Nestled in the northwest corner of South Carolina at the base of the Blue Ridge Escapement, the city of Greenville has become a popular destination with tourists of all stripes. Whether you’re a dedicated foodie, an obsessed cycler, a craft beer enthusiast, or just a casual hiker, this mid-sized southern city will leave your thirst quenched, your palate happy, and your hunger for outdoor adventure satisfied and wanting more.
For bikers, the opportunities are endless. For starters, there’s the 22-mile Swamp Rabbit Trail, a beautifully maintained rail to trail that runs through the heart of Greenville’s picturesque downtown all the way into the quaint neighboring village of Traveler’s Rest.Beyond the in-town biking options are a couple of top-notch mountain biking destinations in Paris Mountain State Park and Pleasant Ridge Park. For those looking to leave the city in search of higher ground, nearby Highway 11, also known as the Cherokee Foothills Scenic Highway, serves as a perfect corridor for hiking, fly fishing, and exploring in the South Carolina Blue Ridge Mountains.
But before you pack your bag and make a beeline for the South Carolina Upstate, read up on some of the finer points of the area in our latest installment of “48 Hours”.Day One Options:
Ride the Swamp Rabbit Trail
The Swamp Rabbit Trail was built with funding for the Greenville Health System back in 2009. Since then it has become an indispensable staple of the Greenville community, taking the city from moderately bike-friendly to a renowned cycling hub virtually overnight.
To experience the best that the Swamp Rabbit Trail has to offer, start at Cleveland Park near downtown. You’ll find ample parking here, and once you hit the trail, downtown is only a quick ride away.Before you encounter the heart of downtown you’ll bike through Falls Park, home of Reedy River Falls. This is where you will get a true sense of what makes Greenville’s downtown—a true revitalization success story—one of the best downtowns in the entire Southeast.
For a healthy meal that will keep you moving swiftly, exit the trail near Main Street and bike over to Happy and Hale. Once there you’ll find a wide array of chopped salads, protein bowls, smoothies and cold pressed juice from locally-based Kuka Juice.
If you’re searching out pub fare near the downtown portion of the Swamp Rabbit Trail check out The Velo Fellow, known for house brewed beer, a delicious menu, and a friendly, welcoming atmosphere.
Continue on through downtown for a few miles and you’ll eventually come to the Swamp Rabbit Cafe and Grocery. Whether you’re looking for pizza by the slice, a trailside beer, a great cup of coffee, or the best fresh baked stecca in the Upsate, this place is definitely worth the stop.
From here, ambitious bikers might want to consider rounding off the ride by extending the trip all the way into nearby Traveler’s Rest where Swamp Rabbit Brewing awaits with expertly crafted brews served up by longtime brewer and owner Ben Pierson and his brewing protege Andrew Meyers. When it comes to quality and consistency, Swamp Rabbit Brewing is in a league of its own.
For bike rental options check out Reedy Rides.
Hike to Fall Creek Falls
This 100-plus foot waterfall lies deep in the nearby 40,000-acre Mountain Bridge wilderness preserve at the end of a strenuous 1.5-mile uphill hike. The elevation gain is tough but rewarding. When you reach the top, not only will you be rewarded with an up close encounter of an impressive waterfall, you’ll also be treated to sweeping views toward Greenville of Paris Mountain and the surrounding Piedmont.
To access this hike from Highway 11, turn just past the F-Mart on to River Falls Road. You will then drive 4 miles and take a right at Duckworth Road. In a half miles take another right on Falls Creek Rd following the signs to Palmetto Bible Camp. Soon you will see an information kiosk on the left hand side of the road that leads to the falls.
Mountain Biking at Pleasant Ridge Park
If you opt to ride the entire Jorge F. Arango loop trail, expect to encounter a moderate 700 feet of elevation gain and about the same amount of descent. Along the mostly hard-packed and flowy trail you’ll be treated to great scenery that includes a small waterfall and the remnants of an old home site. More info here.
Day Two Options:
Climb Pinnacle Mountain in Table Rock State Park
At an elevation of 3,415 feet above sea level, Pinnacle Mountain is the tallest mountain completely contained within the borders of South Carolina. This hike is fairly popular, but the balds at the top offer unrivaled views of the iconic Table Rock Mountain. To get to the top start at the eastern terminus of the Foothills Trail inside Table Rock State Park, which is located just off Highway 11. Once you reach the balds soak in the views, then bypass the true summit and continue on the Foothills Trails beyond the boundary of the state park to a few stellar backcountry campsites.
Mountain Biking at Paris Mountain State Park
Located just 20 minutes from Greenville’s downtown, Paris Mountain State Park is home to more than 12 miles of well-maintained multi-use trails, most of which are mountain bike friendly. Some of the better MTB trails on Paris Mountain can be found at the top of the park just before the main park road veers right toward Camp Buckhorn.
Consider warming up by taking the Brissy Ridge Trail to the Kanunga connector (a bit of a strenuous uphill) then cruising back down to the parking area by way of the Fire Tower and Sulphur Springs Trails.
If you thought ahead to set up a shuttle, continue past the parking area back on to the Sulpher Springs Trail where you’ll find a series of exciting bermed switch backs before eventually connecting with the Mountain Creek Trail. This trail leads all the way down to a parking area near the park’s main entrance. Click here for a detailed map of Paris Mountain State Park.
When the ride is complete head down the mountain to the newly opened Piney Mountain Bike Lounge. Conveniently located just 3 miles from Paris Mountain State Park, this place caters to bikers but is open to all with several beers on tap and renowned Greenville food trucks swinging through on the reg.
Fly Fish the Middle Saluda River
The Middle Saluda is one of South Carolina’s most pristine mountain trout streams. In it you’ll find a mix of wild and stocked brown, brook, and rainbow trout, along with some amazing scenery as the river flows through the Jones Gap State Park section of the Mountain Bridge Wilderness area. Start off in Jones Gap, where you’ll find a 5-mile stretch of trail that follows the stream directly.
For flies and supplies head over to Luthi’s Outfitters on Laurens Road.
In the Spotlight
Don’t miss out on these great dining and night life options!
A passion project of Chef Greg McPhee, formerly of Husk, Charleston and Restaurant 17, The Anchorage is located in the heart of Greenville’s eclectic and trendy West Village. Officially opened for business on January 31, 2017, this casual neighborhood seafood restaurant specializes in fresh, locally sourced seafood with menu items such as Bahamian Slated Fish Fritters, Royal Red Shrimp Ceviche and Beet Salad with Trout Poke.
An early pioneer in Greenville’s specialty coffee scene, Methodical—located in the heart of downtown—serves their very own blend of roasted coffee along with a rotation of Parlor Coffee, Onyx Coffee Lab, Steadfast Coffee, Ceremony Coffee Roasters, and Huckleberry Roasters. If you’re a true coffee snob this place is a must. They’re seriously geeking out on java and garnering the industry accolades to prove it.
Libations and Nightlife:
Birds Fly South Ale Project
The Birds Fly South Ale Project puts the focus on Farmhouse Saisons and Sour beers. Through a combination of time-tested brewing and blending methods and modern practices they create beer that is complex, thought-provoking, and pretty damn tasty.
UP on the Roof
One of downtown Greenville’s newest spots, UP on the Roof boasts some of the most spectacular vistas in town. Already known for expertly prepared creative cocktails, unique wine selections and regionally brewed craft beers, UP also features luncheon entrees, platters for sharing and bar snacks that highlight the best of the Upstate.
Upstate Craft Beer Co.
This is a unique nano-brewery that combines a tap room (with tons of local, regional and national craft beer options) with a homebrew shop, and a state of the art “u-brew” operation that’s great for parties and events.
If you’re looking for a taste of the South Carolina beer scene don’t miss the chance to check out Grateful Brew. Half of their 20 rotating taps are dedicated to craft beer made in the Palmetto State, and during the morning hours, they double as a full service coffee bar.
Vault & Vator
Vault & Vator is downtown Greenville’s first speakeasy-style modern cocktail lounge offering hand-crafted, made-to-order libations inspired by The Golden Age of cocktails during pre-prohibition and prohibition. Tucked away in a subterranean basement space featuring the original Vault and Elevator (thus, Vault & Vator) that was built and occupied by the Dr. Pepper Cola Co. during the turn of the century, this speakeasy aims to create a sophisticated atmosphere where cozy conversation can be exchanged while sipping on convivial cocktails paired with a well curated, small menu. Be sure to study the house rules before you arrive.
Kuka Juice has been Greenville’s go-to juice bar for over three years now, but now the Juicery has expanded its healthy menu items with a brand new location in the up and coming Village of West Greenville. Fresh made, cold-pressed juice is still be the staple, but the newly renovated kitchen in their new location will allow for increased production of their already popular health-centric food items.
Sean Brock’s Husk
Greenville’s version is the latest outpost of Sean Brock’s hyper-regional restaurant, Husk. Brock told Eater Charleston that, like the Lowcountry and Nasheville, TN locations, the food at Husk Greenville is largely influenced by the surrounding culture. “Greenville is in the Blue Ridge Mountains,” he said, “so it’s cuisine is the opposite of Charleston. It’s so different. And, to me, that’s very, very interesting.”