Picture this: Riding your bike to work from Henderson County to Asheville, safely, on a paved path protected from the roar and cars of highways I-26 and U.S. 25.
Or walking on a wide, safe, tree-shaded greenway from Enka to Waynesville instead of driving on U.S. 19/23.
Or actually mountain biking from downtown Asheville to the trails of Bent Creek Experimental Forest without having to drive the bike there in a motor vehicle.
These are all visions of Western North Carolina’s Hellbender Regional Trail.
It’s an idea years in the making by the French Broad River Metropolitan Planning Organization, city and county planners and others advocating for safer, healthier and more environmentally friendly places to live, commute and recreate across a great swath of Western North Carolina.
Rather than starting from scratch, the nearly 150-mile trail system would knit together bicycle and pedestrian paths, or greenways, already on the ground and those in the works in Buncombe, Haywood, Henderson, Madison, and Transylvania counties.
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