At our inception 20 years ago, we chose to be different. Unlike other news organizations, we made the decision to provide in-depth, regional reporting free to anyone who wanted access to it. We don’t plan to change that model. Support from our readers will help us maintain and strengthen the editorial independence that is crucial to our mission to help make Western North Carolina a better place to call home. If you are able, please support The Smoky Mountain News.

The Smoky Mountain News is a wholly private corporation. Reader contributions support the journalistic mission of SMN to remain independent. Your support of SMN does not constitute a charitable donation. If you have a question about contributing to SMN, please contact us.

Planning effort seeks to form regional multi-use trail network

A plan that would create a 150-mile-plus trail network through Buncombe, Haywood, Henderson, Madison and Transylvania counties is now out for public comment. 

The French Broad River Metropolitan Planning Organization has been working with local governments and community stakeholders over the last year to develop plans for the Hellbender Regional Trail, which knits together various bicycle, pedestrian and greenway plans in the region to illustrate existing and planned trails that may someday connect to form a regional bike and walking trail network.

The Hellbender Regional Trail Plan does not intend to usurp local brands or mandate designs, but rather to make the various sections of the planned and existing network greater than the sum of their parts through increased coordination and partnerships, focusing on regional connections for multi-use paths. It’s a long-range plan, with full buildout representing a nearly tenfold increase in the miles of multi-use trail miles currently in the region. 

The draft plan is available at www.frenchbroadrivermpo.org/multimodal, with comments accepted through Friday, Aug. 21, using the form on the website or by emailing This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. An online workshop is planned for Friday, July 24, with more details forthcoming later. 

Receive our FREE Friday Xtra newsletter

Go to top