Thursday, September 27, 2012
With the weather cooling off, fall is the perfect time to go for a hike, and Signal Mountain residents are gifted with many options just outside their backdoors. Since certain trails are not well marked, guidance is necessary to keep from becoming lost or to find the area’s more hidden gems.
The Mountain Stewards and town of Signal Mountain Parks Board are teaming up to expand the horizons of local hikers with the upcoming Hiking Trail Open House event at Shackleford Ridge Park Sunday, Sept. 30 from 2-5 p.m.
“The idea is to give people a taste of what there is in terms of hiking,” said Eva Conwell, event organizer and member of the Mountain Stewards. “Over the years, I’ve met many people who have lived here all their lives and don’t know where to find the hiking trails.”
The group will meet at the parking lot at the end of Sam Powell Trail, near the soccer fields past Signal Mountain Middle/High School. Hikers of all ages and abilities will split up to explore different trails starting at the park. Attendees will be guided by Signal Mountain trail experts such as Sam Powell, who helped build many of the local trails, as well as individuals from the Parks Board and Mountain Stewards.
Attendees can choose from hikes which vary in length from 30 minutes to two hours, depending on how much time they have to spend as well as their desired difficulty level. Those without the time to trek can get information on where to find hikes throughout Walden’s Ridge.
“Many people know about them and have heard about them but don’t have a good idea of where to find them,” said Conwell of the featured hikes.
Guides will be able to give specific recommendations, such as which trails are good for families and which ones should be reserved for advanced hikers only.
The hiking trails in Shackleford Ridge Park have changed since the construction of SMMHS, and the maps available on the town of Signal Mountain’s website have yet to be updated, said Conwell.
“There are many trails you cannot find unless somebody guides you,” she said. “You can really get lost in these woods; many trails that look like trails are not, and eventually they just stop.”
Guides will also discuss access points and parking options for particular trails, which are not always obvious, said Conwell.
“If you Google ‘hiking trails on Signal Mountain,’ you don’t really get anything,” she said. “If somebody wants to educate themselves it’s very difficult.”
The event will take place rain or shine, with the pavilion in the park serving as shelter in the case of rain. In addition to information on local trails, a variety of ingredients for attendees to create their own trail mix will also be available.