The Wolf River Greenway is a corridor of safe green space along the Wolf River, which includes a paved road for non-motorized transport. Designed in stages, this 10-foot and 12-foot wide path will eventually stretch a total of 36 miles to connect communities all the way from the north end of Mud Island, downtown Memphis, through the northern central neighborhoods of Memphis, to the Shelby Farms and then to the cities of Germantown and Collierville, Tennessee.
In line with other existing greenways around the country, the Wolf River Greenway will help link people and communities, increase property values, minimize crime, promote healthier lifestyles, and enhance the overall quality of life in neighboring neighborhoods. Along the banks of the Wolf River, this scenic greenway will be the centerpiece for the transformation of the Mid-South into a 21st-century city, enabling users to enjoy the natural beauty of the hardwoods and wetlands of the lowlands and to visit local shops and cafés along the way via numerous access points. The Wolf River Greenway will also intersect with other area trail networks, including the Shelby Farms Greenline, providing visitors with access to the largest urban park, Shelby Farms Park, in the United States.
The initial phase of the project, completed in 2010, stretches from Walnut Grove Road to Shady Grove Road along the south side of the Wolf River to the Germantown City Greenway system, a total of 2.6 miles. The Wolf River Conservancy is currently working with the City of Memphis to build another 23 miles of the Greenway from the north end of Mud Island, in downtown Memphis, to the completed parts of the Greenway at Walnut Grove Lane.
The open parts of the Wolf River Greenway are operated by the City of Memphis and the City of Germantown. The City of Memphis will control the 23-mile section of the Greenway within the City of Memphis. WRC is actively collaborating with the City to prepare a governance, operations and management plan for the Memphis section of the Greenway.
The Wolf River Greenway Arboretum follows a one-mile paved path that crosses the lowland hardwood habitats along the banks of the Wolf River between Walnut Grove Rd. and Shady Grove Rd. It can be easily reached from the Humphreys Blvd. This Level One arboretum shows 37 species of trees native to the Mid-South. As the Wolf River Greenway trail lengthens, there is a potential to become a Level 2 arboretum with at least 60 named species. Visiting the arboretum is a perfect way for families, teachers, and community members to learn about our native plants, the beauty and biodiversity of the Wolf River.
History of Wolf River Greenway
It was a member of the Wolf River Conservancy Board-Charles Askew-who persuaded the Memphis City Council and the City of Memphis Park Services to finance a $100,000 Master Plan (completed by ETI Corporation) for the 22-mile Wolf River Greenway across the City of Memphis along the Wolf River corridor. The proposal was completed in 2003, but no action was taken to actually build the Greenway. The City of Germantown, on the other hand, had already constructed a two-mile greenway along the Wolf River, which was extremely common.
Frustrated, Wolf River Conservancy called for advice and assistance from Memphis Tomorrow, a group of Memphis CEOs working to introduce crucial measures to create a safer, more desirable environment for Memphis businesses and residents. Memphis Tomorrow proposed connecting our vision for the Wolf River Greenway to Shelby Farms Park and the 13-mile abandoned rail corridor known as the “Greenline” (today called the Shelby Farms Greenline). The group imagined two long trails through the area, which intersected Shelby Farms Park, creating a giant “X” and linking diverse communities with the nation’s largest urban park. Memphis Tomorrow then proposed that, armed with this inspiring, transformative vision for the future, we should persuade Mayor W.W. Herenton to support the initiative.
In February 2007, the Wolf River Conservancy, in collaboration with Shelby Farms Park Conservancy and the Greater Memphis Greenline Community, held a “Greening Greater Memphis” meeting in the Memphis Botanic Garden. The Commercial Appeal supported the endorsement of their editorial department and a week’s worth of guest editorials, and WRC sent an urgent appeal to its members. The meeting was open to the public and was expected to take place on Wednesday evening. That night, more than 1,000 people crowded into the 500-seat Hardin Venue, lined the walls and doorways, and spilled into the hallways. Memphis Mayor Herenton, Shelby County Mayor Wharton, and Germantown Mayor Goldsworthy were all present, and Mayor Herenton eventually agreed to create the Wolf River Greenway. Representatives of the Hyde Family Foundations were also present at the meeting and, impressed by the overwhelming grassroots support for the initiative, they agreed to finance both the Wolf River Conservancy and the Memphis Park Services to expedite Greenway development. This led to a public-private agreement between the Wolf River Conservancy, the Hyde Family Foundations and the City of Memphis to establish the Greenway.
Seven parts of the Memphis Wolf River Greenway have been constructed since 2007. The first portion, from Walnut Grove Road to Shady Grove Road, was completed in 2010. This segment includes a pedestrian bridge over the Wolf River connecting the Shelby Farms Greenline to the Wolf River Greenway via Shelby Farms Park. The completed portion of the Wolf River Greenway runs from Shady Grove Road to the city limits of Germantown and was completed in August 2012. We plan to open another 2.4 miles in the summer of 2021, with a direct connection to the Greenline. The most recent opening in 2018 was the Epping Way portion of the Greenway in the north of Memphis. In addition, the City of Germantown has built a path that connects the Memphis segment of the Greenway to the current Germantown Greenway, making it possible for bikers, runners and walkers to ride 4 uninterrupted miles from Germantown Parkway to Walnut Grove Road on the Wolf River Greenway.
Beautiful Memphis, Tennessee, is jam-packed with some of the state’s best hiking trails. If you’re a resident or just a visitor, make sure to check these hikes with your friends and family:
- Nesbit Park – Stanky Creek Trails
- Wolf River Refuge Trailhead
- Big River Crossing
- The Hampline Agricenter Sunflower Trail
- Shelby Farms Park
- Tour de Wolf Trailhead
- V&E Greenline
- Chickasaw Trailhead
These amazing trails are located just down the street from our location at South Third Street across from The Southgate Shopping Center. Stop by for a visit anytime!