Easy Peasy Hikes: Aldridge Creek Greenway

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again – even a short walk is better than no walk at all. We’d had another very busy couple of weeks with two out of town trips requiring long hours driving in a car. If there’s ever a time when you need to stretch your legs, it’s after weeks like that! Time, however, wasn’t on our side. The weekend had flown by,  taken up with a drive to and from Florida for a family commitment and then a wedding shower for a close family friend. The best I was going to be able to do was to squeeze in a short walk some place close by. It occurred to me that another Easy Peasy hike would be perfect and that we’d not yet taken a walk on the grand old lady of Huntsville greenways, the Aldridge Creek Greenway. The stars aligned, we made our plans to walk a short stretch after work on Monday.

The first Huntsville greenway, Aldridge Creek Greenway runs along Aldridge Creek from Ditto Landing in the south, past McGucken Park and Ken Johnston Park and all the way up until it intersects with Bailey Cove Road near Willow Park. That’s 5 miles of paved and maintained walking, hiking and biking surface easily accessible from several points in south Huntsville. Parking is available at Ken Johnston Park and at Ditto Landing as well as at McGucken Park and behind Challenger School on Chaney Thompson Road. We opted to start at Ken Johnston Park and walk south as far as McGucken Park. It looked to be about a mile one way and easily doable before the sun set.

 

Chet and I met at Ken Johnston Park, which I don’t believe I’ve ever noticed before. Parking is plentiful, and there are restrooms, play equipment, and a big open field that looked like it might sometimes be used for soccer practices. From the parking lot, we walked a short way west down Mountain Gap Road and over the bridge that carries traffic over Aldridge Creek. There we headed down the ramp to the south to get on the greenway itself. We saw several runners and a couple of bikers but not many other walkers initially.  It was a bit hot out, but there were plenty of trees shading the pavement and even a bit of a breeze so though I sort of wished I’d changed into shorts I was pretty comfortable.

The stretch of greenway we chose to walk doesn’t have a lot of points of interest along it, honestly. The creek is not the most scenic one I’ve walked along – Indian Creek, Mill Creek, and Bradford Creek in Madison are certainly prettier – and there were houses, schools, and power line cuts everywhere. There was rarely a time where you were  out of sight of civilization and could just soak in the sights and sounds of nature. Still, it was a pleasant walk and we did pass a lovely outdoor classroom setup tucked off to the side among the trees.

Sooner than I expected, we crossed under Hobbs Road and could see a pedestrian bridge crossing over the creek ahead of us. It was the bridge over to McGucken Park. We decided to cross over and check out the park since it had been years since we’d been there. One of our children – I’m not sure which one but I think it was our oldest – played soccer for one season in a rec plus league of some sort in McGucken Park 20 years ago or so. It’s a nice park – there are baseball and  softball fields, tennis courts, a playground, restrooms, concessions,  and a pavilion. It occurred to me that if we had timed this right, we might have been able to pick up dinner at the concession stand and I could have gotten out of cooking! That might be something they do just on the weekends or something though.

After checking out the park, we just retraced our steps back up to Ken Johnston Park and the cars. We did notice many more folks out walking, running, and biking on the trip back. I guess more people had had time to get home from work and hit the trail. It does seem to be a very popular and well used greenway, which I always like to see. We also spotted a “Nature Stop” sign on the way back. This particular one had a drawing of Red Bud leaves and listed the scientific name for the species. It also had what looked to be a Boy Scout symbol plus GPS coordinates. I can only assume that there may be a series of these along the greeway, but this is the only one we saw. Seeing signs describing trees and that sort of thing isn’t unusual, but I’m weirdly hung up on the GPS coordinates. Why would they be on the sign? You’re standing there looking at the tree – why do you need coordinates? I don’t know about you, but I can’t look at GPS coordinates printed out and know where that location is. Unless I can plug them into our Garmin, GPS coordinates are not that useful to me. Is there some sort of GPS-related Boy Scout nature hunt?

I’ll be honest, this isn’t a stretch of the greenway I’m going to drive out of my way to walk on again, but if I lived in the area I can certainly see the appeal.  It has convenient parking, lots of access points, a shady footpath, and is well maintained.  The bit we walked on turned out to be 2.7 miles round trip and was mostly level, with only a couple of small inclines to go up. All in all, it was a pleasant evening walk.

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