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.

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.

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.

Become a Member

Become a member of the Friends of Hominy Creek Greenway!


You will be redirected to the website of our fiscal agent: Asheville GreenWorks. Your membership or donation is tax deductible.

Membership supports our efforts on behalf of the greenway and demonstrates your commitment to Asheville’s greenway future.


Select the membership type that best suits your interest below.

Business Membership  $250

Annual Memberships for Individuals or Families $25-$150

Thank you for your support!

FOHCG Statement on Crossroads at West Asheville development

The Friends of Hominy Creek Greenway has concerns about the scope of the Crossroads at West Asheville development and its impact on Hominy Creek and the Hominy Creek Greenway.

  • Our organization’s mission is to protect the 14 acre community green space and City of Asheville park we have managed and been the stewards since 2011.   
  • The overall size and scope of the development will have an impact on the viewshed due to the placement and height of the structures.
  • The development is on a unique parcel of land within the Hominy Creek watershed and will impact the water quality due to run off from parking lots and construction.
  • An increase in traffic flow in the surrounding neighborhood will impact public safety among pedestrians who use the Hominy Creek Greenway. 

The Friends of Hominy Creek Greenway seek the opportunity to work with the developer, the State of North Carolina, Buncombe County, and the City of Asheville to implement the following:

  • That the developer repair the eroding stream bank on their property and create a substantial buffer of woody plants along Hominy Creek to protect it from runoff and other impacts during and after construction of the development. 
  • That the developer examine how the size and placement of structures and parking lots will impact the viewshed of users of the Hominy Creek Greenway and adapt to minimize the impact on the viewshed.
  • That the developer use low-impact construction practices and building techniques to capture and filter stormwater runoff to minimize the impact on Hominy Creek.
  • That Buncombe County require the developer build a section of greenway that is open to the public. A new or established community group, such as the Friends of Hominy Creek Greenway, could serve as stewards.
  • That Buncombe County and the City of Asheville add and improve pedestrian infrastructure to accommodate the potential increase in use of the Hominy Creek Greenway by the residents of the development and members of the community surrounding the Hominy Creek Greenway.  
  • That the State of North Carolina consider improvements to I-240/I-26 access ramps and an additional access ramp at Bear Creek Road and I-240/I-26 to minimize traffic flow onto side streets in the surrounding community.

Please contact FOHCG Inc. president Bryan Tomes for comment.

CONTACT: Bryan Tomes, 828-772-5542 or

Crossroads at West Asheville development

Last week, several past and present FOHCG board members attended an open house at Crossroads Baptist Church to review plans for a development on the land on the opposite side of the Hominy Creek Greenway. The proposal includes 384 apartments,  50 low-rise apartments, 56 vacation rentals, 150 senior housing units, 64 single family units, 11,000 square feet of retail space and 40,000 square feet of office space.

The FOHCG have numerous concerns due to the size and scope of the project. The FOHCG Board of Trustees are in the process of developing a position statement on the development.

The developer will present at the Buncombe County Board of Adjustments meeting on Wednesday October 9 at 12:00 pm at 30 Valley Street in Asheville.

From the Board of Adjustments agenda:

Warren Sugg of Civil Design Concepts, on behalf of Catalyst Capital Partners, has applied for a Conditional Use Permit pursuant to the Zoning Ordinance of Buncombe County, Sec. 78-641(a), 678(b)(6), and 678(b)(9) Conditional Use Standards, to establish a Planned Mixed Use Development (Level 1) for multi-family residential, commercial, and vacation rental developments on tax lot PINs 9627-79-7125 and 9627-89- 6780 (20 S. Bear Creek Rd);

Click here to review the site plan: CrossroadsSitePlan.

Join us for a picnic on May 19

Join us for a picnic on the Hominy Creek Greenway:
When: Friday May 19 5:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m. 

Where: Cornbread Junction near the Sand Hill Road trailhead.

What: Celebrate the Hominy Creek Greenway with members of the FOHCG Inc. Board of Trustees and members of the community. 

BYO beverage and BYO chair. We’ll provide the grillables and sides.