Doodle Trail talks spark local debate

By Nicole Daughhetee
Staff Reporter

COUNTY — There has been a lot of buzz and excitement, both good and bad, concerning the idea of developing a “Rails-to-Trails” project in Pickens County that would create an 8.5-mile multi-modal greenway connecting the cities of Easley and Pickens.

The Doodle Line or Doodle Trail, named after the Pickens Doodle train that ran from Pickens to Easley in the heyday of the railroad in the area, is currently owned by the Pickens Railway Company. The cities of Pickens and Easley are working together with the hope of purchasing the 8.5 miles of train rail and developing it into a greenway, much like the popular recreational Swamp Rabbit Trail in Greenville.

According to a recent study, the GHS Swamp Rabbit Trail, which extends from Greenville to Travelers Rest, had approximately 359,000 users over a one year-period. Numbers like these have made some Pickens County residents leery about turning the unused railway into a greenway.

Opponents to the Doodle Trail have voiced concerns about infringement on landowners’ property rights and increased crime rates as a result of having multitudes of people walking or cycling through their backyards.

Pickens city administrator Katherine Brackett who, along with Easley city administrator Fox Simons, is in the midst of legal discussion and negotiations with officials from the Pickens Railway Co., declined to offer many comments on the rail-to-trail project because they are unable to do so at this time.

Brackett did mention, however, that acquiring property, like the Doodle Line, actually helps to deter — as opposed to creating opportunities for — criminal behavior.

“When areas like the Doodle Line are left abandoned, this is when you see problems with criminal behavior. No one uses the area, and it is not monitored,” said Brackett. “Part of the line stretches through the main corridor of Pickens. If the area is simply left to grow up and out, it will be an eyesore for the community.”

Simons said that the city is “still very interested in the project” and would like to see it happen. At this point, Simons also said he did not want to say anything that might derail negotiations.

Supporters of transforming the 8.5 miles of railway into a pedestrian and cyclist-friendly Doodle Line trail believe that in addition to the health benefits it will offer for the people of Pickens County, it will also offer opportunities for economic development.

Presently, people from Pickens County travel to Greenville for the express purpose of using the Swamp Rabbit Trail, and after a day of biking are more likely to stay in Greenville to eat dinner or have an ice cream, some say, which puts money into Greenville’s economy as opposed to that money being spent in Pickens County.

There has been a lot of vocal opposition to the rail-to-trail project by local groups like the Conservatives of the Upstate, but Brackett says that she has received positive feedback from the people and businesses in Pickens.
Simons, like Brackett in Pickens, has had a positive response in Easley. Both city administrators pointed out that several people who have vocally opposed the project don’t even live in Easley or Pickens, where the proposed Doodle Line trail will connect.

Based out of Washington, D.C., the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy is a nonprofit organization whose mission it is to create a nationwide network of trails from former rail lines and connecting corridors to build healthier places for healthier people.

To learn more about Rails-to-Trails projects nationally, visit Pickens County residents who are interested in keeping up or weighing in on the debate can visit and join the Facebook page Pickens County Doodle Rails to Trails at