As Memphians, we are lucky to have a beautiful 4,500 acres that allow us to escape the bustling city and enjoy an afternoon of quiet. Located in the heart of Shelby County, Shelby Farms Park can be found just off Walnut Grove Road; however, Walnut Grove is not the only route that leads to Memphis’s most treasured green space. The Greenway and the Greenline are both paths that take pedestrians and bikers to the largest urban park in the state. Often confused, these two routes are actually very different. From size to amenities, there are many factors that set these two paths apart and we are here to demystify all confusion!
First, some history.
The plan for a greenway was first proposed in 2003 by Charles Askew, a board member of the Wolf River Conservancy, the non-profit organization whose mission it is to protect and enhance the Wolf River watershed as a natural resource. Plans for the 22-mile pathway along the Wolf River were made but no action was taken. In response to the stalemate, the Wolf River Conservancy asked Memphis Tomorrow, an association of CEOs of Memphis’s largest businesses, for an assist. Memphis Tomorrow suggested the idea of two paths: the Wolf River Greenway and the Shelby Farms Greenline, intersecting at Shelby Farms Park, creating a large “X” that would connect diverse neighborhoods with the largest urban park in the state.
“The Greenway” is how Memphians refer to what is formally named The Wolf River Greenway and it’s accurate to say that the Greenway is a work in progress. With plans to encompass 36 miles of paved pathway, the Greenway currently extends 2.6 miles from Walnut Grove Road to Shady Grove Road. Eventually, this path will connect the north end of Mud Island to Germantown and Collierville, passing through the neighborhoods of north-central Memphis and Shelby Farms along the way. The Wolf River Conservancy plans to use the Greenway to connect people from various neighborhoods, all while promoting fitness and reducing fossil fuel use. (Read more about the progression and growth of the Greenway at wolfriver.org.)
The Greenway can be accessed from several points at the Memphis or Germantown end. Jump on the Memphis end at Walnut Grove and Humphreys Boulevard, or at Shady Grove Road and Humphreys Boulevard from Shelby Farms Park via the pedestrian bridge over the Wolf River. The Germantown section of the Wolf River Greenway is easily accessed at Wolf River Boulevard east of Kirby, Wolf River Boulevard east of Riverdale Road, or from the Chick-fil-A parking lot on Germantown Parkway. You can reach the Greenline from the Greenway via the Wolf River Bridge.
For now, the 2.6-mile pathway along Humphreys Boulevard is yours to enjoy from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. Bikers, pedestrians and properly leashed dogs alike are welcome to take advantage of the scenic, paved path along the Wolf River.
At 6.7 miles, the Shelby Farms Greenline runs from Tillman Street in Binghampton to Farm Road in Shelby Farms, with a recent addition (not shown on the map) that leads to Cordova. The paved path is open to bikers, pedestrians, rollerbladers and yes, even our furry friends, from sunrise to sunset.
The Greenline is “line”ed (get it?!) with amenities available to all of its users: If you run into some technical difficulties along the way, take your bike to one of the free bike repair stations on the Greenline and in the park. Or if you just need to take a breather from your hard workout, the Greenline has several water stations and benches along the way to help you stay well-hydrated and well-rested.
Not only does the Greenline contain features that appeal to your health and safety but also to your vision! The nearly 7-mile path contains one of many murals that make up the 1/4-mile-long art gallery located in various spots throughout Memphis.
We can hop on the Greenline at any of the many crossroads, including Highland Street, Highpoint Terrace, Graham Street and Waring Road. In addition to parking space, these cross sections are also home to delicious restaurants and interesting shops, such as Cheffie’s Café and High Point Pizza,which can be found down the road from the Greenline at the intersection on High Point Terrace.
With different engineers and sponsors, the Greenway and Greenline each have assumed personalities of their own but they share the common goal of connecting Memphians to the beautiful Shelby Farms Park — and beyond. Another trail, the Greater Memphis Greenline, hopes to connect these two trails with even more trails across the city, the ultimate goal being to eventually link the Greenway and Greenline to Midtown, Uptown and the Mississippi River Trail, as well as provide trail access to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and Rhodes College. We are excited to see the progress!