More than 30 miles of greenways snake through Huntsville and Madison, following natural passageways with rushing creeks, green fields and hardwood forests. From the farm fields of Madison to the shores of the Tennessee River in southeast Huntsville, these paved pathways give locals several excellent places to bike, walk, run or skate. Because these corridors are free of motorized traffic, they provide safe places for people to pursue healthy, active lifestyles.
And there’s plenty more on the horizon, too: If city planners meet their long-term goals, the area will eventually boast more than 200 miles of greenways.
If you’re looking for a new place to get some exercise and enjoy the outdoors, check out the following 10 greenways in Huntsville and Madison. In this list are places that span a variety of interests, whether you’re looking for kid-friendly spot, a more secluded path, or an especially long route for an extended workout—or escape into the outdoors.
1. Big Cove Greenway
Beginning in a Hampton Cove neighborhood, the Big Cove Greenway follows Big Cove creek and hugs a narrow lane of trees as it stretches south toward Old Highway 431. In this northern section of the greenway, houses are visible and you’ll hear plenty of traffic, but south of the highway the path explores a remote hallway of thick woods and enters the Hays Nature Preserve. In the preserve, you can continue on the 1.8-mile Flint River Greenway to complete what is certainly one of the city’s finest stretches of paved trails. While there is no designated parking area in the Hampton Cove neighborhood, parking is available at trailheads on Old Highway 431 and in the Hays Nature Preserve.
2. Little Cove Greenway
From the trailhead near Hampton Cove Middle School, the Little Cove Greenway runs parallel to Old Highway 431 and skirts several Hampton Cove neighborhoods. In its northern section, the greenway eventually turns east and ends at the Flint River. A little less "green" than some other greenways in Huntsville, this path follows a large, busy road and feels more like a neighborhood walking and running path than a natural corridor. However, it does allow you to put together a long run or ride, and it’s very convenient for residents in the area. If you go, park at the trailhead on Old Highway 431, or at Hampton Cove Elementary School.
3. Flint River Greenway
Whether you begin at its northern or southern end, the Flint River Greenway boasts one of the most natural and attractive paved corridors in town. From the southern trailhead in Hays Nature Preserve, you’ll soon take a bridge over the Flint River and then begin a tranquil trip through vast green fields and dense woodlands. Here, there are no neighborhoods or little if any city noise. Continuing north, you’ll cross the river again and pass through more broad pastures and thick woods, finally reaching open farmland. If you go, there is a large parking area off Old Highway 431, and parking is available in Hays Nature Preserve.
4. Atwood Linear Park Greenway
The relatively short Atwood Linear Greenway is popular with people who live in the nearby Flemington Heights and Willowbrook communities, as well as people visiting Jones Farm Park. It’s good for a quick escape, whether you want to run, walk or bike. From the northern end, the path parallels Aldridge Creek, which at this point looks more like a drainage ditch than a creek and isn’t all that attractive. However, a wide green lawn runs between the creek and the greenway path, so the place feels open and inviting. Plus, trees border the path to add some visual interest, and you’ll proceed past quiet neighborhoods, making this a peaceful destination. At its southern end, the path ends at a neighborhood street. If you go, the best place to park is at Jones Farm Park.
5. Gateway Greenway
The shortest greenway in Huntsville, Gateway explores a revitalized section of town known for food, entertainment, and an expanding system of small parks. Surrounded by roads, bridges, and office buildings, this is a very urban trek. From Pratt Avenue, the Gateway Greenway parallels Meridian Street and passes through Bud Cramer Park, which features a playground. From here, you could hop across the street to get a beer or bite to eat at the Furniture Factory or AM Booth’s Lumberyard. Continuing southwest, the path hugs the Five Points Ditch, a small burbling creek that has received a facelift and is prettier than its name implies. Farther on, you’ll go beneath overpasses to the reach the Huntsville Madison County Veterans Memorial park. If you go, there are plenty of places to park along Meridian Street.
6. Aldridge Creek Greenway
Aldridge Creek is one of the longest greenways in Huntsville, and the character of the trail is very different at its northern and southern ends. In the north, near Ken Johnston Park, the path hugs a section of Aldridge creek that’s more urban drainage that natural stream. Here, you’re very much surrounded by civilization, with houses nearby and traffic noise from Bailey Cove Road. But, the southernmost section near Ditto Landing includes a long stretch where the path feels more remote and the creek runs wide and swift. In its middle section, the greenway returns to civilization, but it’s still a nice retreat if you typically run or bike on city sidewalks. If you go, park at Ken Johnston Park or on the shoulder of the Ditto Landing entrance road.
7. Tennessee River Greenway
At the southern tip of Ditto Landing Park, this greenway runs along the bank of the Tennessee River and offers a great view of the wide waterway. If you’re visiting Ditto Landing, or if you just need a change of scenery, this can be a very quiet and peaceful place in the middle of the week, especially in winter or early spring. Of course, weekends draw many more visitors. Also, a series of walkways connect this greenway to the Aldridge Creek Greenway, which can serve as a launch point for a longer trek or ride. If you go, there’s a large Ditto Landing parking lot near the riverbank and greenway path.
8. Indian Creek Greenway
Located near the border of Huntsville and Madison, the Indian Creek Greenway is popular for a few reasons. First, it traverses an attractive landscape, with a lively creek, vast farm fields, and large tracts of woods. Plus, it links to surrounding neighborhoods and Cummings Research Park, so you can access it from several points or extend your route. If you go, there is a parking area on Old Madison Pike near the intersection with Slaughter Road, or you can access the greenway in the Creekwood subdivision near the intersection of Farrow Road and Slaughter Road.
9. Mill Creek Greenway
An ideal spot for an outdoor excursion with the whole family, the one-mile Mill Creek Greenway features kid-centric extras and allows to cover some distance without getting too worn out and cranky. Plus, little ones will enjoy walking along Mill Creek, which is relatively small and calm. Signs lining the path add to the fun, encouraging kids to play games with instructions like, "Jump like a frog" and “Hop, skip or jump while you count to 10.” Other signs inspire them to examine natural features, like tree trunks and leaves, and they can listen for birds and frogs. If you go, there is a parking lot on Mill Road, near Mill Creek Elementary School.
10. Bradford Creek Greenway
Madison greenways have the advantage of being surrounded by more farmland than many Huntsville paths. This is really evident when you’re traveling the Bradford Creek Greenway, which passes a rushing creek, spacious wetlands, and thick hardwoods forests. While the trail nears a few houses and neighborhoods, it feels much more remote and wild than most of the area’s urban recreation spots. The only drawback is that you will regularly hear air traffic from Huntsville International Airport. Even so this greenway provides surprisingly wild and tranquil respite from the city. If you go, there is a parking area on Palmer Road near the trailhead.
Originally written for BCBS of AL.