Leading the Way on Greenways
All of us need green space close to home where we can enjoy the outdoors and reconnect with nature. That’s why Conserving Carolina is helping create local greenway systems that link neighborhoods, parks, schools, and businesses.
Kieran Roe, our executive director, sums up the importance of greenways: “Greenways are a priority for Conserving Carolina because they bring the benefits of conservation close to home for more people. Greenways provide places for us to connect with nature, get exercise, and release stress. They provide safe routes for alternative transportation, so they reduce air pollution and traffic congestion. Greenways strengthen our local economies and improve our quality of life.”
New Greenways in the Works
Conserving Carolina serves as a partner to local governments to move greenway projects forward. We help engage the public in the planning process, write grants to fund greenways, and work with willing landowners to secure land and rights-of-way. We also mobilize volunteers to keep our greenways clean.
We’ve played a role in providing sections of four greenways that are already open for you to enjoy: the Vaughn Creek Greenway in Polk County; Cane Creek and Oklawaha Greenways in Henderson County; and Brevard Bike Path in Transylvania County.
In addition, we are working to move forward five new or expanded greenways:
Ecusta Trail: This exciting 19-mile rail trail will connect Brevard and Hendersonville, providing new opportunities for outdoor recreation and tourism. We envision the Ecusta Trail as a major asset to our communities, like the Virginia Creeper Trail or Swamp Rabbit Trail. A subsidiary of Conserving Carolina, EcustaRails2Trail, LLC, purchased the Ecusta Trail corridor in 2021 and is now working with the Friends of the Ecusta Trail to raise funds for construction, so we can open the trail! Learn more and help build the trail.
Mills River Valley Trail: This proposed 3-mile multi-use path will connect the heart of Mills River to the French Broad River, providing a safe route for walking and biking in the Hwy. 280 corridor. The path will be separated from the busy road, making this corridor safer for everyone. Conserving Carolina is raising funds that will be matched 4 to 1 by a state grant. Can you make a donation? Learn more.
Brevard Greenways: Conserving Carolina is helping expand the Estatoe Trail to the historic Rosenwald community, connecting this neighborhood with downtown Brevard and Pisgah National Forest. In addition, our volunteer crew, Friends of Brevard Area Trails, helps to keep Brevard’s greenways clean and improve trails in the adjoining Bracken Mountain Preserve. Learn more.
Cane Creek Greenway: We are acquiring easements from landowners in order to extend this greenway in Fletcher by approximately half a mile, using grant funding from the N.C. Clean Water Management Trust Fund. Conserving Carolina helped to create the existing 3-mile greenway and restore the creek, in order to reduce erosion and improve natural habitat.
Oklawaha Greenway: Conserving Carolina is an active member of Friends of the Oklawaha Greenway, helping to maintain and improve this Hendersonville greenway. We’re also working with landowners toward expanding the greenway, including a connection to Blue Ridge Community College.
A Big Vision: The Hellbender Trail
Greenways bring so many benefits to our communities, it’s no wonder that towns, cities, and counties throughout WNC have been planning for new greenways. When you put those plans together, a larger vision starts to emerge—an expansive greenway network known as the Hellbender Trail. This network would connect 150 miles of multi-use trails, stretching from Asheville to Brevard and Rosman; to Hendersonville and Flat Rock; to Swannanoa and Old Fort; to Woodfin and Weaverville, and to Canton and Waynesville. We’re excited to be playing a key role as advocates for greenways in our service area!
Get the Latest News on Greenways
Here’s where to find the latest stories about greenways. There could be new places to walk, run, bike, relax, or play, coming near you!