Thursday, June 27, 2013

Furman University Walking Trail (Blog Hike #372)

Trail: Furman University Walking Trail
Hike Location: Furman University
Geographic Location: north of GreenvilleSC (34.92980, -82.43834)
Length: 1.5 miles
Difficulty: 1/10 (Easy)
Last Hiked: March 2012
Overview: A stroll through woods on the northern fringe of the Furman campus.

Directions to the trailhead: From the traffic circle at Furman University’s main entrance, exit north on Old Roe Ford Road.  Pass the music building and look for the signed entrance to the Duke Energy Village on the left; if you reach the north entrance gate, you have gone too far.  Turn left to enter the village, and park in the blacktop parking lot in front of Cliffs Cottage.

The hike: Currently located on the north side of GreenvilleFurman University owes its name to Richard Furman, the President of the first Baptist Convention in America.  The school was founded in 1826, and it moved several times until building its current campus in 1961.  Old, stately trees and numerous water features make the campus one of the most beautiful small-university campuses anywhere.
            In addition to just strolling around the main campus, campus visitors can enjoy the 1.5 mile paved trail around Furman Lake, the largest body of water on campus.  For visitors who want to leave the pavement, the 1.5 mile Walking Trail described here takes hikers on a gently rolling stroll through a wooded area on the northern edge of campus.
            From Cliffs Cottage, walk slightly downhill toward Furman Lake, where you will intersect the paved trail around Furman Lake.  For the shortest route to the Walking Trail, turn right and head north on the Lake Trail with the lake on your left.  As you approach the north end of the lake, if you look behind you and to your left, you will get a postcard view of the Furman bell tower.  The original bell tower was constructed in 1854 on Furman’s former campus south of Greenville.  This replica of the historic bell tower was constructed on the university's new campus in 1965.  During the Civil War, the tower would ring to announce Confederate victories, but today it rings to announce Furman football victories.
Furman Bell Tower across lake
            After reaching the upper end of the lake, you pass a picnic shelter on the left where the paved trail curves right and climbs moderately but only for a short distance.  Near the top of the hill, the unpaved Furman University Walking Trail exits to the right; a grey sign with white letters marks this intersection.  Turn right to begin the Walking Trail.
            The wide dirt trail ascends moderately to reach a flat area with some old wolf trees mixed in with the newer growth.  Common trees in this nice forest include maple, tulip poplar, and sweetgum.  The intramural athletic fields are directly ahead through the trees at this point, but the trail curves left and descends slightly to reach Old Roe Ford Road just inside Furman University’s north entrance gate.
Furman University's north entrance gate
            For the next 0.3 miles the trail parallels the road, which lies just feet to the right.  A wooden footbridge crosses a small creek.  At 0.8 miles, the trail comes within 30 feet of the Swamp Rabbit Trail’s crossing of Old Roe Ford Rd.  The Swamp Rabbit Trail is a paved bike trail made possible by the South Carolina Rails-to-Trails Project.  The trail presently extends for 13.5 miles from downtown Greenville to downtown Travelers Rest, but there are hopes to extend it in the future.  Another portion of the trail begins at Lake Conestee Nature Park south of Greenville, but it does not connect to the main section yet.  Bike paths do not make for the most scenic hiking, but this one ranks above average and can provide a nice, flat, dry stroll when other trails are too wet.
            The Furman University Walking Trail does not cross the bike path but instead curves left to begin paralleling the Swamp Rabbit Trail.  A boardwalk takes you over a wet area just before the trail curves left to leave the bike path for good.  Another dirt trail continuing straight and uphill here leads to the Furman University ropes course.
Boardwalk over wet area
After passing the Morgan Meditation Garden, which consists of benches set in a nice spot overlooking a small creek, an easy, wide, dirt path will take you back to the paved trail around Furman Lake, thus ending the Furman University Walking Trail.  A right turn on the paved trail will take you around the lake and back to the Duke Energy Village to complete the hike.


  1. The Bell Tower is not the original from the downtown campus. This is a replica built in 1965.

    1. Thank you for noting my error. You are correct, and I have corrected my blog entry accordingly.

  2. I recently discovered a network of trails behind Timmons Arena and an obstacle course. Some trails appear to be used, others not so much. I explored some, but not all of them.