Fort Mill’s Greenway now has a ‘front door’ and you’re invited to come on in

A young man and a young woman walk past the outside of the brand new Greenway Gateway building in Fort Mill, S.C.
The Greenway Gateway officially opens at 7:30 a.m. July 27, at the Greenway’s Lake Haigler entrance off U.S. Highway 21 Bypass in Fort Mill. (Photo by Michael Harrison)

FORT MILL — For over 20 years, nature lovers have enjoyed Fort Mill’s lush, 2,100-acre “backyard” — the Anne Springs Close Greenway. Now, that backyard has a long-envisioned front door.

The public is invited to drop in for the official opening of the Greenway Gateway 7 a.m.-9 p.m. Saturday, July 27, at the Lake Haigler entrance off U.S. Highway 21 Bypass in Fort Mill, about two miles from The Peach Stand.

An energy-efficient building built with $4 million from the Greenway’s “Nature Needs You” capital campaign that launched in 2012, it serves as a welcome center, but with so much more. It offers guest and member services, a canteen that serves food and beverages – including beer and wine – Greenway-branded merchandise and a covered front porch with rocking chairs and ceiling fans. Solar panels expected to supply up to 50% of the 6,300 square-foot facility’s electricity and other design features by Charlotte-based architect 505Design were included to make the building as eco-friendly as possible.

“Our new facility will serve as a gateway to nature, a launching point for outdoor adventures on the Greenway,” Darrell Williams, chair of Anne Springs Close Greenway Board of Managers, said in a statement.

“It will provide information and orientation for first-time visitors, and a place where members and visitors can gather to relax and enjoy amenities before or after their activities on the Greenway. The Gateway is designed to help all of our patrons get the most enjoyment out of their time spent on our beautiful 2,100 acres of preserved land.”

Run by the not-for-profit Leroy Springs & Co., the Greenway has several connected sections with various entrances off different roads. It was sometimes difficult and confusing for residents and visitors – especially the tens of thousands of transplants to the Fort Mill area – to navigate. Now, the Greenway has an official starting point. Inside the Gateway are interactive kiosks to help newbies plan their outing and find their way around.

The Gateway will house the Greenway’s guest services staff which, in addition to providing an orientation to the Greenway property and its 36 miles of hiking, biking and horseback riding trails, will assist visitors with memberships, registering for Greenway programs, summer camps and special events, according to information provided by the Greenway.

This new amenity is located near the Greenway’s Nature Center, adjacent to existing peach orchards and the historic Nation Ford Trail, which runs through the heart of the Greenway. It is a short hike to the 28-acre Lake Haigler and its Scoville Fishing Dock and kayak launch, the Bruce Rush Pavilion, and the iconic swinging bridge across Steele Creek.

The Gateway’s landscape design by Fort Mill’s The Dodd Studio focuses on extensive use of native plants surrounding the building site. More than 80 trees have been planted, including dogwoods, Allspice, longleaf pines, redbuds, red maples, Shumard, white and chestnut oaks, black gums, and yellowwood. Also incorporated into the design are several hundred shrubs, native grasses such as Indian grass and Switchgrass, and special beds containing Blue Star and Cardinal flowers.

Greenway Assistance Program

According to the Greenway, an important tenet of its mission “is to ensure that its programs and activities are open and accessible to all, regardless of economic status.” The Greenway Assistance Program provides free or reduced-price membership, program fees, camp scholarships and other benefits to dozens of eligible families and individuals in the Fort Mill and surrounding community.

About the Greenway

The Anne Springs Close Greenway provides a place for the community to enjoy a variety of outdoor activities – from fishing, hiking, mountain biking and horseback riding to picnics, kayaking and more. It is open daily from 7 a.m. to sunset for outdoor recreation enthusiasts and nature lovers to use its 36 miles of trails.

The Greenway also offers a myriad of nature-focused educational programs and special events throughout the year. The Comporium Amphitheater hosts a popular live concert series each summer, and other community favorites held on property include the Fall Frolic festival and the Winter Wonderland Holiday Market. Another major Greenway attraction is the member-based Mary Warner Mack Dog Park, which is the region’s premier dog park featuring separate play areas for small and large dogs and a large fenced-in natural area with hiking trails and lake access.

For more, visit the Greenway online at its website, on Facebook or Twitter, or call 803-547-4575.

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