Lake Conestee Nature Park

Boardwalk on Racoon Run
My wife Jenny and I had the opportunity to take a hike together this weekend. Just us. Well, us and baby Skylar. It seems like ‘original’ plans aren’t coming together a lot for me lately. The thought was to hike out to the Raven Cliff Falls observation deck. After the November 1st snowfall and the temps still being in the 30’s, I thought it may be too slippery trying to hike it with Skylar in the Ergo carrier. Having been in the same parking lot the previous day for the Coldspring Branch/Bill Kimball loop hike, and I was slipping and sliding on those trails before they had an overnight freeze. I had some idea of what it might look like. I started having visions of a trip we took in Great Smoky Mountains National Park for my daughter Emma’s 3rd birthday. That trail to Rainbow Falls from Roaring Forks was covered in ice and snow, very slippy. Yeah, whatever.. I erred on the side of caution.

Still, we went to a place that was nearly new and certainly unexplored to me. I had a few minutes on Halloween night to venture a few steps into Lake Conestee (CON-is-tee – I asked someone who works for the preserve) Nature Park, so I was eager to see what laid beyond the bridge that crossed the Reedy River.

Mallards in the marsh
We parked at the Bridge Entrance, and walked Heron Circle. No luck on seeing any great blue herons today, though. The loop was a really pleasant walk along the outer edge of Sparkleberry Island (according to the Learning Loop informational signage). On the southern edge, there’s an observation deck looking out over the West Bay, which I found quite nice. There were several boardwalks and planks on the trail for when the ground gets soppy wet. My kids would love this, and I plan to take them.

Finishing up Heron Circle, we took a couple connectors, crossed a wooden bridge that a small flock of mallards were watching over from the water, and picked up the Flat Tail Trail, moving south. The was another nice meander through the woods. My goal was to get to the Bird’s Nest Observation Deck and snag a view from the top. Now, I didn’t know it was an elevated platform, but given its name I knew it was an elevated platform. More great views. We weren’t even tired, so I was already thinking about scoring one more spot on this hike. Skylar was still hanging in there, so we would see how she was doing once we got back to the bridge over Reedy River.

Bird’s Nest
Turns out, Skylar was doing just fine. We got on Raccoon Run to my next goal, Easy Bay View. I figured it must be a good one since there was even a sign for it at the intersection. None of the other decks had pointed signage. A really nice elevated boardwalk guided us along the banks opposite of Sparkleberry Island. The boardwalk eventually ended, and the trail was easy to follow and walk on all the way to the East Bay View. This was by far the best and most open view we had seen today. Fantastic!
East Bay View
A short walk got us out of the nature area, and we were on blacktop walking next to baseball fields on our way back to the car. What a contrast. Not necessarily bad. It just gave Mr the gratitude for what a treasure the park is for Greenville County.

This is a great spot not just for your kids, but also for a break from the busyness that is always buzzing in Greenville. Really, if you’re wanting to get into hiking, and looking for something flat and easy, Lake Conestee Nature Park is a great and scenic place to visit. Living in Greenville suburbs myself, my go to spot for an easy hike has been Paris Mountain’s Lake Placid or the section of Sulpher Springs Trail up to the dam at Mountain Lake. Those are still nice family hikes, but for the effort, flexibility, and scenery, I am going to be switching to Lake Conestee. It doesn’t even cost anything to get in. We were able to see a lot of the area, covering 2.75miles in an hour and a half. I can’t wait to see more of what is in Lake Conestee Nature Park.

I really want to encourage you to visit a clean breath of fresh air thats tucked away right in our backyard. For more information and maps, visit http://lakeconesteenaturepark.com

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