Nature & History Walks
The Anne Springs Close Greenway is rich in both natural and cultural resources. Natural resources include over 100 species of wildflowers and a great variety of birds and other interesting wildlife. The Greenway is home to 28-acre Lake Haigler as well as four other fishing ponds, mixed hardwood forests, prairies, Steele Creek, and vistas that are truly breathtaking.
Cultural resources include the historic Nation Ford Road, which was part of the Great Philadelphia Wagon Road, a pathway that was used by Native Americans, European settlers, Revolutionary and Civil War soldiers, traders and trappers for hundreds of years. In addition, the Greenway contains two circa-1800 log cabins, a dairy barn built in 1946 and the site of the Garrison-Webb gristmill for which Fort Mill is named.
Nation Ford Road (Blue Star Trail from the Dairy Barn to Lake Haigler)
The trail between the Dairy Barn and the Nature Center runs on top of or beside a nationally and historically significant trail called Nation Ford Road. The road was part of the Great Philadelphia Wagon Road, which stretched from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to Augusta, Georgia and was the first major road on the Eastern Seaboard of the United States of America. For hundreds of years, the path was an important conduit for trade, war and settlement. Visitors who look closely will notice the old roadbed now grown over with trees and, in some places, wagon ruts – a reminder of hundreds of wagon wheels bumping along Nation Ford Road in their travels so many years ago.
Walk the same trail used by Native Americans, traders, settlers and Revolutionary soldiers, as well as England’s Lord Cornwallis’ troops on their retreat from Charlotte, North Carolina in the fall of 1780. Visitors can also cross beautiful Steele Creek on a 125-foot suspension bridge and find two authentic log cabins dating back to the year 1800. This trail measures about one mile in length.
Nation Ford Loop (Handicap Accessible)
An eight-foot wide concrete trail, Nation Ford Loop is easy for visitors who are physically challenged, have babies in strollers or just prefer an even surface. The nearly ¾-mile trail loop takes one from the parking area beyond the Dairy Barn to an overlook of Steele Creek. In between, visitors will enjoy the Coltharp log cabin, which dates back to the year 1800; a picturesque horse pasture; a log home built in 1780 that was constructed by Billy Graham’s grandfather; and a cotton patch.
Webb’s Gristmill was among the first of its kind in the area. Built circa 1780, the mill served European settlers and their descendants for over 100 years and is commemorated in the name of “Fort Mill,” originally known as Little York. To be successful at the time, a mill needed water for power and accessibility for customers. As a result, Webb’s gristmill site is on Steele Creek near Steele Road, once a spur of the Nation Ford Road. A historical mill representation interprets the historical and engineering significance of the site.
Lake Haigler Loop
Our most popular hike, the 1- 1/4 mile Lake Haigler Loop features some of the Greenway’s best scenery. Visitors are welcome to stop by the informational kiosk at the Nature Center (Hwy 21 Bypass entrance) for a trail map, which includes a self-guided tour of the loop. The beautiful 28-acre Lake Haigler is characterized by hardwoods on one side and pines on the other.
12 points of interest are listed on the self-guided tour and marked along the trail. Fishing in the lake is for members only, and a South Carolina Fishing License is required. Please visit the Fishing section for more information.
Some of our other popular trails include:
Blue Star Trail
Dubbed by Anne Springs Close as the “main thoroughfare through the Greenway,” this intermediate hiking trail stretches more than seven miles from one end of the property to the other. Not only can it be accessed from any entry point, but it also merges or intersects with every other trail in our trail system. Walking Blue Star means never having to see two aspects of the Greenway twice – from the pine stands and older hardwood forests to ponds and prairie areas, this trail gives hikers a chance to see the property as a whole. This hike will also bring visitors to historical locations like the grist mill replica and sections of Old Nation Road, as well as a portion of the trail crossing under the railroad trestle below the Field Trial Barn.
Sugar Loop Trail
The Sugar Loop Trail is a bike and hike friendly path starting from the Fort Mill Recreation Complex which runs 3-1/2 miles in length. The loop starts at the bike/hike trail from the Complex tunnel and leads to Sugar Island, at which point it continues south along the Sugar Creek floodplain and then westward back to the Complex tunnel.
The Anne Springs Close Greenway has recreation and education programs that give participants a deeper appreciation for the uniqueness of the area.
Earth Day is the largest celebration of the year and occurs in April. Hundreds of volunteers provide a day of family fun with activities that include wildlife exhibits, wagon rides, cane pole fishing,energy exhibits, milking cows, juried student art competitions and more.