The Anne Springs Close Greenway will officially open its new welcome center, named the Greenway Gateway, on Saturday, July 27, at 8:30 a.m., according to a press release.

The 6,300-square-foot facility will serve to inform and orient visitors and serve as a hub for activities at the 2,100-acre nature preserve and outdoor recreation site established in 1995.

The Gateway is located at the Lake Haigler Entrance off the US Highway 21 Bypass in Fort Mill and will operate Monday through Saturday, 8:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m. and 11 a.m.-6 p.m. on Sunday. Admission to the Greenway, including the Gateway, is free for members and $5 per day for non-members.

The Gateway will house the Greenway’s guest services staff which, in addition to providing an orientation to the Greenway property and its 36 miles of hiking, biking and horseback riding trails, will assist visitors with memberships, registering for Greenway programs, summer camps and special events.

The building, designed by Charlotte-based 505Design, features a large open lobby with interactive informational services, a covered front porch with rocking chairs and ceiling fans, and retail space with Greenway branded merchandise.  The Gateway’s Canteen offers onsite food and beverage services featuring fresh ingredients and healthy alternatives. 

The Gateway is located near the Greenway’s Nature Center, adjacent to existing peach orchards and the historic Nation Ford Trail, which runs through the heart of the Greenway. It is a short hike to the 28-acre Lake Haigler and its Scoville Fishing Dock and kayak launch, the Bruce Rush Pavilion, and the iconic swinging bridge across Steele Creek.

The Gateway’s landscape design by Fort Mill’s The Dodd Studio focuses on extensive use of native plants surrounding the building site. More than 80 trees have been planted, including dogwoods, Allspice, longleaf pines, redbuds, red maples, Shumard, white and chestnut oaks, black gums, and yellowwood. Also incorporated into the design are several hundred shrubs, native grasses such as Indian grass and Switchgrass, and special beds containing Blue Star and Cardinal flowers. 

Visitors will enter the Gateway from the lighted 120-space gravel parking lot located approximately 100 yards from the entrance. A “youth-friendly” stone seating wall wraps around the building leading to the front door. The “front yard” of the Gateway building features a lawn which is separated from the adjacent event area (site of the Greenway’s annual Fall Frolic) by a landscaped rock wall. 

The facility is the most important building constructed on the Greenway since its formation in 1995. Funding for the $4 million project comes from donations made to the Greenway’s “Nature Needs You” capital campaign that launched in 2012. Donations were received from individuals and companies in Fort Mill, greater York County and throughout the Charlotte region.

“Our new facility will serve as a gateway to nature, a launching point for outdoor adventures on the Greenway.” said Darrell Williams, chair, Anne Springs Close Greenway Board of Managers. “It will provide information and orientation for first-time visitors, and a place for members and visitors to gather, relax, and enjoy amenities before or after their activities on the Greenway.

“The Gateway is designed to help visitors get the most enjoyment out of their time spent on our beautiful 2,100 acres of preserved land. We’re grateful to the Anne Springs Close family, our capital donors and other individual and corporate supporters in our community who have enabled this longtime vision of the Greenway to become a reality.”

Eco-Friendly Features

The building was carefully designed and built with natural features to complement the surrounding landscape. It uses materials and sustainability practices that reflect the Greenway’s mission and its caring for the environment. Some of its eco-friendly and energy saving features include:

  • Passive use of daylight through its light shelves, porches, and clerestory windows
  • Roof-mounted solar panels which are expected to deliver at least 50% of the building’s electricity during peak summer season and fully meet demands during other times of the year 
  • High-efficiency heating and cooling systems
  • Radiant-floor heating system in the public spaces to reduce energy consumption and improve user comfort year-round by mitigating temperature swings and maintaining a constant, comfortable indoor environment
  • Rainwater collection cisterns to provide drip irrigation for the certain landscape areas
  • Use of Zero-VOC materials that do not release gas from toxic chemicals and reduce indoor air quality
  • An indoor air energy recovery unit that draws 100% fresh air to boost indoor air quality
  • Low-flow plumbing fixtures to reduce water usage
  • Movable glass walls that open onto the porch allowing fresh air into the building

The Gateway’s sustainability story will be incorporated into the Greenway’s ongoing education programs for visitors and area school students.

Gateway Canteen

One of the featured amenities of the visitor’s center is the new Gateway Canteen, which will offer onsite food and beverages daily. The café will be operated by Charlotte-based Fresh Eats Catering and managed by Tyler Lee. Operating hours will adjust seasonally.  During summer hours, the Canteen will be open daily, 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Wednesday, 7 to 9 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, and 11 a.m. to 6p.m. on Sunday.

Connecting People to Nature

The Anne Springs Close Greenway has become a prime destination for residents of Fort Mill and the surrounding region who want to connect with nature and the rich cultural heritage that is part of this beautiful 2,100-acre nature preserve. The Greenway’s extensive educational and recreational programs and special events have attracted rapidly growing numbers of participants in recent years. More than 275,000 people visited the Greenway last year, and it is now supported by over 7,000 member households annually. In addition, more than 23,500 students benefit from its outdoor education programs, and over 5,000 kids are enrolled in summer camps. The Greenway’s active volunteer base has grown to more than 1,900 individuals who donate time and talent to support its programs and activities throughout the year.      

Greenway Assistance Program

An important tenet of the Greenway’s mission is to ensure that its programs and activities are open and accessible to all, regardless of economic status. The Greenway Assistance Program provides free or reduced-price membership, program fees, camp scholarships and other benefits to dozens of eligible families and individuals in the Fort Mill and surrounding community.

About the Anne Springs Close Greenway

The Anne Springs Close Greenway provides a place for the community to enjoy a variety of outdoor activities – from fishing, hiking, mountain biking and horseback riding to picnics, kayaking and more. It is open daily from 7 a.m. to sunset for outdoor recreation enthusiasts and nature lovers to use its 36 miles of trails.

The Greenway also offers a myriad of nature-focused educational programs and special events throughout the year. The Comporium Amphitheater hosts a popular live concert series each summer, and other community favorites held on property include the Fall Frolic festival and the Winter Wonderland Holiday Market. Another major Greenway attraction is the member-based Mary Warner Mack Dog Park, which is the region’s premier dog park featuring separate play areas for small and large dogs and a large fenced-in natural area with hiking trails and lake access.

The Anne Springs Close Greenway is a not-for-profit organization that receives no government funding for its ongoing operations and programs. It relies on revenues from its endowment, membership and program fees, and private contributions from individuals, community and corporate partners, and other donors to fund operations and capital needs.