Local support improves trail network at Lumber River State Park

Hikers were eager to experience the new Laurel LoopTrail despite dreary weather at the dedication.
Hikers were eager to experience the new Laurel Loop Trail despite dreary weather at the dedication.

A new trail segment now winds through the blackwater wetlands and laurel thickets of the Chalk Banks Access of Lumber River State Park in Scotland County, thanks to a local grant and the hard work of park employees.

The 1.5-mile Laurel Loop Trail was dedicated Saturday with the first hikers ignoring a cold rain to enjoy the view. The segment connects with an existing trail to complete a loop, and Chalk Banks now boasts five miles of single-track trail, offering an experience of both woodlands thick with mountain laurel as well as riverbank views.

Although the bulk of the 9,268-acre state park is in Robeson and Columbus counties, the residents of Scotland County were quick to adopt the Chalk Banks Access several miles upstream. The access was opened in 2005 with campsites, picnic grounds and paddling access, after the county helped acquire the land and the town of Wagram extended utility lines to the site.

Although park staff provided most of the labor for the trail project, funds were provided locally through a SPARKPLUG grant – supported in turn by the N.C. Recreation and Park Association, the N.C. Council of Churches, the N.C. PTA , the Center for Environmental Farming Systems and the Blue Cross-Blue Shield Foundation of N.C. SPARKPLUG projects have focused on new recreation opportunities and healthy lifestyles, and have included a new farmer’s market, community gardens and development of exercise/dance programs.

(Contributed by Raven Rock State Park Supt. Jeff Davidson and staff at Lumber River State Park)

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