By Louisville Metro Parks Community Relations Staff
A new 1.5-mile hiking trail being developed at Jefferson Memorial Forest will, for the first time, connect more than 35 miles of existing hiking trails when it is completed in time for National Trails Day on June 5, 2010.
The volunteer trail-building effort is funded in part by a $5,000 grant from Nature Valley and the American Hiking Society’s Save the Trails initiative. Since the Louisville Metro Parks Foundation was awarded the grant in May 2009, staff at the Forest have conducted seven trail work days along the trail, with one occurring each month.
In addition, a new piece of property acquired in November by Metro Parks will soon offer new hiking opportunities for visitors to Jefferson Memorial Forest. The acquisition brings the Forest’s total acreage to 6,218.
The 27-acre property will tie together three previously disconnected sections of the Forest, near Mitchell Hill Road and Holsclaw Hill Road. Here is some more information, including a map of new trail construction.
The next trail work day will take place on Feb. 13th, the second Saturday of the month. Subsequent work days will take place on March 13, April 10 and May 8. To volunteer or for more information, please contact Sherry Wright at 502-380-7433.
Wright recently talked a little bit about some of the challenges of trail-building during the winter months.
Q: Is it challenging to undergo new trail construction during the winter?
Wright: Actually, winter is easier – no bugs! Seriously, the ground is more receptive to disturbance when it isn’t trying so valiantly to produce life. We can clear, grade and compact the surface tread without disturbing biota. There have been 1-2 slumbering Eastern Box turtles uncovered, but they were relocated without ever waking up.
Q: I know you guys have scheduled work days throughout the winter – what unique challenges does that pose?
Wright: Recruiting is always an issue, especially in colder temps. Keeping volunteers hydrated is as important in winter as summer, but they prefer warm beverages over the water their body needs; also offering frequent warm-up breaks can be problematic as the work stretches farther from the building.
Q: Are forest patrons excited about it? What sort of feedback have you gotten?
Wright: People are pleased to have visible progress and are excited about another hiking opportunity. The hikers who frequent the Horine section are especially pleased that they will be able to leave from the Welcome Center – no Horine parking pass, no driving Holsclaw Hill Road to get there, the ability to hike there rather than drive, and the return to the Welcome Center means they can purchase drinks and snacks before or after.