Flashback: The Big Creek Greenway opened 20 years ago

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For this month’s flashback we’re going back 20 years to the year 2002, when the City of Alpharetta opened what has become one of its biggest attractions among both visitors and residents, the Big Creek Greenway.

Before we dig in to the story of the greenway, let’s go back in time to 2002.

The Time: In 2002, George W. Bush was president of the United States and Roy Barnes was the governor of Georgia. Justin Timberlake and Britney Spears ended their relationship, Michael Jackson landed in hot water for dangling one of his kids from the balcony of a Berlin hotel room, and U2 performed at the halftime of the Super Bowl.

The country was still reeling from 9/11 and American Flags could be seen everywhere. The threat of terrorism was a real part of every day life and the era was marked by a general somber feeling.

The Greenway: If you’re not familiar with Big Creek Greenway, it is a 12-foot-wide trail system that now runs from Roswell, through Alpharetta and Forsyth County following Big Creek. The trails are recreational and are most commonly used for walking, running, cycling and dog-walking. Walking the trail will take you peacefully underneath some of the areas busiest roads and reveal serene scenery that you may not realize exists in metro Atlanta.

The massive trail all started in Alpharetta and it was the brainchild of a man named Rob Warrilow. While on vacation in Boulder, Colorado, Warrilow — who was a retired Greenway administrator by trade — encountered the Boulder Creek Pathway.

He returned to Alpharetta, videos of the pathway in hand and shared his vision of a similar trail along Big Creek with Alpharetta officials.

Warrilow was once quoted as saying, “If Boulder can have a pathway along Boulder Creek, why can’t Alpharetta have a greenway along Big Creek?”

In 1993, an advisory committee was formed to plan the new greenway and in 1994, construction was approved and the trail system was off to the races. It took about nine years of planning, but on Jan. 30, 2002, the Big Creek Greenway was functional and ready for visitors.

Despite its now 20 year history, the trail isn’t complete. As it stands right now, the trail runs from Roswell through Alpharetta, stopping at Marconi Drive. It picks up again in Forsyth County. The long-term plans for the trail would connect Marconi Drive to the Forsyth County portion, creating a trail that runs from the City of Roswell to the City of Cumming.

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