Partners help improve trail opportunities on the Nantahala National Forest in Graham County
Thanks to support from many partners, Nantahala National Forest trail users of all ages in Graham County now have additional opportunities for hiking, biking, horseback riding and more.
The Santeetlah Lake Trail has been enhanced to offer access for mountain biking and horseback riding through a partnership with Graham County Travel and Tourism, providing a new recreation experience along the 8.5-mile former Forest Service road.
Daniel Allison of Graham County Travel and Tourism Authority said, “This project brings lots of the folks that live here together and provides something that I think is going to be a real asset to this community,” at the recent trail dedication celebration.
With support from the Graham Revitalization Economic Action Team (G.R.E.A.T) and the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation, two new Kids in Parks TRACK Trails have also been installed.
The Massey Branch Fitness Trail previews a short uphill warm-up through rhododendron thickets where you can sample various fitness stations focusing on different muscle groups. At 0.7 miles it’s a workout within the Forest, allowing you to put your athletic skills to the test surrounded by nature.
At 0.25-miles out-and-back, the CCC Camp Trail honors the Civilian Conservation Corps which employed young men during the Great Depression. Walk to an observation deck overlooking their historic camp reading interpretive signs along the way.
To fund these two TRACK trail projects, G.R.E.A.T was awarded a grant from Duke Energy with additional support from Graham County Travel and Tourism and Western North Carolina Community Foundation. Partners of Joyce Kilmer-Slickrock Wilderness, Inc. also contributed hours of in-kind labor assistance.
The work reflects the commitment of many partners to expanding recreational access for a variety of users near the Cheoah Ranger Station and Santeetlah Lake.
“Overall, it’s a great example of another partnership that we have here locally in Graham County. We’re doing some really good things together and I look forward to the future. The sky's the limit here in Graham County and partnerships are the way to make it happen.” said Heath Emmons, recreation program manager for the Cheoah Ranger District.
More information about recreational opportunities here can be found at www.fs.usda.gov/goto/cheoah.