Hendersonville Lightning: Ecusta Trail ride reveals entrepreneurs ready to cash in

From the Lightning: “. . . Unauthorized “recreational use” of this 8.4-mile section is undermining efforts to extend the trail, Conserving Carolina wrote in a sternly worded press release earlier this month. The organization, which acquired the 19.4-mile trail corridor last year, informed residents that walking or riding on our county’s section is “prohibited at this time.”

But the Henderson portion is open, the announcement also stated.

So I can actually, ride it? I asked Chris Burns, a founding board member of Friends of the Ecusta Trail. No problem, he said. I’d need to avoid the many still-closed railroad bridges, but the “packed ballast” surface was easily passable.

That description turned out to be overly generous, and the bone-jarring gravel and constant detours around bridges turned what I’d planned as an easy 22-mile out-and-back ride into a four-hour chore. Knowing of similar conditions in Transylvania, I can tell you that not only is riding the trail in Brevard illegal, it would be absolutely no fun.

But the point of this ride wasn’t about what the trail is now but about what it could be, what it probably will be — in Henderson and, by extension, Transylvania, all the way to its planned endpoint in Brevard. So if I didn’t experience a flat, pleasant ride through the French Broad River valley, I could see that in the future, when the surface is smooth and paved. I talked to people who were excited about the prospect of such excursions, excited about seeing neighbors along the way, and — speaking to investors who envision not just riders on the trail, but customers — excited about cashing in. . .”

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