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.

Ecological Restoration Plan for Hominy Creek Greenway

Much of the Hominy Creek Greenway property’s vegetative community is dominated by non-native invasive species (NNIS). Species such as multiflora rose, Chinese privet, Japanese knotweed, English ivy and many others have outcompeted native species, taking over much of the herbaceous and shrub layers and threatening native tree health via climbing vines. A vegetative community dominated by NNIS greatly reduces ecological value and threatens the abundance and diversity of native pollinators and wildlife.

In an effort to combat the Greenway’s NNIS problem and begin restoring a native plant community, the Friends of Hominy Creek Greenway (FOHCG) Board of Trustees is working with EcoForesters (EF), a local non-profit professional forestry organization, to chemically treat NNIS on a large scale. While FOHCG board members and volunteers have worked for years to keep NNIS at bay, hand-pulling and cutting can only go so far in addressing such a large-scale issue. By incorporating chemical treatment via foliar spray, cut stump, and other techniques, FOHCG and EF can effectively treat vast portions of the greenway that would not be feasible or have such lasting results otherwise.

The current focal area of the Greenway for native reforestation is at the Sand Hill Road end of the trail – both the trailside portions leading from the trailhead to just past the picnic tables and the portion on the other side of Buttermilk Creek. These areas were bush hogged in late summer of 2023 and chemically treated by EF and FOHCG in early September. Additional treatment may take place prior to the dormant season of late October. The next step is to replant the treated areas with native vegetation. Native trees, shrubs, and herbaceous species will be planted in the fall of 2023 and/or the spring of 2024. Expertise on topics such as species selection, planting density, and follow-up management will be provided by community volunteer members with professional background in native plant composition and care. Plants will be sourced from Greenworks and other local nurseries and growers.

As the project progresses, the aim to is to also address Buttermilk Creek. In its current state, the creek is extremely downcut and the stream banks are severely eroded and even undercut in certain locations. These conditions contribute to sedimentation in downstream waters (Hominy Creek and the French Broad River), a detriment to water quality, and result in unstable and treacherous stream-side terrain. To address these issues, FOHCG will work with EF to treat NNIS growing in and adjacent to the stream and with Wildlands Engineering to regrade the stream banks to restore a level of stability to the system by reducing erosive forces of high velocity flows. Once NNIS and stream bank grading have occurred, native riparian vegetation will be planted to increase bank stability, reduce erosion during high flow events, and improve the overall stream and stream-side habitat quality.

By restoring native vegetation and improving stream habitat and water quality, native pollinators and other wildlife species will benefit. Monarch butterflies, migratory birds, rare freshwater mussels, imperiled bats, and many other taxa inhabit the greater areas of the Greenway, Hominy Creek, and the French Broad River downstream. With the ever-increasing threats to wildlife from habitat loss and degradation, opportunities to restore habitat play an important role in ensuring that species have access to the resources needed for supporting their life stages.

FOHCG is excited to be embarking on these ecological restoration efforts – a chance to greatly improve the biological integrity to a beloved area for the benefit of community members and native flora and fauna alike. The support of partners, donors, and volunteer members makes this undertaking possible!

Trail Restoration and Reforestation Projects

If you’re a regular user of the Hominy Creek Greenway, you’ve probably noticed the removal of shrubs and ground cover at both trailheads. One of the FOHCG’s strategic priorities is to ensure that the parkland is ecologically sustainable. We’ve partnered with Asheville based EcoForesters to manage exotic plants and replace them with native trees and shrubs. In July, City of Asheville park employees dedicated several days to remove invasive plants from the landscape. Over the course of decades, invasive plants have spread throughout the parkland. Oriental bittersweet, Chinese privet, tree-of-heaven, Japanese honeysuckle, and many others. The populations of nonnative plants have harmful impacts on the landscape such as displacing native plant populations.

The clearing is also the first phase of a project  to redesign, improve, and reroute 500 feet of the Hominy Creek Greenway to create a sustainable pathway that more effectively manages stormwater. We hope the improvement will make the Greenway more accessible too. The plan involves raising the natural surface pathway at the Sand Hill Road trailhead, creating swales and cross-drainage to capture, store and redirect stormwater in order to reduce erosion, and improve the trail user experience. Depending on weather conditions, we hope to begin the project this fall.

This project is in partnership with the Malvern Hills Neighborhood Association. We are also grateful for financial support from our members; Connect Buncombe, the City of Asheville, Wildlands Engineering, the West Asheville Garden Stroll, Buncombe County, the Bicycle Thrift Store, Asheville on Bikes, and Asheville GreenWorks.

Bear Creek Development Statement of Trustees

The Friends of Hominy Creek Greenway Board of Trustees share the communities’ anguish regarding the Bear Creek development adjacent to the Hominy Creek Greenway in West Asheville. The loss of tree cover; the impact on the riparian buffer and water quality; increased traffic; the harm to the landscape, wildlife habitat and viewshed; the loss of tranquility; are among a few of the prevailing concerns.

The Trustees understand the need for additional housing, but we also endorse the urgency of protecting green space as development accelerates in our community. We look forward to the opportunity to engage with citizens, developers, and local government to ensure the stream and the Hominy Creek Greenway are protected.

The Board of Trustees reaffirm our commitment to protecting Asheville’s endangered green and blue assets for all to enjoy. We are eager to continue to serve as a competent and vigorous voice for thoughtful development that prioritizes the stewardship of current and future public green spaces.

Please join us if you wish to serve as a champion of the Hominy Creek Greenway and Asheville’s endangered green spaces.

Download full Press Release Statement >

Greenway Trail Project Underway

This spring the Friends of Hominy Creek Greenway will launch a project to improve eight sections of the greenway path impacted by rainfall and erosion. The project area will include sections of trail from the Shelburne Road trailhead to portions of the trail near the “beach”.

The objective of the trail project is to redesign, improve, and reroute sections of trail to create a sustainable pathway that reduces erosion and improves the trail user experience.

The project is funded by a grant from Buncombe County Recreational Services and funds from members and donors of the Friends of Hominy Creek Greenway.  Wildlands Engineering, Inc. is providing an in-kind donation to design and manage the project.  The City of Asheville, Asheville GreenWorks, and Asheville on Bikes will provide guidance and resources.

The estimated cost of the project is $25,000.

Construction will begin in April 2021 and continue throughout the summer.

The Problem

Over the last several years, heavy rainfall, gravity and increased traffic on the greenway has accelerated erosion. 2020 was Asheville’s fourth wettest on record. As a result, frequent wet and muddy trail conditions have blocked access and a network of unsustainable trails has formed.

Runoff from higher elevations tends to settle on sections of the trail. An increase in the volume of users over time causes the wet trail surface to pack and settle. The impact forms ruts on the trail that catch and hold water during rains. Rather than flowing across the trail, water rushes down the pathway. Over time, water channeling down the trail gains velocity and energy, washing away more soil and cutting deeper into the trail. The combination of forces compounds the rate of erosion. As trail conditions degrade, water is held on the path longer. The results are impassable sections of trail following heavy rainfall or periods of sustained precipitation.

The Solution

The Friends of Hominy Creek, in collaboration with Wildlands Engineering, has developed a plan that will improve sections of the trail, address drainage, and reroute sections of trail. FOHCG volunteer and civil engineer, Jake McLean of Wildlands Engineering, is the lead designer. In addition to Jake’s personal time, Wildlands Engineering is donating time and equipment to design and supervise construction.

The plan involves raising the trail in several areas; creating swales, levies, and other elements to capture, store and redirect rainfall and runoff. A portion of the project will re-slope the access road at the Shelburne trailhead and redirect runoff from the roadway. Several sections of the trail will also be resurfaced. 

Contact Information:

For more information about the project or concerns, contact former FOHCG president Jack Igelman. He can be reached at

Please welcome our new board members

The Friends of Hominy Creek would like to welcome our new trustees: Alex Blue and Christopher Arbor. We would also like to express our gratitude to the service of two outgoing board members, Renee Fortner and Nancy Watford.

Nancy Watford is a founding board member of the FOHCG and played a leading role in securing a $25,000 grant from Buncombe County that funded invasive plant removal and the construction of kiosks, information signs, and our work shed. In addition, Nancy has helped bring the vision of the organization into function. Thank you for your service Nancy.

Among her many contributions to the Hominy Creek Greenway, Renee Fortner took charge of our volunteer program and led countless volunteer work days on the greenway. Among the volunteer projects she coordinated was improving the landscape surrounding the work shed by planting native species and removing invasive plants. Renee has also played a crucial role in keeping the vision of the organization alive. Thank you for your service Renee.

Alex Blue joined the board of trustees in November, 2019 and is from Eastern North Carolina. She came to Asheville to attend UNC Asheville and graduated in 2017 with a degree in environmental science. While attending school she completed a fellowship with the local environmental nonprofit, RiverLink. She later returned to Riverlink to complete a year service as the organization’s AmeriCorp Volunteer Coordinator. Alex currently works for the horticulture department at the Biltmore Estate where she removes non-native invasive plants and preserves native & natural landscapes. Alex also has the cutest hound dog in Asheville named Ruby. On a sunny spring day you can find Ruby and Alex floating down the French Broad River.

Christopher Arbor joined the board of trustees in November 2019.  He was born in the North Carolina Piedmont but knew from a young age that the mountains would always be his home. He attended summer camp outside of Brevard, enrolled at Warren Wilson College in Swannanoa, then transferred to UNC Asheville.  After graduating, he enrolled in AmeriCorps, and while he could travel anywhere in the United States; he opted to stay in Asheville. Since then he’s taught English at The Outdoor Academy and World Studies at the Asheville School. During breaks from work, you can find him fighting non-native invasive plant species, planting trees, and running through the woods.

Crossroads development application WITHDRAWN

Exciting news regarding the Crossroads development. The developers have withdrawn the proposal.

We’ll keep the community updated on future plans for the site. There is speculation that the developers will resubmit another proposal in the future.

Stay tuned.

Here is the latest story from the Asheville Citizen-Times regarding the proposal:

Crossroads development: decision postponed

The Buncombe County Board of Adjustments postponed a decision on the Crossroads development until the January meeting. After 7.5 hours of testimony, additional time was needed.

See the Asheville Citizen-Times coverage of the marathon meeting:

Maybe the fourth time will be the charm?

After a marathon seven-and-a-half-hour meeting on Dec. 11, mostly on the proposed 802-unit Crossroads at West Asheville apartment complex, the Board of Adjustment agreed to continue the quasi-judicial hearing on the proposal to January.

The meeting convened at noon but the official hearing didn’t start until almost 1 p.m. By 7:30 p.m., the board had heard from a slew of experts and nearby residents offering sworn testimony, as well as detailed questioning by both sides’ lawyers. When it became clear the hearing — not to mention public comment and board deliberations — would continue for several more hours, Chairman Martin Moore suggested postponement.

“Even if we’re going at this pace, there’s a good chance we’re going to be here until 1 o’clock in the morning,” Moore said.

Board Member George Lycan said the proposal, which also calls for 14,400 square feet of retail space, 50,400 square feet of office space and 64,000 square feet of self-storage, is “the biggest project we’ve ever had in this county.

“It’s very complex — it’s upwards of half a billion dollars,” Lycan said. “It’s just too important to rush this and run into heavy fatigue and work until we’re all worn out, and not do it properly for both sides of this issue.”

So, the Board of Adjustment, which has the final say on the project, will hold a special session at 9 a.m. Jan. 23.

The proposal has been controversial, with neighbors and residents of nearby Malvern Hills saying it’s just too large, will drastically increase traffic and could have negative environmental impacts, including harm to Hominy Creek.

At the hearing, developers said they are addressing water runoff concerns with retention ponds and by building a mile of public greenway through the project. Also, siting the 20 buildings away from the creek and leaving 42% of the property undisturbed will reduce the environmental impact, they said.

The 68-acre property, bordered by South Bear Creek and Sand Hill roads and Interstate 240, lies just outside the Asheville city limits. Buncombe County has it zoned “public service,” which allows for apartments. But that is a conditional use that requires board approval.

Read the full article HERE.

Community Open House – Crossroads project

On December 2 the developers hosted a community open house for the proposed Crossroads at West Asheville project.

You can read an article about that meeting in the Asheville Citizen-Times. The headline is “Crossroads plan gains little favor with neighbors”.

From the article:

A proposed major development remains a tough sell to nearby residents, many of whom are opposed to the project’s size and scope, even after hearing about its backstory and some plan changes.

At a Dec. 2 community meeting — the second on the Crossroads at West Asheville proposal — developers remained firm that they’ll build 802 apartment units…

The proposal will return  to the Buncombe County Board of Adjustment — for a third and supposedly final time — on Dec. 11. The appointed board will hold a quasi-judicial hearing on the project and likely make a final decision then…

On Dec. 2, about three dozen local residents attended the community meeting at Crossroads Asheville church. While a few expressed ambivalence about the project, many made it clear they’re still not happy with the its scale and potential impacts on traffic and the nearby Hominy Creek.

Developers listened and exchanged viewpoints with neighbors, but they remained committed to that 802-unit figure, which opponents say makes it the largest apartment development in Western North Carolina.

You can also read a letter to “whom it may concern” regarding the project from the developer.

CatCap Crossroads info 12-2-19

Community Open House Dec 2, 4 – 6 pm

The developers of Crossroads will be hosting a public information open house to discuss the project.

The meeting will be help Monday, December 22 from 4 – 6 pm on the Crossroads property.

From a letter dated November 22:

On behalf of Catalyst Capital Partners, this letter serves as a notification that there will be a second voluntary informational community open house meeting to discuss the proposed project at 20 South Bear Creek Rd. This letter has been sent to all property owners within 1,000 feet of the subject property.
The informal open house is scheduled for Monday, December 2nd from 4:00 pm to 6:00 pm. The meeting will be located on-site at the property and include a short walking tour of the property. We suggest parking at the Crossroads Church at 20 S. Bear Creek, Asheville, NC 28806 and then walking to the Meeting Location (covered pavilion) as outlined on the map below. After a short walking tour (and the sun sets), Room 109 at the Crossroads Church will be made available for further discussions.


Copies of the proposed project area and designs will be on display. Members of the development and design teams will be present to answer questions regarding the proposed development.


A map of the property is below with site of the pavillion.