Beaufort News

New Bluffton nature trail offers high-tech features

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  • With the help of a smartphone, walkers and cyclists can take a guided tour of the new Buckwalter Greenway Trail that wraps around Buckwalter Place and learn about Lowcountry ecology.

    All while getting some exercise along the way.

    A QR code at the trailhead of the 1.35-mile path allows walkers to plug in their headphones as narrators such as the Lowcountry Institute's Kristen Marshall Mattson describe the wetlands they pass.

    Savannah-based company CityTrex developed the mobile media application.

    Buckwalter Place developer Matt Green said the feature enriches the experience of strolling through the pine forests and along the man-made lagoons.

    "It educates people a little bit about our ecosystem, and they can also hear about Buckwalter Place and what we're doing," Green said.

    The Buckwalter Greenway Trail was funded by a $100,000 S.C. Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism grant and a $26,000 donation by the developers of Buckwalter Place.

    Although the trail is not "officially" open -- there's a ribbon-cutting ceremony with Mayor Lisa Sulka at 9 a.m. Wednesday -- people have already started to use it, project manager Laura Budak said.

    The U-shaped trail is near more than 20 residential neighborhoods, the Bluffton schools complex and businesses at Buckwalter Place, with a starting point near Publix.

    The trail also could be used for birdwatching, photography and nature education, Budak said.

    The trail also reflects a town goal of increasing connectivity and developing parks and pathways throughout Bluffton.

    The multimedia feature will be updated seasonally to reflect changes in the environment and what nature lovers see during a particular time of year, CityTrex founder Burton Sauls said. The company also has developed walking tour applications for Savannah and Beaufort.

    It's just the start of mobile applications available at Buckwalter Place, Green said. He envisions signs throughout the development with QR codes to clue people in on other amenities.

    "The trend going on with QR codes seemed appropriate for our knowledge-based, mixed-use project," Green said. "We thought with this new recreation amenity, how cool would it be to tie that in?"