Federal funding fuels rehab of two popular trails
Funding from the Great American Outdoors Act has allowed the U.S. Forest Service to wrap up a decade of deferred maintenance on two of North Carolina’s most heavily trafficked hiking trails.
The American Conservation Experience, with support from the N.C. High Peaks Association and USFS, completed more than 1,110 hours of deferred maintenance on Mount Mitchell and Higgins Bald Trails. The crew spent six weeks on the lower 3 miles of Mount Mitchell Trail and 1.2 miles of Higgins Bald Trail. They improved 2 miles of trails, which included brushing, constructing three rock steps and hardening trail sections. They improved more than 1 mile of tread, constructing 18 drainage features, installing 31 grade dips and improving or maintaining 28 existing drainage structures.
Basic maintenance of the trails has been a focus of the High Peaks Trail Association for more than a decade, but some maintenance projects like cleaning water bars and re-establishing tread were put off due to the cost of materials and labor. Due to $20,000 from the GAOA, the partners were able to organize and complete the deferred maintenance.
The GAOA-funded project on the lower section of the trails converged with a High Peaks Trail Association project covering the half-mile middle section and upper 2.5 miles of the Mount Mitchell Trail. The Recreational Trails Program provided a $65,000 grant for rerouting and maintenance, the project’s fourth RTP grant to date.