At age 87, Lyndell Bryant still walks the length of the Wolf Creek Greenway nearly every day, undeterred by rain or foul weather.
“He knows everybody out on that greenway,” said Bud LaRoche, chair of the Roanoke Valley Greenway Commission. “He knows everybody’s name and every dog’s name.”
Bryant, who goes by Lynn, and his wife, Peggy, have been key caretakers of the Wolf Creek Greenway since its creation 20 years ago.
That 2-mile greenway was the first in Vinton and was once the longest stretch of trail in the nascent Roanoke Valley system. It runs from eastern Vinton to the Blue Ridge Parkway, following Wolf Creek just north of William Byrd High School.
On Wednesday, local leaders will celebrate its 20th anniversary with a ceremony that will include unveiling a new bench dedicated to the Bryants and their years of support for the community trail network. The ceremony will take place at a pedestrian bridge located near Lynn Haven Baptist Church at 1501 E. Washington Ave. in Vinton.
“I don’t know what we would do without volunteers like them,” said Janet Scheid, a Vinton Town Council member who serves on the regional greenway commission.
“It takes a special kind of person to do that work,” she said.
The Bryants, who live in Vinton, are longtime volunteer trailbuilders going back to the 1970s. They’ve put their shoulders to the wheel to help carve out and maintain paths across the region — from the Appalachian Trail to Carvins Cove to Mill Mountain.
The projects can be labor intensive. Peggy Bryant was known for her willingness to tackle one of the toughest jobs: digging up deeply rooted tree stumps to clear out trailbeds for hikers.
Lynn Bryant, who worked for General Electric in quality control, could be relied on to engineer ingenious ways of moving around the hefty rocks and other weighty materials that the crews dealt with.
“They have been really committed,” said Liz Belcher, longtime coordinator for the regional greenway commission.
Together, the Bryants were tireless advocates who never hesitated to step up when they saw a need, said Belcher and other greenway supporters.
The new bench that will be presented during Wednesday’s ceremony is replacing an older wooden bench that the Bryants made years ago and installed to make the greenway more comfortable for users.
“Trails are my passion,” said Lynn Bryant, adding that as a Vinton native the Wolf Creek Greenway has a special place in his heart.
Peggy Bryant, an avid runner for years, was the first of the two to start volunteering on the trails. Lynn Bryant followed shortly after.
In a proclamation issued by the Vinton Town Council, officials noted the couple has helped build some 50 to 75 trails over the years — including being part of the original crew that created Wolf Creek.
Lynn Bryant still keeps watch over Wolf Creek on his daily constitutionals. It’s not unusual to spot him on the greenway shoveling sediment out of the culvert or carting away an errant tree stump.
Peggy Bryant’s health now prevents her from joining him on his regular walks, he said. But both remain members of the Roanoke Appalachian Trail Club and continue to support the local greenways.
The benefits of the greenway network are clear, Lynn Bryant said. It’s been credited with boosting the region’s quality of life and tourism appeal as well as forging a closer connection between the community and its creeks and rivers.
“It’s like that old saying, if you build it, they will come,” Bryant said.