Green Crescent Trail to connect community and nature around Clemson

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It will meander through the Upstate, connecting community life and nature.

The Green Crescent Trail, through its creation and ongoing preservation, will dramatically improve the quality of life in and around the Upstate — and possibly attain national recognition, supporters say.

“When this thing is all said and done, we could have a system of trails that is over 35 to 40 miles long,” said Eric Newton, broker-in-charge and owner of Tiger Properties in Clemson and president of Friends of the Green Crescent.

The Friends of the Green Crescent is dedicated to creating a system of hiking/biking trails in the Clemson area incorporating the city, Central, Pendleton, Clemson University, and possibly portions of Oconee County.

By comparison, the Greenville Health System Swamp Rabbit Trail is a nearly 20-mile-long multiuse greenway system that runs along the Reedy River connecting Greenville County with schools, parks, and local businesses.

The Green Crescent idea came from students in a Clemson architecture professor’s creative-inquiry class, Newton said. The students put together a proposal for what a trail system might look like in the Clemson area and called it the Green Crescent.

“When our organization was founded, we explored changing the name, or coming up with a name all together, and we always kept coming back to the Green Crescent,” Newton said.

The trail will be a phased-in development, designed to physically connect significant local landmarks. The area includes the 19,000-acre Clemson Experimental Forest, the S.C. Botanical Gardens, and other significant cultural and natural resources adjacent to campus.

The North and South Experimental Forests, downtown Clemson, Clemson University’s main campus, the Clemson University technology park in Anderson, Hopewell Plantation, Fort Hill Plantation, and 12-Mile Beach at Hartwell Lake represent the first phase of development.

Future phases and spur trails could connect other local landmarks and communities, including the towns of Central, Pendleton, Seneca, and Cateechee.

But developing the trail isn’t an inexpensive proposition, according to a May 2016 trail network feasibility study. The goal is to raise the money to put the trails in place, and then let the municipalities involved maintain them, Newton said.

The study cites a potential cost of nearly $3.8 million for 4.1 miles of an on- and off-street bicycle facility from the city of Clemson to the North Experimental Forest. The implementation strategy involves roadway and new greenway construction.

The cost for 4.7 miles of an off-street bicycle facility from the city of Clemson along 18 Mile Creek would cost more than $7 million and involve new greenway construction, according to the study.

Those sections are expensive because they require significant roadway improvements and SCDOT involvement, Newton said. Funding would come from grants, possibly hospitality tax money, municipal partnerships, federal transportation funds, donations, and corporate sponsorships, he said.

There are sections of the trail, such as the one located on Pacolet Milliken’s Old Stone Church Road/Highway 76 site in Clemson, that would be partially funded by the developers of the property, he said.

He anticipates a 20-year build-out, perhaps sooner, with the easier portions being developed first.

The trail could connect with others in nearby towns, including the Doodle Trail between Easley and Pickens and the Swamp Rabbit Trail between Greenville and Travelers Rest, supporters say. They say the combined impact of a large trail network could create an unprecedented opportunity for economic prosperity and quality of life that would make ripples across the Upstate and beyond.


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