Today’s Carolina Mountain Club hike was billed as an almost flat, almost seven-mile hike. It barely seemed worthwhile to put on your hiking boots. But it promised a walk through current and future greenways. I was curious, so I put on my boots – low boots.
Marcia Bromberg, former CMC president, is very active in Friends of Connect Buncombe, the Buncombe County Greenway movement. Unlike hiking trails, greenways connect people to places they might want to walk or bike to. In Buncombe County, at least, the goal is to pave greenways, allowing more people to use them. They have a long way to go.
We started our walk in front of the remains of Sulphur Springs. What was a tourist attraction in the 19th century is now just a concrete pavilion around the well. The pictures may look unexciting and brown but we’re in the January thaw.
Opposite there’s a right-of-way through a private tract owned by the Myrtle Vrabel Estate. Vrabel, who died in 2007, owned a tract of land which is still laying dormant through Canie Creek ten years later.
I learned all of this from Doug Barlow, known as Brother Hug, a community organizer in the Canie Creek area.
He and other activists are working to get Riverlink, a conservancy, to buy the land from the estate, so it can be preserved and saved from development. To my untrained eyes, the land in a floodplain can’t be worth very much.
We walked through the Hominy Creek Greenway, which is an official greenway with maps and plans. It even has a beach – see the photo above dubbed the West Asheville beach.
Then to Carrier park and the French Broad River Park. The Asheville Camino used some of the same route, though of course, the Camino hike is over sixteen miles.
But honestly, it was difficult to figure out where one greenway or proposed greenway started and another ended. Buncombe County has approved a master plan for greenways, so this is a big, big important step in the future of greenways in our area.
In the meantime, we can study the greenway map, support the Friends group and most importantly walk or bike the greenway.
Thanks to Marcia and Brother Hug for leading the hike and making the Buncombe Greenways come alive.