Asheville area breweries throw their weight behind building greenways

Jason Sandford

Jason Sandford is a reporter, writer, blogger and photographer interested in all things Asheville.

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greenway_breweries_asheville_2015Greenway construction is getting a big push these days from the Asheville area’s high-profile craft brewing businesses. With events aimed at showcasing greenways and raising money for them, breweries such as Highland Brewing, Oskar Blues and New Belgium clearly want their customers to get with greenways.

The increased attention from breweries comes as Asheville and Buncombe County governments continue their own efforts to build new greenways and connect existing ones. They green ribbons of pavement are inviting to walkers, runners and bicyclists. They offer alternatives to people seeking ways to cut down on driving, and they often spur other economic development, according to government officials.

The city of Asheville’s Riverfront Redevelopment Office will hold a meeting from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on June 27 at the Carrier Park Pavilion to talk about the five greenway projects that are currently being designed and prepared for construction, according to a press release. Those greenways are: The Clingman Forest Greenway, The Townbranch Greenway, the Beaucatcher Greenway, the French Broad River Westbank’s Greenway (2 segments) and the French Broad River Eastbank Greenway.

Construction of these projects will take place from 2016-2019. When completed, the greenway system of the River Arts District will have 11 miles of continuous greenways. The completion of Beaucatcher Greenway will provide another 1.5 miles. The combined greenway network, the “River to Ridge” will connect the River Arts District to the South Slope neighborhood, downtown and Beaucatcher Mountain.

“We want the public have the opportunity to understand what kind of connected greenway system is about to happen. We’ll be seeking public input at this event on both the French Broad River West Greenway and the Beaucatcher Greenway,” said Lucy Crown, Greenways Coordinator.

In Brevard on Thursday, Oskar Blues will help the city celebrate a new greenway connection. The Cherry Street greenway runs past the Oskar Blues brewery in Brevard, a company that encourages employees to ride. Oskar Blues sponsors a professional mountain biker, and last summer hosted a BMX event. It has a sister company, REEB, that manufactures high-end mountain bikes.

Highland Brewing will host its second annual Night Flight running race on July 11. The event last year had more than 600 entrants and raised $13,044 for charity, and hosted a post-race celebration in Highland’s grassy meadow. The race is a fundraiser for Asheville Parks and Greenways Foundation. From a press release:

“We believe in strong community involvement and are thrilled to be supported by like-minded people. Community-driven events, such as the Night Flight race, help pave the way for more parks and greenway opportunities both present and future,” said Grant DaSantos, Highland Hospitality Manager. Grant also serves on the APGF Board. The APGF will provide volunteers for the event to direct runners, ensuring safety.

Long-range greenway plans create an impressive network of paths in city and county. “We are engaged in the city’s short and long term vision for a connected Asheville,” said Highland President Leah Wong Ashburn. Ale Share, Highland’s beer festival on July 25, will also donate 100% of net proceeds to APGF.

A proposed plan along the Swannanoa River in East Asheville would eventually connect it to Biltmore Village and West Asheville. “Several of our staff would like to bike to work,” said Ashburn. “And imagine biking from brewery to brewery around town. What a dream!”

Highland Brewing and New Belgium have also teamed up to brew Footpath, a Belgian Session Ale, the inaugural beer collaboration of Brewing for Greenways, according to a press release. More:

Two dollars of each pint will benefit Friends of Connect Buncombe to benefit the East AVL greenway, and Footpath will be released at Highland on Friday, June 26 starting at 4 p.m. Friends of Connect Buncombe works with the City and County to support greenway development.

The Brewing for Greenways initiative was developed by Highland and New Belgium as an optional way for brewers to engage in on-going support for greenway development across Buncombe County, now or in the future. Collectively we can make an impact. Other breweries have expressed interest in getting involved and the next collaboration will be announced at the release.

On Sunday, June 28, Asheville on Bikes Summer Cycle will ride the route between New Belgium and Highland to raise awareness of the future greenway plans. Why this section, why now? The current NC DOT State Transportation Improvement Plan has prioritized roadway improvements along this route in the next five years, and is open to bicycle and pedestrian improvements as part of those plans. And, it’s just time to make greenways happen, friends!


For a map on proposed greenways



Jason Sandford

Jason Sandford is a reporter, writer, blogger and photographer interested in all things Asheville.

  • 1

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  1. Jtroop June 11, 2015

    See, beer does make everything better!

  2. Jason June 10, 2015

    Dear New Belgium,
    Please connect the Emma district to your brewery with a greenway.


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