Life in the Slow Lane

Two bike rides perfect for the young or young-at-heart.

Since May is National Bike Month, it’s the perfect time to take the kids out for a spin. I love to bike because it makes me feel like a kid again — adventurous and  carefree. Try riding the Shelby Farms Greenline or exploring the Wolf River Greenway. The nature area, a two-mile linear park off Wolf River Boulevard, is a great fit for young children. The paved, largely shaded trail parallels the Wolf River and runs past several lakes and wetlands, giving kids several places to spy on the wildlife found here. Amenities include bathrooms and water fountains. (For a longer ride, continue east under Germantown Parkway to Neshoba Park, where you’ll find a fishable lake.)

The Greenway Nature Trail
I park behind the Holiday Inn Express Suites on Wolf River Boulevard and Germantown Parkway, where a path from the parking lot intersects the trail. The muddy Wolf River is visible from here, flowing at the bottom of a fairly steep embankment. I start pedaling westward, eventually coming to the first of several ponds where I stop to watch a blue heron fish. He stands stock still in the marshy waters, his tapered yellow bill poised, spear-like, above the glassy stillness of the pond. Nothing breaks his concentration, neither the trilling chorus of peeper frogs nor the clutch of mallards that bob nearby, for he knows lunch awaits.
    Continuing my ride, I eventually stop to read the interpretive signs that are sprinkled throughout the park. They describe the wetlands and wildlife here, as well as the efforts of the Wolf River Conservancy, a nonprofit land trust that works to conserve and protect the river corridor.  
    At Turtle Bayou, I meet “Grandy” Nancy who is biking with her 6-year-old grandson, Phillip. “We just saw the beaver wall,” she offers, “where the beavers build their dams.” That’s near the western terminus of the trail. She and Philip have stopped at Turtle Bayou to spy on the red-eared sliders and mud turtles that line up like dominos on several logs.
    Later, Charlene Thompson, who is sharing the park with her two school-aged grandchildren, arrive at the dock just in time to see one turtle submarine past, his snout poking skyward like a periscope. “They’ll eventually hook this trail up with the Greenline,” she notes, and we talk for a moment about the network of bike trails that will soon crisscross the county. In fact, from here, you’re just five minutes away from the Greenline, which runs from Shelby Farms to Midtown.

Life on the Greenline
If you haven’t yet ridden the Shelby Farms Greenline, you’re missing a popular addition to Memphis. This 6.7 mile rail-to-trail extends from Tillman Road (two blocks west and north of the library on Poplar) to Shelby Farms and is a whirl of activity on the weekends. The paved trail is shady in spots and wide enough to accommodate two lanes of bikers.
    Parking is most plentiful on Mullins Station Road, where a large lot is located opposite the county jail. Other options include parking at the park or on adjacent side streets. There are nine access points: Tillman Street, Highland, High Point Terrace, Graham, Waring, Podesta, Sycamore View, Mullins Station, and Farm Road inside Shelby Farms Park. There are no amenities on the trail, so be sure to bring water and snacks. It is worth noting that refreshments can be purchased at the High Point Terrace Shopping Center, just two block north on High Point Terrace, where you’ll find a neighborhood grocery and pub.     
    I ride the Greenline one Sunday afternoon (sans kids) and complete the 13-mile round-trip in about 90 minutes. While it is busy in spots (be sure to stay in your lane when traffic gets thick to avoid collisions), the congestion is heaviest near Shelby Farms. Otherwise, it’s a great way to enjoy the spring weather.          

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