Over the past couple months I have been getting involved with an emerging trail project in Carthage called Walnut Bottoms. It’s a walking/running/mountain bike trail that winds it’s way through some beautiful bottomland forest along Spring River. It has been fun and interesting, particularly seeing how it works and how much effort they have put in to make a project like this a reality.
This trail, like many others has it’s own unique set of challenges in addition to the obvious one of simply acquiring land and building and maintaining a functioning trail. Most, if not all of the land is subject to periodic flooding, after which the trail may be wet or muddy for a period of time and covered with trees and other flood debris. It also means some areas are perpetually soft and muddy, so that is something to work around. A challenge to trails that I have never really understood is opposition from adjacent landowners – this trail has some of that as well.
In spite of the challenges, I believe this trail has some amazing potential. Right now, there is a roughly 2.5 mile loop that can be traversed on foot or mountain bike, with another mile or so that seems to be close to completion. Being a new trail, it’s a bit difficult to navigate in a few spots, but when I rode it I didn’t have too much trouble finding my way. Being bottomland it’s a generally flat trail, but there are many small ups and downs that make it interesting. I rode my hybrid bike and while I would not recommend that type of bike on the trail, it was still a lot of fun! I recently discovered how much fun mountain biking is, and with the lack of places to ride mountain bikes around here, I am excited about this trail just a few miles from home!
If you want to check out the trail and the progress, the parking area is located at the end of old North Main St in the Kendricktown neighborhood north of Carthage. Take Garrison from Carthage across Spring River and turn right. Residents at that intersection have collected mind blowing quantities of junk vehicles in and around the street, so at first glance it looks like a private drive – don’t let that scare you away, it’s actually Main Street and the trail parking area is at the end of that road on the right!