Thursday, May 3, 2018

How to Navigate Anne Springs Close Greenway

Anne Springs Close Greenway is a gorgeous, sprawling nature preserve in Fort Mill, SC, about 30 minutes down I-77 from Uptown Charlotte.

There are so many wonderful aspects of Anne Springs Close Greenway that it can be a bit overwhelming to plan a visit. Here are some tips for a fun trip or two.

The Greenway is 2,100 acres with multiple entry points on all sides. Folks with young children ought to park at the Dairy Barn entrance (288 Dairy Barn Lane, Fort Mill, SC 29715) for a family-friendly outing. If you're not a member, there's a daily usage fee of $5 per person (4 and under free), payable at each entrance kiosk.

From the Dairy Barn entrance, you can take the short, half-mile, paved (stroller-friendly) Historic Solid Surface Loop trail from the parking area to an overlook of Steele Creek. This winds you around bathrooms, an amphitheater, a couple of historic cabins and some farm animals.

I encourage you to be a bit more adventurous than this loop, as a fun and impressive swinging bridge is a short hike down either the Blue Star trail (gravel and still suitable for strollers) or the Steele Creek trail (natural surface) from the paved loop. The bridge is definitely a highlight of the park for our crew. From the Dairy Barn to the swinging bridge is just under a mile hike.

To continue the fun, from the swinging bridge, follow the Blue Star trail another 0.3 miles to the Nature Center, or another 0.3 miles past the Nature Center to Lake Haigler.
Admission to the small Nature Center is free. On display are a number of native animals (some live, some stuffed). There's also a play area for preschoolers.

Lake Haigler is beautiful, circled by a 1.3-mile natural surface trail that hugs the shoreline, crossing a couple bridges and offering excellent views of wildlife.

For adults and older kids, the Anne Springs Close Greenway trail system is 40 miles and growing. If you're up for more than an amble, we recommend parking at the Anne Springs Close Recreation Complex entrance (971 Tom Hall Street, Fort Mill, SC 29715). Here you can hop on the Paradise Loop trail from the well-marked trailhead at the back of the parking lot. This 3.5-mile natural surface trail is rolling and pleasant. Make sure you hike counterclockwise; mountain bikers share the trail riding clockwise.

Trail maps are posted at all entrances to the Greenway and trail markers are placed every 0.25 miles throughout trails, providing reference points that correspond to the trail map.

Other activities at Anne Springs Close Greenway include kayaking, canoeing, horseback riding, fishing and camping. We'll definitely be back out there to try some of these adventures on another day.

How to get there:
The Dairy Barn entrance is located at 288 Dairy Barn Lane, Fort Mill, SC 29715. The Recreation Complex entrance is located at 971 Tom Hall Street, Fort Mill, SC 29715. Consider printing a copy of the trail map.

Don't forget to pack:
  • Comfortable shoes: The trail are mostly flat, but you'll want something supportive for your hike.
  • Water: Stay hydrated.
  • Snacks or a picnic lunch: There's plenty to do, so you'll want to keep your tanks full.
  • Hats, sunglasses and sunscreen: The nature preserve trails are only partially shaded. Areas around the Dairy Barn and farm area are less so.

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