- Live Well
The Saluda Grade Trail would make our communities better places to live in so many ways.
This rail trail would greatly expand access to outdoor recreation, providing places where people can easily get outside to walk, run, bike, skate, and play. This 30-mile linear park would be convenient to many homes and neighborhoods, inviting people of all ages to exercise and enjoy the great outdoors.
When people have more access to parks and trails, they get more physical activity. That’s across all ages, abilities, and income levels. More physical activity (especially outdoors) reduces chronic disease, relieves stress, and improves mental health. One study showed that every $1 spent on greenways leads to $3 in health care savings.
Numerous case studies testify that rail trails become economic drivers for local communities. The trails bring customers to local businesses, attract tourists, and appeal to companies looking to locate in areas with high quality of life. In 2011, a national study found that every $1 invested in land conservation (including parkland) returned $4 in economic value.
Inviting people to travel the historic Saluda Grade—the steepest standard gauge mainline railroad ever built in the United States—engages them with a unique historic landmark. The route also passes through historic downtowns and other sites with a story to tell. And people are far more likely to pause and look at historic signage if they’re traveling by foot or bike.
The trail would also offer an unbroken corridor for wildlife. It would help connect protected natural areas like Lake Summit, the Greenville Watershed, Chestnut Ridge Heritage Preserve, the Green River Game Lands, Pearsons Falls, Melrose Falls, and Norman Wilder Forest. Abundant wildlife will enhance recreation by making the trail a great place for birding and enjoying nature.
Rail trails like the Saluda Grade give people safe ways to get around without driving. When more people choose to bike or walk to their destination, there’s less traffic on our roads and our air quality is better.
There’s exciting future potential to link the Saluda Grade Trail to other regional trail and greenway systems like the Ecusta Trail, Hellbender Trail, Palmetto Trail, City of Spartanburg trails, and more. Ultimately, this network of connected paths could span hundreds of miles!
All of these benefits add up to significantly raise our quality of life. We’re creating communities where we can all enjoy good health and economic opportunity. We’re cultivating pride of place and a sense of history. We’re deepening joy by finding more ways to connect with nature and each other.