Black Bear Half Marathon – A Huge Success!

Photo: Daphne Kirkwood, iDaph Events

On a rainy October Saturday, the Oklawaha Greenway hosted the inaugural Black Bear Half Marathon. The race attracted  runners from all over the U.S., including California, Texas, Florida, Iowa and Kentucky. Approximately one-third of the 160  participants stayed overnight in the Hendersonville area.

The race was organized by
iDaph Events. owner and race director, Daphne Kirkwood was very pleased with the turnout. "Almost half of our runners said this was their first half marathon ever, so that on top of the weather was even more impressive. It was inspiring to see how many runners have taken up endurance running during the pandemic and how many have stayed dedicated to long distance training despite most running events being canceled this year."

The race was the first ever half marathon held in Hendersonville. It was a safe, socially distanced race during a difficult year. Top female finisher was Shelby Jaramillo from Greenville and Mathew Leonard from Johnson City was the top male.

Purchase a T-Shirt and Help Spread the Word!

The Friends of the Oklawaha are a team of volunteers who work to advocate for improving and expanding Henderson County's greenway network. Our T-shirts help fund greenway projects as well as spread the word about the Oklawaha as a wonderful community resource. We hope these soft, tan and green, all-cotton T-shirts will work as conversation starters!

Buy one today! Our logo T-shirts are currenlty on sale for only $5 each. To purchase,
 visit our website page and click: send an email. If you would like to make a donation to Friends of the Oklawaha, please follow the instructions on our donation web page.


Planting Begins in Greenway’s New
Native Plants Garden

Over fifty new native trees, shrubs and ferns have been planted in the gardens around the Oklawaha Greenway’s red Kiosk. The plants were carefully selected to withstand the Greenway’s occasional flooding.  Attractive stone barriers will help protect the new plants from flood currents. Pollinators will be added to the garden in the spring for year around color. MountainTrue, Conserving Carolina, the Hendersonville Tree Board, the Friends of the Oklawaha Greenway and numerous private donors are making the garden possible. The garden is in memory of Wes Burlingame, whose love of all things botanical made our community a better place to live.

City of Hendersonville Wins Fourth Grant
to Develop Clear Creek Greenway


The City of Hendersonville now has nearly $2.5 million available to complete the new Clear Creek Greenway.  It will connect to the Oklawaha Greenway near Berkeley Mills Park and then go to Lakewood Road on the far side of I-26. Grants for the new Greenway include $1.68 million from the state’s Department of Transportation, $376,000 from the state’s Parks and Recreation Trust Fund, a new grant for $150,000 from the state’s Water Resources Development Grant Program, and the initial grant of $250,000 from Carolina Village. The route will generally follow Clear Creek from the Mud Creek confluence to Allen Branch, and then follow Allen Branch to Lakewood Road. 

The new Greenway is still in the early stages of design, and a date has not yet been set to start construction.  However once construction begins, the Greenway should be completed within a year. The North Carolina Department of Transportation has incorporated the Greenway into its plans for I-26 improvements so crossing the interstate will not be a problem.

Kevin Rhodes, Friend of the Greenway

Kevin Rhodes supervises the Parks Division of the City of Hendersonville’s Public Works Department. His team is responsible for maintaining the City’s section of the Oklawaha Greenway, which runs from 7th Avenue to Berkeley Mills Park. They mow the Greenway and blow off the trail once a week, mulch around trees and landscape beds, maintain plants and pollinator gardens, maintain flood control cutouts and periodically take the water truck to wash down the trail.

After large weather events, the Parks crew works as quickly as possible to clean up the trail. They remove fallen trees and branches and scrape off any silt following flooding. The public may notice mud on the trail after immediately flooding because silt cannot be scraped until it has had time to dry.

Kevin’s crew appreciates the help of greenway users in keeping the trail clean for everyone to enjoy. If you see litter please take a minute to pick it up and throw it away. 

The public can contact the Public Works Department at (828) 697-3084 with questions or concerns about Greenway maintenance. Note: Henderson County maintains the section of the Greenway between Jackson Park and Four Season Boulevard. They can be reached at 828-697-4884.

Regional Planning: Hellbender Trail

(Note: the following information was taken from a longer article in Blue Ridge Outdoors Magazine entitled Give a Town a Trail.

Tristan Winkler, director of the French Broad River Metropolitan Planning Organization, is working on the Hellbender Trail. The plan is to connect five counties in western North Carolina, including the communities of Asheville, Hendersonville, and Brevard, through 150 miles of greenways.

“It bubbled up from the local levels,” Winkler said. “There have been a lot of bicycle, pedestrian, and greenway plans done in the different municipalities and jurisdictions in our region. We looked at all of these local plans and saw if you start to stitch them together, you really start to put together a big regional system.”

Other multi-use long distance trails in the region, like the C&O Canal Towpath and Virginia Creeper Trail, have proven to be big draws for recreationalists looking for multi-day adventures. The Hellbender Trail focuses on connections across county lines, a sort of interstate system for pedestrians and cyclists. 

Eagle Scout Project Adds Pollinator Beds
Along Oklawaha

Boy Scout Nathan Lindsey and his companions planted pollinator beds in the newly cleared large meadow near North Main Street for his Eagle Scout project. Nathan's project is a welcome addition to the greenway.
Pet-etiquette PLEASE!

If you take pets on the Greenway please make sure they do not disturb other Greenway users. Even friendly dogs can be frightening to those who are not familiar with dogs, and dogs on long leads can be dangerous to bikers.

Several pet waste stations have been placed along the Greenway to support pet owners. Please make use of them!
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