West Ashley Bikeway
By Claire Vaughan
West Ashley Bikeway trails. Photo by the author.
The West Ashley Bikeway is a paved biking and walking trail that extends through several neighborhoods, starting at the Ashley River and ending at Wappoo Road. Similar to the West Ashley Greenway, the bikeway was a former railroad that has been converted to a convenient path for the residents of these neighborhoods.
The trailhead is located near the Ashley River. The trail itself meets the river at a lookout point, providing viewers with a peaceful scene of the water and surrounding marsh. Stepping away from the lookout, the smoothly paved trail continues, lined with trees and other greenery. A quiet stream follows the edge of the path for a while. When passing the Forest Park Playground, sounds of children playing or basketballs bouncing add liveliness to the laid-back environment. After the first section of the trail, the walker or biker must cross St. Andrew’s Boulevard to continue; while this crossing is not the most convenient aspect of the trail, its residential location on the other side of the highway makes up for it.
Weaving through different neighborhoods, the trail works to draw those who live nearby closer together. It is a kind of gathering place for people who would not normally interact to share a wave or a greeting. As I am one of those residents, I greatly appreciate this aspect of the trail. I feel more connected to the community around me when utilizing the simple yet valuable nature of the bikeway.
It is important to note that one of the neighborhoods the bikeway passes through is known as Maryville. This residential area was previously a charter territory (1886) with a majority black population. The town was unique in that it allowed its members to form a self-sufficient community and government. Black people in Maryville were able to buy land, create a government and elect officials during the Jim Crow period. In recognizing the powerful history behind this neighborhood, it is no wonder the bikeway has such a feeling of community and togetherness. The people of historic Maryville laid this foundation through strength, and the bikeway is just one example of the interconnectedness found in these neighborhoods.
Length: 2.5 miles
Location: runs from the Ashley River to Wappoo Road
Owned and operated by: Charleston Department of Parks