trail as more than a grant-funded answer to ground tainted by years of train diesel. Hopefully officials clean it up AND make sure it stays that way. Hopefully people use their city’s gem.

From Greenwood's Heritage Trail


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