Retire VA 2019 - 35

W

DAN SMITH

HEN SMARTADVISOR recently
ranked Roanoke 24th nationally
on its list of Best Cities for an
Active Retirement, most of us thought,
"Well, yeh." But when SmartAdvisor put
the Star City considerably down its rating
for "walkability" we heard a collective,
"Now, wait a minute!"
Roanoke's walkability rating of 41
compares to No. 1 New York City's 89. It is
one of the lowest on the list.
In recent years, Roanoke has worked
hard to become "walkable," a designation
that is cloaked in gold as far as economic
developers are concerned. That term
is not just attractive to 20-and-30somethings, but also to retirees and
those considering where best to live in
retirement.
Walking is the new gym for many and
Roanoke is blessed with an extensive (415
miles) greenway system and hiking trails
that are internationally recognized, all
within a short distance of the center of
town. In fact, you can see downtown from
some of the hiking trails, like the popular
McAfee Knob, Tinker Mountain, Read
Mountain and Mill Mountain trails.
If you did nothing but examine the
growing greenway system, which has
expanded from 62 miles in the 1995 plan,
you'd be firmly convinced that something
was, well, afoot. There are more than
35 specific, named trails in the Roanoke
Valley and plans for more, like the new
Henchee property trail planned at the
already honeycombed Carvins Cove, the
city's water supply where hikers, bikers
and paddlers congregate.

The newest greenway spur is a trail running
through the heart of Garden City. None of the
trails or waterways are age-specific, but the
percentage of people older than 55 taking
advantage of the opportunities seems to
grow annually.
Retiree Diana Christopulos or Roanoke, an
environmental activist, loves the hiking in the
Roanoke Valley, which she calls "fantastic for
every level. I see plenty of older hikers."
The difference?
"Easy, paved greenways," she says. "Here
in Salem, I see people in wheelchairs, with
walkers or canes and just ambling. Unpaved
greenways like Wolf Creek and Murray Run are
slightly harder.
"One of my favorites is Paw Paw Trail at
Green Hill Park, which can be combined with
other trails along the river and up hills for a
longer hike. There are a limitless number of
moderate to strenuous hikes within one hour."

Garden City
Greenway

RETIRE-VA 2020 / Retire-VA.com / 35



Retire VA 2019

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