LEXINGTON COUNTY, SC — Walkers and joggers are enjoying the first small section of what supporters hope will become a network of public paths across central Lexington County.
A two-thirds-mile loop along Fourteen Mile Creek on the north edge of Lexington is in use even though it’s a work-in-progress.
Neighbors and others who live farther away have discovered the path even though finishing touches such as benches, picnic tables and signs are yet to be added.
“We’re still putting tweaks on it, but it’s already popular,” town administrator Britt Poole said.
The path stretches along and across the creek near North Lake Drive (S.C. 6) and Old Cherokee Road, largely following the route of town sewer lines underground.
Mayor Steve MacDougall and his children already are avid fans of the path a few blocks from their home. “We go there all the time,” he said. “I love the outdoors, so I enjoy being there.”
The $245,000 project took nearly four years to complete due to lengthy federal reviews making sure its impact on wetlands is negligible.
Town parks director Dan Walker calls the path a shady oasis adjoining busy thoroughfares. “When you get down there, it’s pretty quiet,” he said. “It’s a unique spot.”
The trail is marked by plastic grids through which grass grows to withstand occasional flooding and allow easy upkeep, officials said.
Wooded buffers keep the trail 150 feet from most homes nearby. The path is unlit after sunset.
For now, parking for path users is permitted on the edge of a service station lot adjoining the trail entrance. Plans are in the works to develop a small lot for about 20 vehicles.
The path joins a few others already available in the town of 18,000 residents.
Most are clustered in the center of the community at Virginia Hylton Park, Gibson Pond Park and along Main Street and adjoining roads downtown. Sidewalks also can be used to reach the path across the Lake Murray dam two miles north of town.
In time, plans call for more paths in and around the community.
But the only one town officials expect will be developed soon is one around the Old Mill Pond downtown.