If it were a river, the North Augusta Greenway would be the kind of leisurely float trip where one can enjoy miles of beautiful scenery without a whole lot of effort.
Built on an abandoned Norfolk Southern railroad right of way, the multi-purpose trail runs seven-plus miles with a grade so gradual, it's hard to tell if you're riding up or down the incline.
While you might think the Greeneway's moniker describes its lush setting, it was named after Thomas W. Greene, who served as the mayor of the city of North Augusta from 1985 to 1997 and was instrumental in the trail's creation.
Four parking areas provide access to the paved passage, designated a National Recreation Trail. When I rode it recently, I started at its eastern end near the River Club Golf Course. I hadn't peddled far before I came to two short tunnels.
Just past the second tunnel is Brick Pond Park, a little gem of a green space not to be missed. Not much farther up you'll come to a 1.5-mile spur trail that will take you to the Savannah River and Boeckh Park. I'll tell you more about both of these lovely diversions in upcoming blog posts.
The main trail is mostly flat, climbing less than 200 feet as it winds its way through residential neighborhoods and wooded alcoves. But you won't see much development thanks to a 100-foot wide forested right-of-way that provides habitat for native birds, deer and other wildlife.
Shaded by a canopy of trees, the trail is popular with cyclists, skaters, joggers and dog walkers. Tunnels and bridges allow users to avoid busy road crossings. There are a few streets to cross, but they're mostly neighborhood roads with little traffic. The busier Pisgah Road features a traffic-light-controlled crossing.
About a third of the way up the trail is Riverview Park, a 150-acre recreational wonderland with baseball and softball diamonds, a seven-court tennis complex, two playground areas, batting cages, soccer fields, an 18-hole disc golf course and a covered picnic pavilion.
The centerpiece of the park is the 94,000-square-foot Riverview Park Activities Center, boasting four gymnasiums, two racquetball courts and a weight and fitness area. Its most unique feature is a 15-foot wide indoor walking/jogging track overlooking the park and the Savannah River.
A mile past Riverview Park is the Greeneway Bridge, a cool steel pedestrian structure built in 1999. From there, it's just another 1.5 miles to the trail's current western terminus at Pisgah Road.
The main trail runs just short of 5.5 miles one way. Park benches and several water fountains - even one for Fido - are provided along the path.
For more information on the Greeneway or directions to the four parking areas, click here.