fitness

Education meets recreation at River Bluff

jholleman@thestate.comSeptember 8, 2013 

The perimeter sidewalk at the new River Bluff High School in Lexington County serves as a one-mile walking trail.

JOEY HOLLEMAN — jholleman@thestate.com

  • Take a long walk Here’s a list of lengthy, paved walking trails in the Midlands.

    •  Cayce-West Columbia Riverwalk, 3.2 miles, easiest access off Alexander Road in West Columbia or off Naples Street in Cayce

    •  Crooked Creek Park, 2 miles in loop through woods, along parking lots and playing fields, 1098 Old Lexington Highway, Chapin

    •  Harbison neighborhood, 12 miles through neighborhood, several access points, including 106 Hillpine Road

    •  Lake Murray dam, 1.7 miles each way on Lake Murray and S.C. 6; park at either side of the dam

    •  River Bluff High School, 1 mile perimeter sidewalk with more sidewalks looping through campus, 320 Corley Mill Road, Lexington

    •  Riverfront Park, 2.5 miles on Columbia Canal, 312 Laurel St., Columbia

    •  Sesquicentennial State Park, 2 miles around the lake, 9564 U.S. 1, Columbia

    •  Timmerman Trail, 1.5 miles, SCE&G headquarters off 12th Street Extension, Cayce

— Exercise walkers who prefer sidewalks, scenery and sufficient length to really stretch their legs have a new venue in the Midlands — River Bluff High School.

A series of sidewalks runs through the new school’s expansive, 146-acre campus in Lexington County, connecting far-flung parking lots and the athletics complex to the school itself. Runners and walkers could complete a 5K (3.1-mile) race loop without leaving the campus and with minimal backtracking on the sidewalks and roads.

In fact, the school is working on a staff/public fitness program that could include a 5K race in the spring, said River Bluff principal Luke Clamp.

For now, however, the school simply welcomes people to use the sidewalks when school isn’t in session. On weekdays, morning walkers and joggers would need to clear out by 7:30 a.m. and afternoon exercisers shouldn’t show up until 4:30 p.m. On weekends, however, the sidewalks are fair game all day.

“We are excited to offer the campus to the community for walking and fitness,” Clamp said.

The school’s main entrance is at 320 Corley Mill Road, one turn off U.S. 378 near I-20. If you park in the outer edge of the staff/visitors parking lot, you can stroll across the entrance road and begin a perimeter sidewalk that’s about one mile long. It’s not a loop, so the out-and-back trip is two miles, slightly downslope on the way out and slightly greater upslope (or maybe it just seems that way) on the way back.

The perimeter sidewalk parallels but never crosses a road, and an hour after school is out traffic is light on the road most afternoons. The view on the other side of the sidewalk ranges from forest to brick retaining wall and back to forest. A chain-link fence separates you from nature most of the way. The scenery on the rolling hills is beautiful and should be spectacular when the leaves change in November. Despite the school’s name, you can’t see the nearby Saluda River from the campus.

On weekends, with even less traffic on the roads, it’s easy to explore the rest of the campus’ sidewalks and roads. In a few places, you have to walk on the roads for short distances to get to the next sidewalk segment.

The surroundings don’t compare with those on the walk over the Lake Murray dam (though there’s less vehicle traffic at River Bluff) or the riverside trails in Columbia, Cayce and West Columbia, but folks who live near the school or exercise walkers who long for variety should check out the new high school.

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