By Bill Poteat firstname.lastname@example.org
EDITOR's NOTE: The following column by Bill Poteat is the first in a series which will run each Saturday through the end of October and highlight great places to walk, hike, bike, or jog in Gaston County. Today, Poteat takes a look at the Avon/Catawba Creek Greenway.
If you're looking for a trail marked by punishing hills sure to help get you in shape for that push up Kilimanjaro, the Avon/Catawba Creek Greenway is probably not for you. It's flat.
Or if you're looking for a walk on which you can catch a lot of rays and deepen that tan before heading south to Cancun, this greenway is not a good choice either. Way too much shade.
But if you're looking for a quiet, peaceful, shaded and blessedly flat trail upon which to walk, jog or bike, this beautiful green way in Gastonia is just about perfect.
LOCATION The primary access point for this greenway is just south of Lineberger Park at the intersection of Garrison Boulevard and Fern Forest Drive. The attractive, well-landscaped parking lot can hold about three dozen cars.
Just across the street, where the wide, paved trail begins, are exercise stations, a Zagster bike station, a water fountain, a pet waste bag dispenser, a "little library" book stop and a bench. Keep that bench in mind; you might want to use it later.
Although I also walked the spur out to Ferguson Park, I'm going to focus on the "straight shot" between Lineberger Park and Robinwood Road, a distance of about 4.5 miles out and back.
The jaunt out to Ferguson Park has a big hill, it gets very urban very quickly, and the tree canopy gives way to open sky and broiling sun.
HOURS The Avon/Catawba Creek Greenway is open from 30 minutes before sunrise to 30 minutes after sunset, seven days a week.
HIGHLIGHTS The first 1.09 miles of the green way closely follows Avon Creek. This stretch is heavily wooded, very verdant, and seems a million miles removed from the business and noise of downtown and of Franklin Boulevard.
At the 1.10-mile mark, just above where Avon Creek and Catawba Creek come together, are a pair of port-a-potties, a picnic table and an exercise station. A great spot to take a breather and perhaps enjoy a snack and a drink of water.
After crossing Catawba Creek on a pedestrian bridge, the greenway continues south and ,east, crossing under and then paralleling Hudson Boulevard, with a couple of accesses to the neighborhoods north of Hudson.
At a little less than the two-mile mark, the green way enters a beautiful, open meadow with benches and picnic tables.
Here too is a memorial to the late Gary A. Mims, inscribed with the words, "Gary A. Mims. 1955 to 2014. Dedicated advocate for this greenway and outdoor recreation in Gaston County."
At about 2.10 miles, the trail passes beneath Robinwood Road, then climbs steeply up to the road itself, ending on the sidewalk. Just a couple of hundred yards up the hill is the new Warlick Family YMCA, making the green way a perfect target for Y members who want to get in a long, outdoor run.
MY VERDICT Everything about this greenway is great. The trees, the quiet, the beautiful landscaping. This truly is a showplace for Gastonia.
And, I applaud the numerous access points to communities along its length, proving that greenways can be not only recreational but functional.
As noted, the Warlick YMCA is adjacent to the southern terminus and both the Schiele Museum and the main branch of the Gaston Public Library are easy strolls from the northern end.
With my walking out the spur to Ferguson Park and a little beyond, I logged 6.65 miles on a hot and humid late August morning.
Trust me. That bench at the end felt mighty fine.
Bill Poteat, who would always rather be outside than in, may be reached at 704-869-1855.