Searching for the Palmetto Trail

The Palmetto Trail (not to be confused with the Foothills Trail) is the South Carolina equivalent of North Carolina's Mountains to Sea Trail. When it's completed it will stretch from the Northwest portion of the state to the Low Country.  Currently only a few sections are completed.

Today I decided to check out one section called the Blue Wall Passage. The entire section is 14 miles so my plan was to hike half of it as an in-and-out today and then hit the other section in a couple weeks.  So I drove to the quaint town of Landrum, where, according to the Palmetto Trail website, there is a large kiosk in the center of town where one can park. Turns out, there is not. Nor are their any signs showing where the trail is.  Fortunately I had printed out the map they have on their website (there isn't one for purchase yet) but I quickly discovered that most of the trail in this section isn't really a trail yet. It's just a walk down the road. 

So from there I decided to drive to another trailhead that is located at the Foothills Equestrian Nature Center (F.E.N.C.E) which is a really cool place if you're into horses.  Although not well marked I was able to find the trailhead located here.

From there I followed the trail until it came to what they call a pond. (Most of it was dried up but there are several boardwalks that stretch out through what is currently dry land that are kind of interesting looking.) Unfortunately the Palmetto Trail is no longer marked, so I wandered about the property a bit which has a lot of interesting things to see other than the dried up pond.

Eventually I figured out that the trail actually exits through the F.EN.C.E entrance and turns left down the road.  100 yards or so later it cuts left back up through the woods. So I took that trail about a half mile or so until it came back out to another road. From that point forward it follows a couple of roads back to Landrum but from what I can tell never enters the woods again for several miles.

On one of the roads someone had painted the image to the right, several times. I'm not sure what it was supposed to mean but it made me really hungry for fish and chips. Fortuantely, the Palmetto Trail runs right past an English style pub called The Hare and the Hound, located in the center of downtown Landrum. 

After leaving Landrum I decided to see what else I could find so I headed toward Tryon and then on to Saluda where I stumbled upon a campground at Vaughn's Gap. Vaughn's gap is the western terminus of the Blue Wall Passage of the Palmetto trail. So next time I plan to go from there. In addition the eastern terminus of the Poinsett section of the trail can also be accessed from there. This parking area is located somewhere close to here. (Look for a small RV campground.)

Distance from downtown Greenville: 45 miles.

Old Time Fiddlin' Convention @ Hagood Mill Today

Today from 11:00 - 4:00. See you there. 

"Hagood Mill, on the National Register of Historic Places, is a functioning 19th-century water powered gristmill. Benjamin Hagood, an early settler of the Carolina Upcountry, built the original mill c. 1825. His son, James Hagood, built the mill at its present location in 1845 and it continued operations until the 1960s. Under the watch of the Pickens County Museum, the mill continues to develop. Visitors are welcome during daylight hours to picnic and hike on the 13-acre tract. The mill is open for tours and corn-grinding demonstrations on the 3rd Saturday of every month and by appointment for large groups." from Discover South Carolina

Distance from downtown Greenville: 23 miles

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Ghost Bike on Swamp Rabbit Trail

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What if Greenville?

This is a really cool website. If you have an idea that would make Greenville better, submit an idea. Let's see what happens.

Click here: What if Greenville?

Top Micro City

Greenville has just been named top micro city in North America by FDI magazine. 

"Greenville nabbed the top micro city of the future distinction with its targeting of advanced industries such as biosciences, R&D, and advanced materials. The work of local organizations is helping propel the city into the future. Clemson University sponsors an International Center for Automotive Research; NEXT supports a burgeoning entrepreneur population; and Greenville Works combines the assets of local, state, and federal organizations to support business."


And in addition Greenville has also been named 5th most affordable city by Business Week:

"Dining in Greenville ranges from local cuisine to popular national chains, according to the city'swebsite. After downtown, the Haywood Road area has the most restaurant activity and generates the most retail sales in the city."

More Accolades for Greenville

Greenville is in the national spotlight again. First we were just ranked as the 6th best place to live in the country by Relocate America. Link

In addition Greenville was just featured in Garden and Gun Magazine where American Grocery Restaurant was called the best restaurant in the world.

Rick Erwin's and Nantucket's Seafood Grill were just honored by Wine Spectator Magazine.

NPR also recently featured the city and Mayor Knox White in a six part series. Link

And Forbes Magazine just listed Greenville as one of the top 15 places for young professionals. Link

Navitat Canopy Tours

A few years ago my mother, who loves visiting Costa Rica, told me about zip lining through the Costa Rican jungle. I was familiar with zip lines but had never heard of a commercial outfit offering anything like that. Since that time zip lining has moved from Costa Rica to other parts of the globe including Western, NC.

My youngest son is a great lover of zip lines so I've been looking for a good safe place to take him where he could soar hundreds of feet in the air.  A couple weeks ago, my friend Godfrey who has an adventurous spirit told me about a place fairly close by.

Navitat Canopy Tours opened a year ago in Barnardsville, NC just north of Asheville. They are ranked as one of the top ten zip line outfitters in the country. They've been featured on CNN Headline News, in USA Today, the New York Times and on Good Morning America.
Their tour offers ten zip lines ranging in length from 250' to a 1000' (or something like that).  There are also a couple of rappels from one platform to another and some really cool sky bridges to cross. The tour guides are top notch and safety is their highest concern. (Our guides were Rob and Blade - great guys.) Everything is checked and re-checked and the guides also offer a lot of interesting information about the flora along the way.

Sometime I'd like to check out their night tours.

Distance from downtown Greenville: 82 miles

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Appalachian Trail Journals

Overmountain Shelter
If you like quirky stories and tall tales, then you probably enjoy, as I do, reading the kind of travel journals you might find at a Bed and Breakfast or in a room at a nice inn. Without a doubt though, the most interesting ones I've found are the trail journals I've found located in Appalachian Trail shelters.  If you find yourself at one, I highly recommend taking the time to read it.  A couple I came across recently had the following entries.

  • One from a guy claiming he had a two hour staring contest with a deer.
  • Another claiming a bear had just entered the campsite.
  • One by a guy claiming he was in a hurry because the "anti-sin" crew was on his heels trying to save him from eternal damnation.
  • The next one was from a group that simply wrote, "damn sinners!"
    • Another was from a group from the north. The writer spoke over and over about how many spiders and insects there were in the shelter. I thought that was funny. Yep, in the South there are bugs in the wilderness, and in the cities, and in our homes.  That's just the way it is.
    • Another from a guy claiming that he and his pals had encountered a mountain lion in a pine tree that had bitten one of his friends. 
    • Another entry was from an Amish family who claimed they had so much trouble finding fresh water that they had resorted to drinking their own urine. 
    Double Springs Shelter

    There were lots of other interesting ones, most of them describing their encounters with wildlife and commenting on the peacefulness of the trail. Some regarding the weather and lots of advice on which springs were dry and which were not. There were several quoting Bible verses and just as many extolling the virtues of bonfires and liquor.

    Silers Bald Shelter

    Stan Murray Shelter

    More Ghost Hunting...still no ghosts

    I've mentioned ghost hunting outings on this blog in the past and judging by my stat records that seems to be a popular topic (especially around October). Recently I went by a few more places listed in John Boyanski's Ghosts of the Upstate to see if I could spot something from beyond.  (I have no belief in ghosts, so I really do it because I like the quirky history of these places not because I expect to see anything other worldly.)

    Burke-Stark Mansion
    On July 4th my friend Tim and I went down to Abbeville to check out several haunted locations, all of which were closed. Some due to the holiday, some due to the fact that Abbeville has literally become a ghost town. Practically every business on the square is closed down, despite obvious efforts by the city to revitalize the place. Sidewalks are freshly poured and new walkways have been added in the past couple years, but no one is around.  The first place we arrived was the Burk Stark Mansion, which is a really cool place, and where the ghost of Jefferson Davis is said to reside.  While on the grounds, we did find things a bit amiss. In front of the home we encountered something I never remember seeing before, an Eastern Lubber Grasshopper. An omen? Perhaps. He seemed to be pointing us to a dead body that almost went unnoticed. There in broad daylight, on the front walk of the mansion lay, God bless his soul, a dead squirrel. No obvious sign of death could be found. Hmmm....

    Moving on we stopped by the Abbeville Opera House and the Belmont Inn. Both were locked and the Belmont Inn had a sign stating it was closed permanently (like almost every other business in town). Despite that fact, there was a TV on in the bar and I saw a figure dart from the room as I glanced in the window.

    The following weekend I headed out the other direction.  First I went by the Walnut Lane Inn in Lyman where  a former owner, a maid and the owner's two daughters are supposedly haunting the place. It's a beautiful house. The owner was busy getting ready for a birthday party so we only spoke briefly and I didn't bother him with questions about his phantasmal residents.

    Speaking of ghost towns,  downtown Spartanburg has a rich history of haints. There are several dorms at Wofford, Converse and the School for the Deaf and Blind that are supposedly haunted and some private residences in town are also said to be haunted, but not having access to the inside of these places they weren't particularly interesting.

    So I headed out to a haunted bridge where it's rumored two fisherman were killed by a beast that lives under the bridge and that the fisherman can sometimes be heard. After pulling over, I found getting below the bridge was a bit tough due to the overgrown vegetation and as I walked across the bridge (it's very small) a fellow came out of nowhere and asked if I was out of gas. I explained that I was just walking around so he drove on but then slowed and turned and came back my direction, at which point I got the distinct feeling I wasn't welcome there.

    From there I drove out to Walnut Grove to visit Nesbitt Bridge where it's rumored that a female hitchhiker will ask for a ride but then suddenly vanish. The river below was far more impressive than the creek where the legendary beast resided at the last location. Again though, while walking across the bridge, a guy in a pick-up truck stopped and said, "How ya doin'?" I mentioned that I was just out taking photos (I don't want people to think I'm a nut so I don't mention the ghost hunting). "Just taking pictures huh?" he didn't quite buy it.  We exchanged a few more lines and he finally seemed satisfied that I was harmless and drove off. I noticed he had a DNR sticker on his truck so maybe he just thought I was fishing without a license (although despite all the money I spend on fishing licenses I've never had anyone ask me to produce one).

    View from Nesbitt Bridge
    If you look closely at the photo to left you can see a stray hound on the island in the middle of the frame. Ghost hound?

    And speaking of haunted buildings. I recently came across this next building in Tigerville. Surely it has some ghost stories attached to it.

    If you're weird like I am and have some interest in visiting some of these spots be sure to visit local blogger Tom's Random Connections Blog and and download the KMZ file he created which makes finding many of these spots really easy.

    Deserted Schoolhouse?

    The Buddha and The Madonna

    15' Vietnamese homage to Madonna and Christ child located off of HWY 14 in Greer.

    Distance from downtown Greenville: 20 miles

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    15' Cambodian homage to Buddha located north of Spartanburg at the Spartanburg Buddhist Center of South Carolina. The center is still under construction but will feature gardens and performance space. 

    Distance from downtown Greenville: 32 miles

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    Rockhouse Vineyards and Overmountain Vineyards

    My wife and I recently had an opportunity to swing by a couple of local wineries. The Rockhouse Vineyards was first on our list. Actually it was the only one on our list.  Although tiny, they offer some really nice selections. We especially enjoyed the Cab Franc and the Meritage which we learned is a Bordeaux style red made in places other than the Bordeaux region. (Only wines produced in Bordeaux can officially be called a Bordeaux.) All of their wines are fermented in oak barrels.

    Before leaving the owner suggested we stop by a place up the street that opened so recently that it isn't currently listed in any of the NC Wine promotional material and we were certainly glad we did. The Overmountain Winery specializes in white wines, all of which are fermented in steel barrels to give their wines a crisper finish.

    Both are located on beautiful property in the hills near Tryon, NC. While exiting the Rockhouse property, we were met by several turkeys which we later learned are quite a nuisance to vintners because they knock the grapes off the vines and then eat them. (Seem to be a lot of turkeys around this year. I see them a couple times a month somewhere.)

    These wineries are within rock throwing distance of Green Creek Winery which I've mentioned previously so you could easily make an afternoon of wine tasting in the area.

    Distance from downtown Greenville: 48-55 miles.

    Rockhouse Vineyards

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    Overmountain Winery

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    Green Creek Winery

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    Local Live FREE Outdoor Music Opportunities

    There's a lot of live local FREE outdoor music available over the summer.

    Great New Pubs In Town

    There are some great new pubs in town.  Here's a quick run down.

    1. The Velo Fello a Publick House, located under the Mellow Mushroom is an English style pub that has an extensive bottle selection, 5-6 things on tap and interesting food options such as Chicken Pot Pie, Fried Green Tomato BLT Po Boys, Bratwurst, Falafels, etc. They also sell absinthe.

    2. Nose Dive, A Gastropub, located in the old "O" space next to the Poinsett Hotel.  They have a great menu and six rotating taps. Everything I've eaten there has been good.

    3. The Art Bar, is located on Main Street between Washington and McBee. I can't vouch for this one because they don't seem to be open very often, but I've been inside and it looks promising. Hopefully the food is better than their website.

    4. And my favorite new place is the Trappe Door, a Belgian Bar that looks like a monastery. Located in the basement of Barley's, they offer 6-8 rotating taps of Belgian style beer plus countless bottled Belgians. They also have an extensive wine list, great upscale menu, and they serve absinthe as well.

    Distance from downtown Greenville: 0 miles

    USA Cycling National Championships

    In addition to the Highland Scottish Games and Freedom Weekend Aloft, the USA Cycling National Championships will be taking place in Greenville this weekend as well. 

    Official Time Trial and Road Race Championships

    Saturday, May 28, 2011

    • Individual Time Trial Championships presented by Duke Energy
    • Defending Champion: Taylor Phinney, Team BMC
    • Distance: 20.7 miles
    • Start Time: 11:30 am
    • Location: CU-ICAR
    • Estimated Finish Time: 1:30pm (awards immediately following)
    Ancillary Events
    • US Handcycling Series, Individual Time Trial: 8:30 am
    • Stars and Stripes Challenge, 'Ride Like the Pros' (top fundraisers): 9:30 am

    Sunday, May 29, 2011

    Stars and Stripes Challenge
    • Fundraising Ride (various distances, including century ride)
    • Benefits Greenville Hospital System Cancer Center
    • Start Time: 8:00 am
    • Location: Greenville County
    • More Information:

    Monday, May 30, 2011 (Memorial Day)

    • Road Race Championships presented by TD Bank
    • Defending Champion: Ben King, Team RadioShack
    • Distance: 115 miles
    • Start Time: 11:00 am
    • Location: Downtown Greenville
    • Estimated Finish Time: 3:30 pm (awards immediately following)
    Ancillary Events
    • Stars and Stripes Challenge, 'Ride Like The Pros' (top fundraisers): 7:30 am
    • Roger C. Peace Rehabilitation Hospital US Handcycling National Criterium Championship: 11:30 am
    • Duke Energy Kid's Races: 12:30 pm | Download Registration Form
    • Greenville Hospital System Health & Wellness Expo: 10:00 am to 3:30 pm

    Race Maps

    Freedom Weekend Aloft

    Freedom Weekend Aloft comes back to Heritage Park in Simpsonville this weekend.  


    Distance from downtown Greenville: 17 miles

    Greater Greenville Scottish Games is back

    The Greater Greenville Scottish Games, will begin Friday evening at 6:00 PM with a parade down Main Street, followed by a Ceilidh at the Peace Center amphitheater, then will continue the following day at Furman University.

    Location: 34°54'12.56"N 82°25'6.61"W
    Distance from downtown Greenville: 5 miles

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    Art Bomb 10th Anniversary Spring Show

    If you didn't get enough art last weekend at Artisphere, you have a chance to meet some of the finest artists in Greenville this weekend at the Art Bomb's 10th Anniversary Spring Show.

    When: May 21st from 6-10 PM.

    In addition to great art you can enjoy some free wine, beer and music from the Fine Art Ramblers, one of the hootenanniest bands around.

    Facebook Page

    Distance from downtown Greenville: 1 mile

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    The Slow Food Market at McDunn Gallery

    This looks like a great new addition to Greenville. Starting tomorrow, every third Thursday the Michael McDunn Gallery on Rutherford Rd. will host an organic farmers market with produce provided by local farmers.  It's located just up the street from the SC Farmers Market. 

    Opening Thursday May 19, 2011, from 2-6pm on the front lawn of the McDunn Studio & Gallery, North Main Street and Rutherford Road, Greenville SC.
    "Food as Art/Art for Food" 
    ---Greenville SC, USA. McDunn Gallery is working with Slow Food Upstate to establish a Slow Food "Earth Market" on our large front lawn at the intersection of North Main Street and Rutherford Road. Thank you to everyone who turned out for the Slow Food Market presentation. We had a great crowd and enjoyed the conversation. The market will be an ongoing process of discovery and learning, from the farmers to the consumer. Thanks again, to Janette Wesley, Renato Vicario, the Slow Food board, Whole Foods, and so many more who give such extensive effort to make good food available!

    Distance from downtown Greenville: 2 miles

    Top of the Hops Beer Festival this weekend

    Greenville had a small beer festival a few years ago but it fizzled out after a couple years.   Last year Tom Davis of Thomas Creek Brewery brought in back, bigger and better than ever. The 2nd annual Top of the Hops Beerfest is back this weekend.
    Top of the Hops Greenville Beer Festival will showcase the growing popularity of craft beers from around the country and the world in a relaxed and friendly environment. Patrons will receive a commemorative sampling mug and have access to unlimited, two-ounce sampling of over 150 craft beers in the Green's Discount Beverages Beer Garden, the Abita Beer Garden, the Yuengling Beer Garden, and the Blue Moon Beer Garden. The festival will also feature the Samuel Adams Brew University Education Area where patrons will enjoy beer seminars such as Cooking with Beer, Food Pairings, How to Brew Beer and other beer education sessions. Come enjoy the mass of craft beers with live music and fun games like cornhole.
    Date:  May 21st
    Time:  2-6 PM
    Location: Carolina First Center

    Distance from downtown Greenville:  3 miles


    This may be the best Artisphere to date for the following reasons:

    1. Despite the stormy forecast, the weather has been great.
    2. The ratio of real art to kitschy "booth art," is leaning far more towards the real art side.
    3. The live music is better than ever. There are far more artistes with original music as opposed to the old R&B, country and beach music cover bands of the past.  I caught three bands today who were all excellent. (Elonzo, The New Familiars, and Cory Chisel.)
    4. Most importantly, NO MORE STUPID TICKETS! Now you can buy food, beer and wine with cash. And get can now buy wristbands and beer at the same booth at the same time. No more standing in line for a wristband and then a second line for booze.  Wonder if the rest of the downtown events will follow suit? 
    Kudos to executive director Kerry Murphy!

    Foothills Trail

    The Foothills Trail is one of South Carolina's long distance trails, meaning that it takes more than one day to walk from one end to the other. The trail is 76 miles long, starting at Oconee State Park and ending at Table Rock State Park.

    Several miles of the trail hug the north side of Lake Jocassee. It also follows several rivers and streams including the Whitewater and Chatooga Rivers.  The Toxaway river dumps into Lake Jocassee at one junction and both Whitewater Falls (the highest waterfall east of the Mississippi) and Laurel Fork Falls (as well as several smaller waterfalls) can be reached via the trail. 

    Maps and guidebook can be found here

    These folks have a nice trail journal of their through hike of the trip. 

    Bridge over Whitewater River.

    Virginia Hawkins Falls

    Suspension bridge over Toxaway River

    Toxaway River just before it meets
     Lake Jocassee

    View of Lake Jocassee.
    Lower Whitewater Falls
    Laure Fork Fal

    Urban Farm Tour

    This looks interesting:

    Greenville Urban Farm Tour
    Saturday May 7, 9 am - 5 pm

    Come see fantastic examples of how city residents are practicing sustainability by growing their own food and implementing energy efficiency.
    The self-guided tour will showcase urban farms, edible gardens and energy efficiency located within 10 miles from downtown Greenville.
    Rain or Shine!
    Over 25 sites to visit and learn about:
    • vegetable and herb gardens
    • water catchment
    • backyard chickens
    • beekeeping
    • composting
    • alternative energy
    •  vermiculture
    • community and school gardens
    Plus Complimentary Workshops 
    Buy tickets in advance!
    Redeem your ticket and tour map, select your route, start and end time and visit as many sites as you wish.
     See you on the tour!

    Greenville Development

    Now that the economy is picking up, it's nice to see a lot of new things developing around town. New side walks are being installed as part of the city's promise to have a sidewalk on every street. The city has recently added a new foot bridge in Cleveland Park so that it's no longer necessary to cross McDaniel to get from Falls Park to Cleveland. They've widened the walking paths, fortified the river banks and upgraded fences and landscaping.

    Downtown there are three lots that have been empty for years that now have major construction occurring. Here, here and here.

    The Kroc Center is well underway, here.

    A 10 million dollar project has been approved for the Piazzo Bergamo Plaza and adjacent lot.

    The Swamp Rabbit Trail continues to expand, the latest proposal being an extension to run through Pleasant Ridge Park, where it has just been announced that a new zip line will be installed. Swamp Rabbit Master Plan

    Church Street in the future?
    It also appears that the city has finally started construction of the Haynie-Sirrine master plan, which is a long overdue update to one of the entrances to the city.

    A couple of new sports bars have opened downtown. One, that I can't remember the name of is located across the street from The Corner Pocket. The other, The Carolina Ale House, located on Main, has a really nice upstairs section with large glass windows and a ceiling that is removed when the whether is nice so the dining area becomes roof top seating. The Nose Dive, a gastropub, has just opened across from The Ale House.

    One block north, there is a sign for a new place called The Art Bar which is to open soon. On the back side of that building The Beer Exchange recently opened which offers every beer imaginable for take out. What I'm most excited about though is the opening of The Trappe Door, a Belgian bar and restaurant opening in the basement of the Barley's building, which should be opened any day now.

    Next I think Smiley's Acoustic Cafe needs to expand into the empty building beside it and install a large deck out back where they offer live music daily throughout the warmer months. Smiley's if you're reading this, if you build it we will come.

    XPERIENCE Greenville: The World's First Immersive Event

    Two days and counting. What is Xperience Greenville? I don't know but I plan to be there. Something about laser lights and ninjas. How can you go wrong with ninjas?

    From the team that brought you Google on Main!
    If you experienced or heard about Google On Main (the nighttime event that landed Greenville in Time Magazine, Newseek, The New York Times, and countless other media publications), you might be interested to know that the same crew of young techies is teaming up with top dj’s, musicians, and performance artists from around the southeast... and they’ve invited a few other “Visitors” to take part.
    Something BIG is about to go down that may put Greenville back into the national (or intergalactic) spotlight. On the 1-year anniversary of Google On Main, Xperience (a not for profit event) is here to shine a spotlight (or perhaps some lasers) on this amazing community and the incredible creative and artistic talent that’s emerging here.
    Prepare to be amazed, inspired, and exhilarated. Greenville, it’s time to rise and shine... again!

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    Return to the Green Returns

    Return to the Green is moving across the street to the Peace Center amphitheater this year. The forecast currently predicts a sunny 65 degree day.

    Return to the Green
    Start Time: 1:00 PM Sunday, March 13, 2011
    End Time: 6:00 PM Sunday, March 13, 2011
       Peace Center Amphitheater and Wyche Pavillion
       300 S. Main St, Greenville, SC 29601
    Description: Each March, the Cara Club sponsors an annual family celebration of Irish culture for the community. 
    More Info: Click to open URL
    Contact: Marty Flynn
    Telephone: 864-525-8319
    Admission: Free

    The Remains of Runion

    In the early 1900's Runion, NC was established as a logging town located between the Laurel and French Broad rivers.

    Today, a 3 1/2 mile hike along the Laurel will bring you to the remains of the town.  The trail runs along the former rail line so it's very flat. The Laurel, is a beautiful river and there are several campsites along the way.


    Distance from downtown Greenville: 92 miles.