The West Ashley Greenway is two things: easily accessible and easy on the legs. A straight shot running east to west, this ten mile long trail follows Hwy 17 through the heart of West Ashley, making it a convenient path to either try out your first long run, or grab some lunch at South Windermere Shopping Center after a short and quick “work-break” run. Flat, with mixed surfaces, this trail will have something for the pavement runner AND the trail runner. For now, anyway.
With the city in talks to pave the entire pathway, the West Ashley Greenway is currently paved from Folly Road to Stinson Drive. The middle two-thirds of the trail is plain ‘ole hard packed dirt, for those trail runners out there who like a little excitement. The last third of the trail is a gravel surface. Starting out at the Folly Road terminus of the trail, you will wind past houses and businesses alike. There will be a few road crossings here too, so don’t zone out too early in your run. As you get a few miles into the trail however, the pathway leads you away from the housing developments and along the Clemson Agricultural Lab. If you’re looking for a little nature, you’re going to get it in the last few miles of the trail. This section is mostly gravel, and it runs you right along the salt marsh, with more than a few alligators to keep you company. Keep an eye out for egrets, fiddler crabs, and ospreys, as they proliferate here. Now at the end of the trail, it’s time to turn back around and trek it back to civilization.
Who’s Going to Love It This may not be the most remote of trails, but it is a huge convenience for getting on a trail when you don’t have much time to spare. It’s fast and flat, so if you’re looking to beat a PR, then this will be an easy choice for you. The 10 mile length is nice too though, for those distance runners.
What You’ll Remember This trail is an awesome way to explore the area. It weaves you through the neighborhoods of West Ashley as well as the salt marsh, so you get to taste a few things that Charleston has to offer. When you’re done with your run, don’t forget to grab a sandwich at Normandy Farms or a snack at the hot bar from Earth Fare. They are both great options for that post run re-fuel.
Parking, Trailhead and Hours Parking at the West Ashley Greenway will relieve you of your headache from trying to park in downtown Charleston. The parking is abundant at both ends of the trail. South Windermere Shopping Center (pretty much behind Half-Moon Outfitters) is one terminus with parking, and if you head down Hwy 17 South, turn left on Main Street, go 2.5 miles and take the right on McLeod Mill Road, you’ll see the parking area on the left. My suggestion is to go to the McLeod Mill Road terminus, as it starts you off in the estuary and it’s beautiful.
Hours are from dawn to dusk. For more information, check it out here.