If you live in or around Athens, GA – you simply must explore the North Oconee Greenway – especially if you are a runner.
The Greenway is one of Athens’ best amenities, but it’s one of those things that you may have heard of…but never really tried out. So here’s what it’s like…
Distance – 3.5 miles from Dudley Park to Sandy Creek Nature Center building (officially 4.1 if you start at the Mill on Williams St.)
Directions (click here for Google Map)
Nuisance Factors – All concrete all the way. 3 intersections to cross at E. Broad St., North Ave., and College Ave. The occasional Lance Armstrong wannabe, off-leash dog, and Sewage Plant stink.
Bonus Factors – Not busy. Beautiful. Convenient. Off the road. Good distance. The trail is 90% flat. It ends at the beginning of Cook’s Trail – so you can put together a full 16 mile round trip run – all off road. Public bathrooms and water fountains are available inside and around the back of the Sandy Creek Nature Center building. It’s easy to mix up the route by detouring up various streets, like MLK, Hickory, Wilkerson, etc.
I can’t reiterate the fact enough that it connects to Cook’s Greenway Trail at Sandy Creek Nature Center. If you start over on the UGA Campus – you can put together a full 16 mile run (which I’ve done a couple times), completely out of traffic along a scenic river. It’s seriously incredible. There’s not that many cities with something like that.
In fact – I’ve never done it, but you really could add on the Lakeside Trail at Sandy Creek Park to make it 20+ miles (ie, great for marathon training).
Yes – I took that picture, not out of voyeurism – but to show exactly where some rumors about the Greenway get started. Whenever I tell anyone about the Greenway, I get 1 of 2 reactions. Either the person says “That sounds cool – never heard of it. I’ll check it out” or they say “it’s where? I bet it’s over-run with drug dealers and crime. I would never go on it.”
Ok, the bad rumors about the Greenway revolve around this spot on North Ave. – there’s a homeless shelter there, train tracks, and a big roomy bridge where Athens’ homeless people hangout. That’s it. Seriously.
In 9 years there has been 1 high profile assault on the Greenway which didn’t have anything to do with the Greenway being the Greenway – and had everything to do with an escaped convict on a tragic, awful 1 day crime spree.
So yeah, don’t be stupid. Don’t run at night (it’s closed at night anyway). Tell someone where you are headed. But don’t be freaked out by the homeless people on North Ave or any paranoid rumors. Flagpole Magazine had a great write up about safety on the Greenway if you are interested in more info.
Besides – the more people who use it – the safer it becomes. Now back to the pictures.