Friday, October 2, 2009

Ashland City Bicentennial Greenway

With our exercise goals in mind, we have agreed to walk or hike three or four time each week.  We selected the Ashland City Bicentennial Greenway for today.  This is a rail-trail conversion, so it’s nice and flat.

All over the country there has been in the past several years an effort to convert abandoned railroad beds to trails.  After a rail line has been abandoned, the right of way comes into possession of a governmental unit.  If there is interest in an area for a trail, the governmental unit (state or federal) may be approached for the land.  Through the efforts of volunteers and outdoor enthusiasts groups, the old rail bed is converted to a trail.  The Ashland City Greenway is paved, but many, especially the longer trails, are crushed stone or even dirt.  Having been an old railroad bed, these trails are generally very wide and moderately flat.  Because they are wide with gentle elevation grades, they are popular with bicyclists.  One very popular trail in the east is the Virginia Creeper Trail near Damascus, Virginia.  The trail in Ashland City is only 6.5 miles in length, but there are rail-trail conversions that are hundreds of miles long.  The Katy Trail in Missouri comes to mind which runs from Clinton to Machens, a distance of 237 miles.

Bridge over Sycamore Creek

The Ashland City trail has been converted from the old Tennessee Central Railroad and passes through hardwood forest with limestone bluffs on one side and Sycamore Creek (which runs into the Cumberland River just out of sight of the trail) along the other side.  Railroad ties, rotting and moss-covered at the edge of the trail, are reminders of days gone by.  The path crosses several creeks and the old trestles have been left to support the new wooden bridges. The longest bridge which crosses Sycamore Creek still has the old steel-frame span in the center.  We saw two great blue herons from our vantage point on this bridge.

We stopped at the 4 mile point and had our picnic lunch before turning around and heading back to the truck.  The last time we visited this trail, it had a dirt surface.  We were quite surprised to find this length paved.  Expecting dirt, we had on our hiking boots and were carrying our trekking poles.  We would have been much better off without the poles and wearing tennis shoes.  Nevertheless, we enjoyed our walk and plan to return when the leaves turn.

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