Although many locals have enjoyed the beautiful Mountains-to-Sea Trail, the Yadkin River Trail, and the Overmountain Victory Trail around the Elkin area, some may not be aware of the many volunteer hours and organizations which make those trails possible.
The Elkin Valley Trails Association (EVTA) provides most of the work for the trails. Dr. William Blackley wanted to form EVTA as a group of volunteers that originally sought to “boost our local economy” through various improvement projects. Since 2011, one of the ways they have achieved this is the Mountains-to-Sea Trail which is a multi-group project that spans the entire state. The EVTA has the section that runs from Stone Mountain to Greensboro. Fortunately, part of the trail runs straight through Elkin.
In order to complete the Elkin section of the trail, EVTA has worked closely with the town of Elkin and also county governments in Surry and Wilkes counties. The EVTA also has been part of the North Carolina Rail-Trails (NCRT) which is a group of organizations that work on the Rail Trails of North Carolina.
All the trail signs and the restoration of the E & A (railroad bed) Trail was thanks to the EVTA and Spencer Douglas’ Eagle Scout Project, which provided the benches and foundations. For that project, the EVTA received the Golden Spike Award.
During the restoration and construction of the trail, several buildings were restored, bridges were built, and two of these bridges were built in association with the Yadkin Valley Trail Riders Club. Signs also were put up throughout the trails.
From 2014 to 2015, there was a native bird and plant species identification project on a section of the trail and identification signs have been installed to educate visitors.
In 2013, the group commissioned a four-ton granite arrowhead to memorialize the Boone Highway in downtown Elkin. The EVTA also partnered with the 7794 Post of the VFW and the Overmountain Victory Trail Association to honor Captain Mark Garner in 2014. In Garner’s honor, they placed a memorial marker in the Elkin Municipal Park.
Through construction projects, maintenance and publicizing, the EVTA is busy achieving the goals Blackley envisioned in the beginning: improving the quality of life and the economy. Get more information about upcoming events at elkinvalleytrails.org. Volunteers are always welcome.
Harry DeCelle is a member of the Elkin High School Journalism Club.