Excuse us while we pat ourselves a bit on our furry bunny backs, but… OF COURSE the perfect cycling day in Greenville begins by checking into the most cycling-centric lodging in Greenville – The Swamp Rabbit Inn (Swamp Rabbit Lodge, or Furman Cottage, or Swamp Rabbit Cottage) and having a wonderful night’s sleep!
If you didn’t bring your bike we will happily rent you one that will easily get you up and down the trail and around town.
Number One: Pick up a copy of the Greenville Cycling Guidebook by our Innkeeper Wendy Lynam! They are available for you at the Inn. Seriously, no need to… reinvent the wheel (cycling, wheel, ha)! All the nearby routes and trails for Road, MTB or cruiser casual are in there! So consult before you head out to plan your day. All routes and cue sheets are plainly displayed to set a clear course!
Usually any perfect day starts with breakfast and coffee, but let’s say you brought your bike with you and need a tune up first! You have three nearby options. If you have the presence of mind to think about ride prep the night before you can call Velo Valets and they will come to you!
If not you can roll 2 blocks up from the Inn to S Main, turn right, walk two blocks, and be at Carolina Triathlon. You can always stop for a coffee at Bex on the corner if you need that quick fix first. If you want to head toward our first destination you can find bike service at Freehub right on the Swamp Rabbit Trail, exactly one mile from the Inn. Bear in mind: if you want an early start, the bike shops don’t open until 10 a.m. and 11 a.m., respectively, so it’s best to take care of it the day before.
Depending on how ambitious you feel and how long and challenging you want your ride to be you may want to enjoy the first segment simply riding the northward portion of the Swamp Rabbit Trail and centering your activities in Traveler’s Rest. You could also drive to any of the breakfast suggestions and then on to the various trailheads for your ‘big ride’. This post focuses on road rides primarily. For Mountain Bike options please see these links for Conestee, Pleasant Ridge and Paris Mountain mountain bike trails.
Now about that breakfast and coffee… May I suggest a progressive approach? If you want to have the quintessential perfect cycling day in Greenville you have to hit the Swamp Rabbit Cafe. So, we head out on the Swamp Rabbit Trail – all of 30 seconds from the Inn’s front door – and point ourselves northwest. Within 2.5 miles we will be in front of the cafe. If you want to start with something light, this is a great place, but heartier cycling themed fare awaits down the Trail…
Downtown Traveler’s Rest was transformed by the Swamp Rabbit Trail and many of its establishments cater to the two-wheeled set. But for breakfast, Tandem Creperie and Café @Williams Hardware can’t be beat. Especially at Tandem you will find yourself in line with a hungry hoard of spandex kits queuing up to fuel up for a ride on any given morning. Williams Hardware has homemade fare with flare for something deliciously familiar. If baked goods are your thing we must mention Upcountry Provisions in TR as well, but you may never get back on that bike! Speaking of not getting back on the bike, when the ride is done you can circle back to the Swamp Rabbit Brewery (total cyclist post-ride hangout) and enjoy a brew and fancy food truck eats.
After breakfast you have some decisions to make. You can simply continue north past Sunrift a few miles to the current end of the Trail and make a u-turn, or, head out toward Saluda Lake or Lake Robertson from Traveler’s Rest. If you are with your car you can drive to a closer starting place for the Saluda Bakery Ride or Caesar’s Head.
For intermediate rides you can circle back a bit either by bike or car to Furman Campus for the beginning of the 21-mile Little Texas Loop or pick up the 30-mile Saluda Lake ride in the middle at Roe Ford Road. Or, try the short sharp ascent of Paris Mountain. The 50-mile Hagood Mill Ride also starts at Furman. Heading out from Tandem Creperie on Center Street toward Tigerville Road and you’ll be on your way to the Lake Robinson ride (47 miles roundtrip from the Inn).
The Saluda Bakery Ride (also mapped out in the guidebook) is not for the faint of heart. It is a constant climb. Past the BEAUTIFUL watershed scenery. And (as the name implies) there’s a bakery at the end! The Wildflour Bakery. You will have plenty of company as your grind away as this is a tremendous local favorite for anyone in training. A good jumping off place for this is North Greenville University at N. Tigerville Rd.
Caesar’s Head – for the Big Hard Ride – is a 59-mile loop starting at Furman campus. You can also shorten it by 14 miles if you drive to pick up the trail in Pumpkintown. Take advantage of water and snacks replenishment at the convenience stores along the way because you are going into a state park for the climb. You will, however be reward with fantastic views!
So you’re all tuckered out. Perhaps you should shower? Maybe a nap? Ahh, now that’s better! SO, I’ll bet you are hungry – very hungry – again! There are many, many restaurants to satisfy almost any craving in and around Greenville and because we can’t possibly anticipate everyone’s taste may we simply suggest three, that are definitely cycling themed.
Sidewall Pizza One in Travelers Rest and one in Downtown Greenville. Their pizza is inventive, nuanced and frankly worthy of two locations opening in just two years. Yum.
The Velo Fellow A publik house with faithful pub fare and down-home Southern dishes. Great bar and bar games. It’s dark, it’s cozy. Settle on in. Within easy walking distance from the Inn at 1 Augusta Street.
Restaurant 17 At Hotel Domestique! You didn’t think we could get through a perfect cycling day in Greenville without mentioning local star George Hincapie!? Of course not! In fact, if you wanted to center your cycling day and trip around Hotel Domestique you could certainly do that. They have a café for that coffee and a bike shop, plus breakfast, lunch and dinner at 17. It is however the luxury choice. If you want to treat yourself to a truly memorable meal make a reservation to experience Chef Nick Graves’ creations in the elegance of the European styled hotel. Take your wine out by the patio fountain and gaze at the landscape you have conquered this day.
Not to mention, the porch swing, rocking chairs and decks at the Swamp Rabbit Inn are a sublime spot to finish your day too. The hills of the Upstate await! We’ll save you a space to park your bike(s).
Check out more of our “Perfect Day in Greenville, SC” posts!