Great news for lovers of the outdoors: Plans are underway to construct several miles of trails in our neighborhood of Pisgah National Forest in Old Fort, North Carolina, and to improve on existing trails! We are super excited about this news because it means there will be even more opportunities for our fellow Old Fort residents and our guests at the Inn on Mill Creek Bed & Breakfast to enjoy getting out in nature.
Camp Grier, our good neighbor down the road (on Old US Hwy 70 heading to Old Fort), has teamed up with the US Forest Service to create the non-profit G5 Collective, whose mission is to work with local partners to improve existing trails and create new trails in our area. “G5” stands for the five counties that are part of Pisgah National Forest’s Grandfather District, one of which is our county – McDowell County, NC. We already have some really beautiful trails in our area and the Collective will be making sure those trails stay in good shape, while adding even more.
Examples of the Collective’s recent work include maintenance on the popular Kitsuma and Star Gap trails, which are about two miles (in opposite directions) from the Inn on Mill Creek. In addition, the Collective was awarded an IMBA Trail Accelerator Grant as well as funding from the local community group People on the Move Old Fort to add approximately 35 miles – yes, you read that right, thirty-five miles – of new multi-use trails starting in 2021 right in our backyard. Literally. One of the proposed trails is steps away from the Inn on Mill Creek B&B, incorporating the Forest Service road along Bernard Mountain (the ridgeline above our pond). Another will connect Point Lookout Trail near the Inn with the Old Fort Picnic Grounds on Old US Hwy 70 via a different Forest Service road.
Several more of the proposed trails are just a few miles down the road from the Inn on Mill Creek, while others are in the Curtis Creek Recreation Area just east of town. There is even a proposed trail extension at Catawba Falls to form a loop that links the current trail that leads to the lower falls with a new trail to the upper falls.
The Collective has been holding a series of public virtual meetings on Zoom over the past several weeks to talk about the project and to make sure that all of our local community groups – hikers, horseback riders, mountain bikers, and nature lovers for example, as well as local residents in traditionally underserved communities – have their voices heard when it comes to planning the trail system. The trails will have something for everyone, from beginners to seasoned outdoor enthusiasts and all of us in between.
Did we mention we are super excited about this news?