Planning phase continues for Laurens County Trails Association

The Laurens County Trail Association, which was formed in early fall of 2013, is working hard to organize their efforts and accomplish their goal of bringing the popular Swamp Rabbit trail in Greenville to Laurens County.

Since its conception, the LCTA has been working tirelessly to get all the legal and administrative work done so that construction on the trail can begin. The trail would connect to the Swamp Rabbit in Fountain Inn, cut through Laurens and wind its way to the Palmetto Trail, forming a path across a large portion of the Upstate area.

They have appointed 10 board members to the LCTA and been officially incorporated as a non-profit organization.

Still, there is a lot of legal and tax work to be done even before planning can begin, according to LCTA President Don Walker.

The LCTA has sent in their application for help with planning and construction to the National Park Service (NPS). A lot rides on whether or not the NPS, who should declare their decision by early October, accepts their application.

The LCTA had to first demonstrate county wide interest in the trail by getting letters of support from local officials and businesses. The LCTA received 22 of these letters from places such as the city councils of both Laurens and Clinton and even the YMCA and Greenville Hospital System.

Once accepted, official planning will begin. First, an inventory of Laurens County green areas, such as parks and existing trails, will be gathered to help determine possible routes.

A feasible route, said Walker, will be one that doesn’t cut through impassable obstacles like an undrainable swamp or busy, impassable highway. It will also make the best use of existing green areas and trails without cutting through private property.

After a number of trail routes are determined and construction plans drawn up, the LCTA will hold several public forums across the county to get public input on which trail is best.

The whole organizing, administrating and planning process should take about a year if approved by the NPS, which means construction won’t begin until sometime summer of 2015.

Construction will occur in sections, with the first section most likely being in Laurens to allow people to make use of it while other parts of the trail are being worked on.

The LCTA hopes the trail will bring in added tourist foot traffic to the Laurens area as well as provide natural enjoyment for all.