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Take a hike (or bike ride or swim): New field guide shows the way

Nataley Williams ’21 takes a bike ride on the path next to Furman Lake.

Nataley Williams ’21 used to turn to the internet for ideas when she wanted to escape to the wilderness.

But what she found was disorganized and overwhelming.

“The information to find all the different places was always pretty scattered, and I never found a good website that had all the information together and easily accessible,” said the sustainability science major from Knoxville, Tennessee. “Some websites would only have hiking or only have paddling or not have how far away the places were.”

But not knowing where to go will no longer be a problem for her — or anyone who clicks through the pages of her newly completed field guide. Williams produced the digital booklet while she worked full time as the David E. Shi Center for Sustainability’s Communications and Outdoor Fellow over the summer.

“I wanted it to be an easy access point for those interested in finding outdoor activities,” she said. “I had no idea that so many places were so close. Many of the places are under an hour from campus.”

The guide features hiking and biking trails, mountain climbing locations, paddling areas and swimming spots and includes information about the Swamp Rabbit Trail as well as local and state parks. Williams divided the locations by activity, the distance of each destination from the Furman campus and categories, such as “long and lively” and other descriptors, so that visitors can choose accordingly.

“Our hope is that more folks get outside,” said Kelly Grant Purvis, associate director of sustainability programs at the Shi Center. “Part of being good environmental stewards is getting out and knowing what is out there.”

The Shi Center’s Student Fellows program is designed to encourage students to engage sustainability in diverse ways. While the Fellows take a lead role in investigating and acting on a campus or community topic, they are also honing their academic and professional skills.

For Williams, that meant acquiring some graphic design experience.

“I have always been very interested in it, and I think it’s a really cool way to be creative,” she said, adding that she used an online flip book creator called Flip Snack.

“When creating the guide, I had a vision in mind, and what it turned out to be was a combination of my vision and my ability to use the tools given to me on the flip book creator,” said Williams.

“So sometimes it was a challenge for me to use my limited resources on the creator to create what I wanted,” she said. “But that also made it kind of fun because then I had to be even more creative using only what was available to me.”

Furman students are the intended audience of the field guide. However, anyone who wants to explore the outdoors in Upstate South Carolina and western North Carolina may find it useful.

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