Old Fort, NC, November 9, 2023— The USDA Forest Service Grandfather Ranger District and partners at the G5 Trail Collective will open the newly constructed Meadows Loop Trail on Sunday November 19, 2023. The trail will open at noon with a short celebration as part of G5 Trail Collective’s Old Fort Volunteer Trail Work Weekend. The Meadows Loop is a 1-mile, ADA-accessible, hike-only trail that is located adjacent to the new Old Fort Gateway Trailhead, a 100-car parking area that opened as part of the first phase of improvements in June 2022. The hiking and wheelchair accessible trail provides a true beginner-friendly experience along a wide-gravel surface along Curtis Creek. “The Meadows Loop allows visitors to access Curtis Creek for fishing and swimming, traverse through a wetland on a series of boardwalks, and walk alongside a meadow for bird watching and wildlife viewing,” says Lisa Jennings, Recreation Manager for the U.S. Forest Service Grandfather Ranger District. “We are excited to provide such a unique and accessible experience on the Pisgah National Forest.” The Meadows Loop trail is funded by McDowell County as part of a grant from the North Carolina Water Resources Program. The trail, including 2 bridges and 2 boardwalks, was constructed under the leadership of the G5 Trail Collective over the past year. Support from Athletic Brewing’s Two for the Trails program, FOX’s Trail Trust, and Carolina CAT additionally supported the work through funding staff time and equipment. “The Meadows Loop trail project was truly a community build,” explains Jason McDougald, executive director of Camp Grier and its G5 Trail Collective. “Our trail specialist, Jon Lane, led crews from many organizations, including local G5 volunteers and staff, the Forest Service Grandfather District trail crew, Foothills Local Meats, Ground to Crown Tree Care, Landmark Project, Made by Mountains, students from McDowell Tech Community College, and Youth Conservation Crew members from Conservation Corps NC. The product is a beautiful trail experience that we can all be proud of building together.”
The trail opening is the first phase of a larger project to restore the rare bottomland hardwood forest and provide educational opportunities. The final phases of the project will include additional invasive species treatments, wetland enhancement, native plantings, and streambank stabilization to help provide sustainable access to fishing along Curtis Creek. All improvements are set to be complete by mid-2024. A formal ribbon cutting celebrating completion of the project will be held in summer 2024. The Grandfather District and G5 Trail Collective invite the community to join the Old Fort Volunteer Trail Work Weekend on Sunday morning to complete the finishing touches together, followed by an opening celebration from noon to 12:30pm. After the opening, the trail portions will be open for everyone to enjoy while the remaining phases are completed. For more information and to RSVP to the Old Fort Trail Work Weekend visit: Fall Trail-Work Weekend 2023 | G5 Trail Collective. Join us for the weekend or just Sunday at the Meadows Loop Trail.