Transforming Greensboro’s Trails: A Partnership with VF Corporation and The VF Foundation Brings Renovations to Palmetto and North Buffalo Creek Trails

January 19, 2024

In a bid to enhance our City’s recreational spaces, Greensboro Parks Foundation and Greensboro Parks and Recreation have embarked on an exciting journey to revitalize and expand our trail system. Thanks to generous support from The VF Foundation, we have completed a critical connection along the North Buffalo Creek Greenway and made significant improvements along our watershed trail system, improving access to the outdoors for enthusiasts across the City. In this newsletter, we’ll delve into the enhancements made possible by the collaboration between Greensboro Parks Foundation, Greensboro Parks and Recreation, and VF.

The Partnership with VF:

VF Corporation, a global apparel and footwear company with a strong commitment to environmental sustainability, and their philanthropic arm, The VF Foundation, have joined hands with Greensboro Parks and Recreation and Greensboro Parks Foundation to invest in the local community. Their generous funding has allowed for significant upgrades to the Palmetto Trail, a popular hiking trail along Lake Brandt and the completion of a critical greenway connection in east Greensboro, contributing to the City’s reputation as a haven for outdoor activities.

Palmetto Trail Improvements:

The Palmetto Trail, renowned for its picturesque landscapes and diverse ecosystems, was in critical need of a 300 foot boardwalk replacement to continue providing access between Old Battleground Road and the Atlantic & Yadkin Greenway. Funding provided by VF Corporation allowed trail maintenance staff to purchase material needed to reconstruct the boardwalk in its entirety and ensure access for future generations of hikers.  

Palmetto Trail boardwalk before improvements
Palmetto Trail boardwalk before improvements
Palmetto Trail boardwalk after being rebuilt
Palmetto after being rebuilt

Trail Maintenance and Sustainability:

While our community is fortunate to have over 100 miles of trail and greenway, large scale maintenance projects such as the Palmetto Trail boardwalk can be challenging to fund. Downed trees and increased flooding along our trails have reduced the lifespan of many of our bridges and boardwalks, increasing the need for sustainable infrastructure along our trails. Located in the forested buffers protecting our drinking water reservoirs, well maintained trail systems not only ensure a high quality user experience, but protect our water quality. Partnering with VF has been critical to ensuring that our trails are maintained in a safe and sustainable manner.

Enhanced Recreational Facilities:

Trails provide more than recreation. The pandemic exposed more people than ever before to our system, and we continue to see higher user numbers along our more popular trails. While frequented primarily by hikers and runners, the proximity of Palmetto Trail to Lake Brandt makes it a nature lover’s delight. Every season offers something new and exciting, from turtles and great blue herons along the shoreline to deer, fox, and other wildlife that depend on the wildlife corridor for survival.

North Buffalo Creek Greenway
North Buffalo Creek Greenway

North Buffalo Creek Trail Expansion:

Thanks to the support of The VF Foundation, the North Buffalo Creek Greenway was recently expanded, connecting Revolution Mill and North Church Street. This project addressed an immediate need to provide safe access under the railroad tracks, and long-term improvements as a key part of an east/west connector between Keeley Park and Downtown Greensboro. This project also addresses the City’s Vision Zero Greensboro Action Plan, which provides a framework for eliminating traffic fatalities and serious injuries by providing a protected passageway underneath the railroad. This project meets multiple objectives in the City’s GSO2040 Comprehensive Plan, driving the City towards its vision of being the best mid-size city in America.

The crown jewel of this section, an elevated boardwalk crossing under a railroad trestle bridge, has been praised as one of the highest quality sections of greenway in the City. The infusion of funds from The VF Foundation, along with a partnership with Self Help Credit Union and Revolution Mill, has enabled Greensboro Parks and Recreation to expand the greenway and open up recreation and transportation access for several communities in East Greensboro.

The greenway follows North Buffalo Creek and serves as an important wildlife corridor in a highly urbanized area. The project complemented an adjacent stream restoration project which includes storm water management, greenway access, and interpretative signage.

Multi-Use Pathways and Connectivity:

Recognizing the diverse needs of the community, the revitalization project incorporated a paved, multi-use pathway to accommodate walkers, hikers, and cyclists. The North Buffalo Creek greenway will connect residents of Revolution Mill and surrounding neighborhoods to the Latham, Lake Daniel, Downtown, and future Atlantic & Yadkin greenways, allowing east Greensboro residents access to safe, pleasant recreation and transportation opportunities. While it will take many years to fully realize the vision of connecting downtown to the eastern edge of the City, this project will improve access for East Greensboro residents in an area historically lacking in greenway connectivity.

Community Engagement and Future Plans:

Greensboro Parks Foundation and Greensboro Parks and Recreation, in collaboration with VF Corporation and The VF Foundation, are committed to ongoing community engagement to ensure the trails meet the evolving needs and preferences of the local residents. Community events, guided hikes, and volunteer opportunities are ongoing to encourage active participation and a sense of ownership among the community.

Looking ahead, the partnership envisions further collaborations with local schools, environmental organizations, and businesses to continue improving and expanding Greensboro’s trail system. The successful Palmetto Trail and North Buffalo Creek Trail projects serve as a model for future initiatives aimed at enhancing the city’s green spaces, promoting outdoor recreation, and fostering a strong sense of community.

The transformative improvements made to the Palmetto Trail and North Buffalo Creek Trail are a testament to the power of collaboration between local government, businesses, and the community. Through the generosity of VF Corporation and its foundation these trails now stand as shining examples of how thoughtful improvements can create lasting benefits for both nature enthusiasts and the broader community. Get ready to lace up your hiking boots, grab your bike, or simply take a leisurely stroll – our trails await your exploration!

By Paula Barger, Executive, Greensboro Parks and Recreation, Elizabeth Jernigan, Greensboro Parks and Recreation Senior Planner, & Shawna Tillery, Greensboro Parks and Recreation Planning and Development Division Manager