The first fully completed section of the Heber Springs Trail system is ready for the public
As communities across the nation increasingly learn the aesthetic and health values of bike/walking trails, organizations and municipalities have come together to provide them for the benefit of their citizens. While some of the larger cities in Arkansas have come to understand the value of these trails and invested in projects to build them, Fayetteville being an excellent example, smaller communities have been slow to recognize the important contributions trail systems provide for their residents. The Greers Ferry Lake area, however, is one of those small communities that has begun to recognize the importance of walking/bike trails, not only for leisure and aesthetics, but also for the contributions they make to the overall physical health of the community and providing safe pathways of transportation for pedestrians and bikers. With that in mind, organizations such as the Greers Ferry Lake Trails Council and the Sugarloaf Heritage Council have exhaustively worked to raise awareness and resources to provide these quality of life improvements for our area. Next Friday, March 21st, at noon, they will be opening the Sulphur Creek Trail, which is the first fully completed leg of the Heber Springs Trail System.
According to information provided by the Greers Ferry Lake Trails Council, the Sulphur Creek Trail, which was funded by the Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department (AHTD) and the City of Heber Springs, began construction last August and ultimately cost $150,000, with the AHTD paying 80% of those costs. The trail is paved and is compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) so that anyone, regardless of physical limitations, can enjoy the trail system. A parking area that holds approximately 8 spaces is located at the trail and a kiosk will be installed with a trail map and information for visitors.
There are a large number of people in our community that enjoy walking, for both leisure and exercise. There are excellent places to fill this need, such as the Community Center or Spring Park, but for those that enjoy an extended walk outdoors that doesn’t involve walking in circles, these trails will provide an great alternative. Not only do they provide visual enjoyment for leisure walkers, but, in a community such as ours that lacks an adequate sidewalk system, they also will provide a safe route for pedestrians. In addition, they provide a safe form of travel for cyclists who consistently face dangers from vehicle drivers that don’t understand a bicycles right of way on streets.
The Sulphur Creek Trail is a major accomplishment, but is only the first leg of the extensive trail system planned for our community. Both the Heber Springs Trail System and the Sugarloaf Trail System will provide a large interconnected path for the enjoyment of both residents and visitors alike. If you are interested in learning more about the plans for the Heber Springs Trail System, visit their website at www.gfltc.com. They ask anyone who visits the website to take part in their survey so they may learn more about the community’s interests in the trails. Also, any plans involving the trail involve local civic leadership, so if you support the trail network, call your Heber Springs City Council member and let them know you support developing this important resource for our community.