This is the second of our series of video tours of bike rides, with a special focus on Mecklenburg County Greenways. Keep reading to see a video, as well as more information and pictures.
The Mecklenburg County greenway system is a set of linear parks, generally alongside creeks, that connect neighborhoods, shopping areas and other destinations. Many of the greenways connect to each other.
There are currently 49 miles of developed greenway trails in Mecklenburg County, with more being built.
The greenways are suitable for walking, jogging, biking, or riding non-motorized scooters. They are great for pushing strollers.
Besides enhancing our quality of life by providing a place to exercise and much-needed shade, the greenways also help to promote water quality, reduce flooding damage, and preserve wildlife habitats.
The first greenway we spotlighted was Mallard Creek Greenway. The greenway we’re highlighting today, The Ruth G. Shaw Trail on Toby Creek (more commonly known as Toby Creek Greenway), starts right at Mallard Creek Greenway, near Kirk Farm Fields. If you go to our feature on Mallard Creek Greenway, you’ll see where that turnoff is for Toby Creek Greenway.
Toby Creek Greenway Basics
Overview of Toby Creek Greenway
Toby Creek Greenway starts at Mallard Creek Greenway, goes through UNC Charlotte, crosses University City Boulevard, and then veers away from University City Boulevard, ending at the Autumnwood neighborhood, off of Rocky River Road.
Toby Creek Greenway is 2.64 miles long, all paved. It crosses several streets, with the largest, by far, being University City Boulevard, where there is a crosswalk and a light.
Here’s a map of Toby Creek Greenway, but it’s not complete. It doesn’t reflect the newest part of the greenway, which goes from University City Boulevard to Rocky River Road. Only 1.6 miles of Toby Creek Greenway are on this map.
Toby Creek Greenway Connections
Toby Creek Greenway connects with Mallard Creek Greenway, which, along with Clarks Creek Greenway, is 7.4 miles long, the longest greenway in Mecklenburg County.
Toby Creek Greenway is one of the most connected of all the greenways in Mecklenburg County. It access UNC Charlotte, with all it has to offer, including the UNC Charlotte Botanical Gardens. You can also get to the UNC Charlotte light rail station, and to Shoppes at University Place. In addition, it takes you directly to Town Center Plaza, with a number of stores and restaurants.
Besides the main Toby Creek Greenway GoPro video, which we’ll get to soon, we will share pictures and directions along the Greenway. In addition, we’ll show you how to get to the UNC Charlotte Botanical Gardens, Shoppes at University Place, and the UNC Charlotte light rail station.
Where to Park for Toby Creek Greenway
On the east end of Mallard Creek Greenway you can park at Kirk Farm Fields, 210 E Mallard Creek Church Road. Kirk Farm Fields is a 36-acre park with five soccer fields. This is very close to the entrance of Toby Creek Greenway.
You can also park in the parking lot of Town Center Plaza. Many bike riders do that.
Lastly, UNC Charlotte might be an option for you for parking, although you need a parking permit for most spaces. There are some visitor lots and decks. Here is UNC Charlotte’s parking page. This is a more comprehensive document on parking at UNC Charlotte. In this document, it says that “Permits are required at all times, but they are currently not enforced on weekends after 10 p.m. Friday until 5 a.m. Monday unless it’s a Football home-game weekend when all vehicles must have a valid UNC Charlotte permit or display a valid Game Day event permit.” We are not responsible if you park at UNC Charlotte and get a citation.
Greenway Etiquette and Safety
- Pedestrians have the right of way.
- Keep to the right except when passing.
- Pass on the left.
- Give an audible warning to others when passing. (Using a bell or calling out “on your left!”)
- Be aware of your surroundings and keep volume down on audio devices so that you’ll hear approaching traffic.
- Walk with others.
- Avoid walking more than two abreast.
- Cyclists should always ride single file and at a safe speed.
- Use bicycle lights, reflectors and reflective clothing if it’s getting dark (or if you’re going through a tunnel)
- If you’re walking a dog, keep them on a 6-foot or shorter leash, and stay on the right edge of the trail. Clean up after your dog.
- Avoid standing still on the trail.
- Cross carefully.
- Teach your children trail etiquette too.
Toby Creek Greenway Tour
Our tour takes you along the complete length of Toby Creek Greenway, starting at Mallard Creek Greenway and ending at Autumnwood, near Rocky River Road.
Enjoy this video of the bike ride, below,, and then scroll down for more pictures and information. The music in this video is by Time Sawyer, a Charlotte-based band with two members who are UNC Charlotte grads. The music is with permission. The GoPro footage is provided by Stan Mace, who is also a UNC Charlotte grad.
If you start on Mallard Creek Greenway, you’ll see this sign, leading you onto Toby Creek Greenway.
All of the trail is paved, and much is wooded, like this.
You’ll ride under the Light Rail line.
You’ll get to a fitness station. You can go straight and stay on Toby Creek Greenway, but if you want to get to the Light Rail station, turn left on the path immediately past the fitness station.
Side trip to Light Rail Station
We’re going to turn left on the path directly after the fitness station, and show you the ride to the UNC Charlotte Light Rail station.
Then, turn left onto Cameron Boulevard, and it’ll take you right to the station. There’s a bike lane the whole time. There’s a bit of a hill though!
The Light Rail station will be on your left. You can bring your bike onto the train, and there’s also a bike rack at the station.
Back on Toby Creek Greenway
Now we pick up from where we were before we turned left to get to the Light Rail station. There’s a fitness station on your left, but this time you’ll just go straight. You’ll pass tennis courts, and then there will be another intersection that can take you to some interesting places. If you turn right on Championship Lane, you can get to Shoppes at University Place or the UNC Charlotte Botanical Gardens.
Again, we’re going to show you those side trips.
Side trip to Shoppes at University Place
As you pass the tennis courts, you’ll come up on Championship Lane. Cross it, and turn right onto the path that runs alongside Championship Lane. It will become a brick path.
Championship Lane ends at Phillips Road and you’ll turn to the left. You’ll be passing some of the athletic facilities. You’ll see this softball statue on your left. Cross Wells Fargo Lane and continue on the brick path. (Note: there’s also a bike lane you could use.)
You’ll pass a gravel fitness trail on your left, which you will not take. Keep going just a bit and you’ll see a sign on your left for the “UNC Charlotte Fitness Trail and N. Tryon Street Connector.” Turn left there.
This wooded trail will take you all the way to North Tryon Street (U.S. Highway 29.) On the way you’ll pass a small pond with some picnic table, and then you’ll climb a pretty steep hill before you reach N. Tryon Street.
When you get to the road you’ll need to carry your bike up about 12 steps. Once you go up the steps there’s a wide sidewalk or a bike lane. Turn right on the bike lane, and then at the first intersection, turn left to cross North Tryon Street. There’s a crosswalk, but it’s a major road and a busy intersection, so be careful.
At this point, Shoppes at University Place is ahead of you and to the left. There are a lot of ways to get in.
Shoppes at University Place features a number of restaurants and shops, including Boardwalk Billy’s Raw Bar, Ninety’s Ice Cream, Crafty Crab, Famous Toastery, FruitiCup Yogurt, Cava Grill, Blaze Fast Fire’d Pizza, Five Guys,m City Barbeque, Wine Vault and more, so you’ll have no problem finding a place to treat yourself after your bike ride.
Shoppes at University Place has more to offer than just food and drink, though. You can go for a paddleboat ride.
Enjoy the boardwalk around the lake and the bridges across it.
If you do ride your bike around the lake, please be courteous and cautious, because the path on the other side of the lake is narrow and is popular with families. We advise you to walk the path instead. It’s really not well suited for bike riders and pedestrians to share.
Side trip to UNC Botanical Gardens
Next side trip! Warning: this one includes a very challenging hill. For this side trip you’ll start exactly where you started for the Shoppes at University Place side trip, turning right on Championship Lane from Toby Creek Greenway. But this time you’ll turn right onto Phillips Road.
Phillips Road will turn into Craver Road, which will take you right through the middle of campus.
Keep going on Craver Road–the hill is long and steep–and you’ll end up right at the UNC Charlotte Botanical Gardens. The Botanical Gardens are truly a hidden treasure and you will not leave disappointed if you explore them.
The Gardens feature a pagoda, bridges, waterfalls, a pond, an Asian garden, wildflowers, creeks, a butterfly garden and so much more.
You can see a video, detailed information, and many pictures in our feature on the UNC Charlotte Botanical Gardens.
Back on Toby Creek Greenway Again
We’re picking up again, from before we turned right on Championship Lane (for the UNC Charlotte Botanical Gardens and Shoppes at University Place) and we are back on Toby Creek Greenway. We won’t take any more side trips.
When you get to Johnson Alumni Way, on the south side of campus, you’ll have the choice of taking a tunnel under the road, or crossing at a crosswalk. We strongly advise that you take the crosswalk, because the tunnel floods very easily and limbs often end up in it, and you might not see them until it’s too late.
Emerging from UNC Charlotte
You’ve emerged from the main part of campus, but you’re still on the campus, and it’s a wooded, more secluded area.
You will end your trek through UNC Charlotte when you arrive at University City Boulevard (Highway 49.) This is a major road, but there’s a crosswalk and a traffic light.
As you cross University City Boulevard, right in front of you is Town Center Plaza, a large shopping center that contains a number of stores and restaurants, including Harris Teeter, Amalfi’s Pizza ‘n’ Pasta, Giant University City (formerly Bike Line), Subway, Dunkin’, and many more.
Right after you cross the road, you’ll take a sharp right to stay on Toby Creek Greenway, which will go alongside University City Boulevard for a short time. You’ll go under W.T. Harris Boulevard.
After you go under Harris Boulevard, you’ll veer to the left, away from University City Boulevard, and enter one of the prettiest parts of Toby Creek Greenway.
This part of Toby Creek Greenway takes you on elevated paths and bridges over a marshy area.
You’ll reach a neighborhood, and Rocky River Road will be in front of you, to the left. If you turn left you’ll cross Rocky River Road and travel the last part of Toby Creek Greenway.
If you appreciate a climb, you’ll love this next part, which takes you through the trees.
Finally, you’ll reach the end of Toby Creek Greenway. For now.