Lake Conestee Nature Park
Greenville, South Carolina
LCNP has 5 entrances:
- 840 Mauldin Road (LCNP's main entrance; trailhead located at former Municipal Stadium, across from FedEx)
- 701 Fork Shoals Road (from Fork Shoals Rd., enter Belmont Fire Dept., parking and trailhead are located behind Belmont Fire Department)
- 601 Fork Shoals Road (opposite junction of Fork Shoals Rd. and White Horse Rd. Extension)
- Henderson Avenue (from Fork Shoals Rd., take Henderson Ave. continuing east until Henderson Ave. dead ends [junction with Meadors Ave.] , parking lot and trailhead located on the right)
- 1 Spanco Drive (from Conestee Rd. take Spanco Dr. past Conestee Mill, parking lot and trailhead located on the right)
A map showing all 5 entrances can be found on the Lake Conestee Nature Park website.
Note that the parking lots on Henderson Avenue and at 601 Fork Shoals Road are gated. If the gates are closed, park on the side of the road and enter on foot. The gates are closed at dusk. The other parking lots are permanently open. There are 2 sets of public restrooms in the area off Mauldin Road and at the Belmont Fire Department trail-head. In the opinion of this reviewer the best places to start birding are either Spanco Drive (access to the South Bay lake and the paved Swamp Rabbit Trail) and Mauldin Road (access to both East and West Bays and numerous natural surface trails).
Birds to look for
The Greenville County Bird Club has established a comprehensive bird list for the Park. The list is updated and published monthly on the Greenville County Bird Club website.
The lake and river are good places for several resident waterfowl species as well as for wintering ducks and migrating shorebirds (Yellowlegs, Least, Solitary and Spotted Sandpipers, Wilson's Snipe). American Bitterns have been observed between January and May. In the winter several sparrow species (including Field, Swamp, White-throated, Song, and Fox) have been seen, particularly along the wetland edges. To date (March 2011) 34 warbler species have been reported in the Park. The Park, being part of the Reedy River valley is a good place for observing the occasional rarity (for the Upstate region of SC). There are 2 reports of an Anhinga. Both Gray and Red Foxes, White-tailed Deer, Beaver, River Otter and 3 species of turtles are among the fauna in the Park. On November 15, 2010, the Audubon South Carolina, the National Audubon Society and BirdLife International accepted LCNP as an Important Bird Area (IBA) of Global Significance on the basis of LCNP far exceeding the threshold of ninety Rusty Blackbirds present during the winter season.
Lake Conestee was established in the early 1800s through damming of the Reedy River. It is now approximately 90% silted in. The Lake Conestee Nature Park, managed by the Conestee Foundation, is a 400 acre property comprised of the former lakebed and contains wetlands, sloughs, bottomland forests, and 3 miles of the Reedy River. The water level in a large section of marsh has been significantly raised by active beaver dams.
The Park has several miles of well-marked natural and paved trails (the latter suitable for handicapped access), observation decks at the 3 sections of the lake, a raised observation platform, and several boardwalks through varied habitat. An updated trail map can be down loaded from the park website.
The Greenville County Bird Club conducts a morning bird-walk on the 3rd Saturday of every month. Details can be found on the "Outings" page of the Greenville County Bird Club. All GCBC trips are open to the general public.
For more information about the park including an overview site map with surface streets, visit Upstate Forever's website at www.conesteepark.com (scroll down the page for site map).