Sand Hill Road Trailwork Coming Soon!

New Project at Hominy Creek Greenway to Enhance Trail Sustainability & Accessibility

By – Emma Castleberry, Trustee 

A major trail project will begin soon on the Hominy Creek Greenway, shutting down access at the Sand Hill Road trailhead for several weeks. The project is spearheaded by the nonprofit Friends of Hominy Creek Greenway (FOHCG) and the Malvern Hills Neighborhood Association and supported by a number of community stakeholders. 

The Hominy Creek Greenway is a natural surface trail and park area owned by the city and stewarded by FOHCG. It’s a critical recreation and transportation resource, offering walking, running, strolling, and biking opportunities to West Asheville and the surrounding neighborhoods. This project will redesign, elevate, and reroute a 500-foot section of the trail to address issues of erosion, stormwater management, and accessibility.

“Though the trail has been in existence for many years, it is in need of investment to secure its future sustainability,” says Kate Millar, treasurer with the Malvern Hills Neighborhood Association. “Malvern Hills Neighborhood Association is proud to help foster expanded access and stewardship of this vital community asset and looks forward to seeing the expansion of greenways and connections for all in this part of the City and County.” 

Currently, the Sand Hill Road trailhead is not ADA-compliant and is often impassable for all users during heavy rainfall because of water that pools on the trail. Furthermore, the bank of Buttermilk Creek on the edge of this section of trail is so heavily eroded that the trail is undercut, creating a safety and stability issue. Stormwater runoff from adjacent areas compounds the problem. These issues not only hinder enjoyment of the greenway but also pose environmental risks.


The Friends completed a major trail project at the Greenway’s Shelburne Road trailhead in 2021. The decision to work on this side of the trail, rather than tackling the interior sections of trail, was intentional. “This way, people can at least access the trail, and it creates two sort of pocket parks on either end,” says FOHCG founding trustee Jack Igelman. 

This project endeavors to enhance what the greenway offers: an immersive natural experience that is still accessible and safe. “I do enjoy the solitude down here,” says Igelman, “but this is not a remote, wilderness trail. We want to invite people to be here and enjoy it regardless of mobility. So we are creating a natural surface trail that stays dry and invites that kind of use.” 


“There are three components of the project,” says Igelman. “Number one is restoring the trail. Number two is restoring the ecology of this acreage, removing the invasives and replanting native plants. And then the third part is a bit of stream bank restoration.” 

This trail project will raise the surface level of the trail to mitigate erosion and establish cross-drainage systems for stormwater management. By rerouting erosive flows during extreme weather events and enhancing drainage, the project aims to create a safer and more sustainable pathway for all users.

The land to the north side of the trail will undergo some grading, ensuring that water flowing down off the slope moves towards Buttermilk and Hominy Creeks rather than sitting in the trail. There will also be terraced areas to the south of the trail that will serve as small floodplains during heavy rains. “Sustainable trail building is all about how you keep water off the trail,” says Igelman. “There will obviously be times when the trail is wet, but it will drain quickly. That’s the design: a trail that will be resilient, even in the face of stormwater.” 

Much of the material needed for the project will come from on-site. “We’ll be moving dirt to raise the trail and create a way for gravity to take the water down to Hominy Creek,” says Igelman.

The completed trail will be 8 feet wide, allowing users plenty of space to pass each other even in crowded times. Part of the project will also include planting native grasses and trees on the edges of the trail and along the banks of Hominy Creek to temper erosion and maintain a healthy ecosystem.

The Friends, with support and oversight from EcoForesters, the City of Asheville, and volunteers have already made great headway on this part of the project by removing invasive plants like privet, multiflora rose and trees of heaven, making room for the native flora to thrive. Native plants are crucial to sustainability because they tend to be more resilient in the face of local weather events. “We’d much rather have native plants–they’re deeply rooted, they belong here and they thrive here,” says Igelman. “Having native bushes and grasses are essential because they provide an ecological service: they keep the soil in place and the roots absorb some of the rainfall, so the land is more resilient to rainfall and big storm events. It will also improve water quality and the slope stability along the creek.” 

Who & How? 

Wildlands Engineering is providing design, permitting, and construction oversight for the project. Volunteer efforts will also play a crucial role in landscaping and forest restoration. 

“We’ve raised roughly 45 thousand and I think that’s pretty true to what it costs to build or restore a trail,” says Igelman. “Several groups have decided this is a worthwhile project. There’s all these different people who are invested in what’s happening here and that gives us a stronger voice.” 

The Pigeon River Fund contributed a $17,000 grant to the project because it addresses the improvement of water quality. “We’re doing stream bank restoration as well as trail restoration, which will improve water quality and reduce sedimentation going into this creek,” says Igelman. 

West Asheville Garden Stroll has also contributed $3500 to the project for invasive removal and to plant native shrubs and trees. Other contributions to the project include: a $5,000 matching neighborhood grant from the City of Asheville; two $5,000 “mini-grants” from Connect Buncombe; a $6,000 recreation grant from Buncombe County; and some donations from private individuals.


“We’ve continued to set the standard for how volunteer groups manage public spaces and I think we should be doing so much more of that around our cities,” says Igelman. “People need to reclaim those public spaces and work with the city to create a public space that benefits everyone, whether everyone contributes or not. I’d love it if we can set the model for the ripple effect of that when people get invested in various parts of their community and take ownership. As Asheville becomes bigger, and new people move in, we don’t want to lose that spirit.” 

The revitalization of the Hominy Creek Greenway exemplifies the power of community partnerships and grassroots efforts in enhancing public spaces. By addressing environmental challenges, promoting accessibility, and fostering community engagement, this project embodies a shared commitment to creating a more vibrant and sustainable future.