-bUILD A community trail-

People adding gravel to a trail.

Volunteers have been key to getting the trail built. The school hosts volunteer days, where they invite student groups, churches, boy scouts, and community members out to work on the trail. They have found that their Facebook page is the best way to reach a wide variety of people.

Enola Community Trail

Morganton, NC - Burke County

When the students at Patton High School learned that their county was ranked among the least healthiest in the state, they decided to do something about it. Through research, they learned that there were very few places to be active in their community. The students decided to build a trail to get more people outside and moving. After many hours of planning, digging, and building, they now have a 1-mile long trail that is used by both students and community members.

A team of teachers and students began by brainstorming how to build the trail. They knew that the land behind the school was an ideal location, because the trail could connect with both an elementary school and a neighborhood where many students lived. The team also conducted community surveys and held a public visioning meeting. They came away with three goals:

  • Create a natural, rather than paved, trail

  • Connect schools

  • Allow people to bike and walk

With a plan in mind, the school teamed up with Habitat for Humanity to apply for a small grant. They also received a grant from a local church, Salem United Methodist. With this funding, and a lot of hard work from community volunteers, they were able to build the trail.

The trail is now open to anyone who would like to use it. The school also hosts events on the trail, including an annual 5K. Future plans include mountain biking, a storybook walk, and expanding the trail into a 3-mile loop.

The trail team had some suggestions for anyone who wants to build a trail:

  • Research Potential Sites: Most counties have a website where you can research property lines, property owners, and features on the land. The school used Burke County GIS to look up who owned the land near the school. Your county government may be able to help you with this.

  • Build the Trail to Last: The team used a red clay base with agriculture cloth underneath, which will maintain the trail. They put crushed gravel on top and packed it with a steam roller to prevent weeds.

  • Think about Water Runoff: The team consulted with Burke Soil and Water to make sure rain would run off the trail, rather than washing it out.  They did this by building the trail up and digging swales, or shallow ditches, along the trail.

  • Get Started: Once you’ve done your research, get started with what you have. The school found that they had to start building the trail before got any real attention from the community or funders.

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