|From Ivy Creek Greenway|
I went to the Gwinnett Environmental & Heritage Center (GEHC) a short while ago, and thought after walking about four miles in the area that I ought to check more of this place out by bicycle. I went back about a month later, this time with friends and bikes. Little did I know that I was supposed to cut through the back end of an apartment complex, but in doing so this time, I discovered the beauty, history, and fun that is the Ivy Creek Greenway .
Starting as before at the GEHC, We cycled down to where the Greenway begins. Now you could hike this route, and with the current 5.4 round trip it would not be a bad hike (out and back). But I agree with my second most common travelling companion who thinks that bikes can make an average outdoor excursion great. The first 1.4 miles are paved, reasonably flat (the worst climb is actually out of the greenway up to the GEHC parking lot). And it takes you along the homestead trail and across a bridge into the AMLI at Mill Creek Apartments. Just behind the apartments there are some nice water cascades and the ruins of the Woodward Mill, including an old rusted water mill (of course, we had to dismount to see properly). There seems to be closer access to these ruins either by parking at the Courtyard By Marriot or just off the I-85 southbound 20 exit headed East toward Lawrenceville. I like ruins and these are pretty nice.
The path then follows under some major roads like the I-85 exit ramps and SR 20. The drawback is obviously the traffic noise constantly in the background. On the plus side, there are no active roads to cross, and those overpasses can provide some much needed shade if you want to take a break. Just as you approach the Mall of Georgia and the Georgia Wildlife Federation Land, the trail turns to gravel, so if you are walking or have the right type of bike you can continue (we watched a roller skater turn around here in sadness). There does seem to be a new paved access point here allowing the possibility of parking at the Mall of Georgia.
As you continue, a short ways up on the right hand side, there is a couple of entryways into the Mill Creek Nature Center. It is either incomplete (as the idea for the center came about in 2003, or damaged in the floods—as it was taped off on the day we went—there are still places you can sneak in, but we didn’t). You then cross under a couple of more roads, the final one being Gravel Springs Road, where the path currently, very abruptly ends at the other side of the tunnel. We spent some time there picking wild blackberries which my friend cooked into a tart the following weekend. We then headed back the way we came.
It seems like there are plans on the board to connect this greenway to Bogan Park and George Pierce Park, the latter will actually connect it to the Suwanee Creek Greenway making this the premiere paved road biking attraction in Gwinnett County. But until that happens, it is still one of the best flat surface trail rides or walks in the area, complete with a few very nice diversions.
Trail Surface: ½ paved, ½ Gravel
Features: Heritage Center, Mill Ruins, Riverside Views, Bridges, Wetlands
Overall Rating: B
Scenic Quality: B
Athleticism: C (almost flat)
Hours of Operation: Daylight hours for GEHC parking
Facilities: At GEHC, if open
Maps: here, not really necessary