The Elkin Valley Trail Association will hold a community meeting on Thursday to share the group’s progress and engage the community in future endeavors. Held at the Elkin Center of Surry Community College, the program will include a presentation and public discussion.
An offshoot of the group, Vibrant Elkin, EVTA is a nonprofit organization that serves the greater Elkin area stimulating the economy through trail development and recreational opportunities. Bill Blackley, EVTA chairman, explained all the projects of EVTA are done by volunteers with no paid staff. “Everything we do is free and open to the public,” said Blackley.
Since its beginnings in 2012, EVTA has had involvement from hundreds of individuals, more than 60 businesses, partnerships with the schools, DMV, and area civic organizations. “We had over 4,000 hours of volunteer service last year,” said Blackley.
Eleven miles of hiking trails have been built including a 140-foot bridge, a campground has been developed, a wildflower garden and art sculptures have been created, and historical markers have been installed. The group also is working on mountain bike and horseback riding trails. “The state has devised a master plan from Stone Mountain to Elkin and Jonesville, and all the way to Pilot Mountain, so our trail will go for about 70 miles,” said Blackley.
In addition, the group has created programs and events to engage people looking for outdoor recreation. The birding group hosts birding walks and has identified 129 species along the trail, according to Blackley. The Tour de Vino is a road bike ride up to 100 miles during the wine festival. The Trail Boogie brings is a day of music and dancing outdoors. A 5k and 10k race on the trails is called Insane Terrain. The Duck and Turtle Regatta is a family event during the fall.
Some volunteers serve as Trail Angels, locals who provide assistance to long distance trail hikers. “We can try to find them a place to stay or take them out to eat,” said Blackley, noting weather conditions can affect the level of assistance required. Paddlers also are welcomed during Nights of the Village and throughout the summer.
Projects still under development include the dog park and a mountain bike course which is due to open this summer. A project with Watershed Now consists of working to clean up Elkin Creek over the next two years. “We focus on safety and maintenance,” said Blackley.
Individuals are invited to get involved with the trails while following their own interest. Whether their passion is for running, cycling, music, art, or just being outdoors, the EVTA has a special project to inspire each volunteer. Each committee will man an informational table at the meeting. “Mostly it’s like a bunch of friends; we just have a good time,” said Blackley.
The program, located at 1416 N. Bridge St., will begin at 7 p.m. on Thursday. For more information about the Elkin Valley Trail Association, visit elkinvalleytrails.org.
“Not everyone can afford to have a big vacation, but our trails are a vacation right here in town,” said Blackley.
Diane Blakemore may be reached at 336-368-2222 or on twitter @PilotReporter.