Discover Black Mountain’s greenways

Fred McCormick

On any given day, particularly spring through fall, you can find runners, walkers and cyclists of all ages traveling along the greenways of Black Mountain.

And thanks to a program created by the town’s greenway commission, the public will have the opportunity to learn a lot more about the popular system of trails over the next four months.

Saturday, April 23 is the first in a series of five tours, collectively known as Greenway Discovery Days. The 10 a.m. tour will focus on the Lake Tomahawk Loop, which circles the lake. Meet at the Lake Tomahawk Pavilion. To find out where to meet up for each walk, visit the Black Mountain Greenways’ page on Facebook.

The series provides an opportunity for members of the community to familiarize themselves further with the greenways that many use every day.

Pam King, a member of the town’s greenway commission, is the chair of the Greenway Discovery program.

“The commission wanted to create a way for citizens to know more about the trails,” she said. “We wanted people to know exactly where they are and different features and interesting history about each trail. Each trail has its own distinctive flavor.”

The Lake Tomahawk greenway tour will take participants around the roughly half-mile loop around the lake. The 90-minute outing will include facts about plants and animals that can be found along the crushed granite trail. And according to King, there will be a history lesson as well.

“One of the things that I didn’t know when we started doing the research for this program is that the area around Lake Tomahawk and the golf course was owned by the United Methodist Church,” King said. “They planned to build a camp there, and that’s why they bought that property. At some point they decided instead to go to Lake Junaluska, and the town (Black Mountain) was able to acquire that property.”

All tours will be held on the fourth Saturday of each month, including the May 28 tour of the Flat Creek Greenway, on which King will be the guide. The tour on June 25 will take participants around the trail at the community garden, which crosses under I-40.

The River Loop Trail, the half-mile path that follows the Swannanoa River in Veterans Park will be the site of the July 23 tour. The series concludes with a tour of the Riverwalk Trail on Aug. 23.

“You can bring a baby stroller on these tours, and if you’re older you can probably manage it,” King said. “There are places to sit down on most of these walks. It will be a pretty gentle experience.”

Tour guides will also explain some of the lesser-known advantages of the greenway system.

“Aside from the fun of being able to have a system where you can get outside to run, walk or bike, it’s a great feature for a town to have,” King said. “It gives people a reason to come to Black Mountain. If you look at other trails, like the Virginia Creeper (in Abingdon, Virginia) or the Swamp Rabbit Trail in South Carolina, they draw huge numbers of visitors.”

Aaron Smithwick did not visit Black Mountain specifically to use the greenways. But he was certainly impressed with the Lake Tomahawk Loop during his recent morning run.

“This is a nice trail,” he said. “We have a lot of trails in Raleigh, but this one definitely as nice as the ones I use there.”

Rachel Russell came to Black Mountain from Denver, Colorado for the first time last week to visit her friend Liz Frost. The two went running with Frost’s dog on morning of April 15.

“It’s great to have this here,” Russell said. “(In) Colorado, we put a lot of emphasis on taking care of open spaces like this, so it’s nice to see that this is being done in other places too.”

As a local resident, Frost uses the trails, particularly the one around the lake, regularly.“I come here probably three times a week,” she said.