By: Jeremy D. Wells
Carter County Times
If Olive Hill Trail Town has their way, the city could see a new 2.2 mile walking trail and mountain bike paths around the town lake, as well as opportunities for young people to learn to kayak and participate in horseback riding.
The project Duane Roberts envisions includes a swinging bridge across the spillway gap, handicap access, raised walkways, and a fishing pier with wheelchair access, among other improvements to the city owned property. Other planned amenities on the 350 acre property would include improvements to the existing boat ramps, picnic areas, and trails for hiking, biking, and horseback riding throughout the surrounding woodlands.
He paints a picture of coming through the woods onto one of the openings in the trees, planted with native wildflowers that attract butterflies, hummingbirds, and honeybees.
But first, he said, they need to make sure they have the resources. That includes not only gravel for the lots and lumber for the trails and piers, but also volunteers to help with the work and upkeep. He’s confident they can fundraise for the supplies they can’t get as donations from local businesses – Globe Farm Supply has already donated gates for the previously unsecured entrances to the property – but what they really need are volunteers.
If he can get enough people to help with the work, he’s confident they can turn the space into a showcase recreational area.
“This thing will be pretty neat. This will be the highlight of the trail,” he said, while describing the swinging bridge that would span the 220 foot gap across the spillway from the hillside to the top of the dam.
Though the work is all being done through Trail Town, including any future grant applications for improvements or upkeep, they couldn’t do it without the blessing of the city, who owns the property around the city’s reservoir.
“(Trail Town) are the ones trying to make this happen,” he explained. “But the mayor was kind enough to let us do what we want with this property. He’s given us his blessing. The city council has given us their blessing, to turn this into a recreational park for families.”
He said they hoped to provide kayaking and riding lessons to youth, to give them more opportunities to get outside.
“Because,” he continued, “there really isn’t anything in Olive Hill for teenagers. So, our plan is to offer free kayaking lessons, free fishing lessons, a mountain bike track, the horse-riding trails.”
Basically, he said, opportunities to stay active instead of vegging out on the couch or falling into drugs and alcohol.
It’s a concept that dove-tails nicely with the plans of other local groups, like the Galaxy Project and their Pathfinder Initiative to get kids involved in outdoor activities. Roberts said members of Trail Town are involved with that initiative already and they will be supporting one another.
But he doesn’t want anyone to think this is something that is just for the teenagers. The trails and fishing piers will be open to anyone. He envisions it as a place for families to picnic and enjoy the scenery and wildlife. He even has plans for leveling out areas and extending parking, and maybe even building a gazebo in a circular opening in a copse of trees near the trail head.
It could be a nice, inviting place, he said, if they can get the work done.
If you’re interested in helping, the next trail maintenance workday at the lake is September 24, followed by another on October 15. Those interested in volunteering should show up at the Ranch Road entrance to the park at 9 a.m. on those Saturday mornings with tools to help clear the overgrown trails.
For more information you can contact the group on Facebook by searching for Olive Hill Trail Town Inc. Or you can find them online at www.olivehilltrailtown.com.
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