For my first official review for places in the Knoxville area I choose a greenway in Oak Ridge: The Melton Lake Greenway.
Driving from the Knoxville area the first greenway I have tried starts at Solway Park off Edgemoor Road where there is parking for 20 or 30 vehicles. The greenway itself is paved and exits the parking area to the East through woods with a fairly steady climb into Haw Ridge Park. In this park there is another small parking area about 0.6 miles in. There are also several dirt paths that branch off and are good for trail running, mountain biking or hiking. The side trails are mainly single track and twist and climb for several miles.
At the far side of the park the main greenway finds the lake as it turns Northward and follows the shore line. The straight, fairly flat stretch between mile 1.5 and 2 is a welcome change from the climbs through the park and a chance to catch your breath. Just past the two mile mark is another small parking area that marks the start of small, rolling hills. On a good day you may even be treated to rowing on the lake as the greenway passes the Oak Ridge Rowing Association just north of Emory Valley Road where it intersects with the Emory Valley Greenway. The main path continues to follow the lake shore until you reach Oak Ridge Turnpike for a total one way length of just over 5 miles. If you add the 2 miles one way length of Emory Valley the total paved round trip can be up to 14 miles.
Overall, despite being a reasonably short drive from Knoxville, The Melton Lake Greenway offers a sometimes shaded escape that has a very country feel to it. It has a smooth, paved surface and alternates between hills and shoreline. Throughout the length you can expect to see several walkers, runners and bikers on a pretty day making it a fairly safe place to go and it is long enough to train distances up to a half marathon. There are also several more challenging side trails in Haw Ridge Park just waiting to be explored. I do wonder how much cover there will be during mid summer runs but maybe the proximity of the lake will offer some relief.
As a side note I found the staff at the Oak Ridge Visitor’s Center very helpful in providing information about their greenways. They are very proud of the system and even gave me a map of the more central ones. This was the first trail in Oak Ridge and I have since been back to it and tried another one that I will review soon. Based on these two I see myself making the trek on a regular basis as training for the next half marathon intensifies.