Exciting Community Health Plans Growing and in Motion in Laurens County
By Emily Shull, MS
ESMMSC Graduate Assistant
From park openings to new trail plans, Laurens County has been working hard to create a healthy environment for its community members to thrive in.
Charlie Lollis Memorial Park
The Charlie Lollis Memorial Park, located on Highway 76 between Hickory Tavern and Princeton, is now open and ready for use and enjoyment! After three years of planning, the grand opening took place Saturday, September 17th. The park features a beautiful, .4-mile walking trail, roughly five acres of frontage for fishing, and a canoe/kayak launch area.
“The exciting thing about this project is that the park opens up a section of the Reedy River that otherwise would have been difficult to access,” said Don Walker, executive director of the Laurens County Trails Association and member of Eat Smart Move More (ESMM) Laurens County.
According to Walker, one of the biggest attractions of the park is the canoe/kayak launch area. Roughly five miles away is Boyd Millpond Park. People can begin their canoe/kayak trip at Charlie Lollis Memorial Park and work their way downstream to Boyd Milpond Park.
Swamp Rabbit Trail Extension
With expertise from the National Park Service and with funding from the Greenville Health System (GHS) and others, Laurens County Trail Association is also working on a plan to extend the GHS Swamp Rabbit Trail (which currently runs from Travelers Rest through downtown Greenville) into Laurens County.
ESMM Laurens County Community Coach Brie Holmes, shared her enthusiasm for the developing extension plans that she hopes will lead to a revitalization of the downtown.
“I think it will be transformational.” Holmes said. “There is so much positive attention around the use of the Swamp Rabbit Trail because Greenville has done so well with it; it has really become a destination. It’s a place that people come from all over to utilize. Laurens County has so much history and so much to offer, it just makes sense to connect it to the heartbeat of SC. I really do think it will be a transformational event in our community.”
The Swamp Rabbit Trail extension will be multi-year project, costing millions of dollars. In addition to fundraising for the trail, Walker explains another challenge that lies ahead.
“Some communities have abandoned railways that can be converted into trails,” Walker said. “Laurens County has no abandoned railways to work with, so we need to find other ways.”
However, like others, Don and Brie foresee the Swamp Rabbit Trail extension bringing many economic benefits as well as providing people with the opportunity to be out in nature and move more.
“The idea is that it will be a backbone trail,” said Walker. “Other local trails can connect to it.”
A master trails plan for Laurens County has just been approved and includes hiking, biking, water ways, and equestrian.
ESMM Laurens County is one of six coalitions in South Carolina that are funded through ESMMSC’s Let’s Go! SC community initiative. We thank the BlueCross Blue Shield of South Carolina Foundation for its support of the Let’s Go project.
Emily Shull is a Exercise Science PhD student at the University of South Carolina with an emphasis in Health Aspects of Physical Activity. As a graduate research assistant, Emily works in the Children and Physical Activity Research Group. She holds a B.S. in Health Sciences, a B.A. in Kinesiology and a M.S. degree in Exercise Science. Emily is passionate about leading a healthy lifestyle through physical activity, healthy eating and a healthy mind.