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Time Outside: A bike ride to Simpson Station

Corey Glenn
The golden hills of Simpson Station near the Douthit farmstead on Lebanon Road, looking over the Blue Ridge and early spring sky.

The warm temperatures of early spring always seem to draw out a certain homesickness in me. I begin to long for the sandy bluffs and silvery longleaf pines of the Midlands. More than anything, I start to search out open spaces, pastures and crop fields with grand expanses of the fresh blue sky.

Back on the bike, another spring favorite, I set out to find some flat land with sweeping views and wisps of home. Heading out east of Pendleton on Lebanon Road, the steep gullies that lead to the Seneca River and Lake Hartwell begin to soften into gently rolling hills, and thanks to Clemson University, so does the land use.

Simpson Agricultural Experiment Station is a large farm donated to the University for research purposes. It gives the land a somewhat different character than the timber stands surrounding most of the town. Cow pastures decorate one side of the ridgetop road, while row crops line the other, just like east of Aiken.

However, unlike home, when cresting the tops of these grassy knolls, one is treated to fabulous vistas of the Blue Ridge, from Rabun Bald to Caesars Head.

Overall, this entire region east of Pendleton has kept its agricultural nature exceptionally well, resisting the call of the pine plantations that dominate so much of our state, which makes for a delightful driving and biking experience.

Rolling hills with sweeping vistas, which alternate from green springs and summers to golden falls and winters, pose just enough challenge to make the ride take some effort but don’t usually demand the grueling long climbs one encounters north of town.

The charming farmsteads and rows of grand old cedars invoke images of times long past, making these lightly traveled roads a fantastic choice for a country bike ride.

My favorite part, though, is easily the area around Joseph Douthit’s house, next to the Small Ruminant Research Center, where it all comes together: a delightful old country road, sweeping vistas of blue sky and the distant Blue Ridge, crops, cows and a charming old farmstead.

Getting there is about 8 miles from campus, but it is well worth it due to the relatively gentle grades. There are also several loop options for longer rides, coming back through Central or a different way through Pendleton.

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Corey Glenn
Corey Glenn, Asst. News Editor
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