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Cumberland Friends of the Trails Open New Hiking Trail By Crossville Memorial Airport

/ The Upper Cumberland's News Leader
Cumberland Friends of the Trails Open New Hiking Trail By Crossville Memorial Airport

Hiking fans can enjoy a new trail by the Crossville Memorial Airport, built by the Cumberland County Friends of the Trails.

The airport trail is just over two miles long and took some six weeks to finish. Friends President John Conrad said the Airport North Trail was all about location.

“I personally believe that it’s better to have the trails as close to people’s homes as possible,” Conrad said. “People can go out to the state park or out on the Cumberland Trail or wherever, drive a few miles, but if we can get them closer and closer to people’s homes, the more people will use them. And this new trail, the Airport North Trail, is basically in a residential area, so there’s a lot of homes nearby.”

The Airport North Trail cost about $20,000 to build. Having started building trails in 2015, Conrad said they understand the work needed to finish the project. Volunteers do the majority of the work.

“So the volunteers go into the property and decide on the route for the trail and then adjust that route to make sure that the gradients are not too steep because many of our hikers are elderly,” Conrad said. “And we try and do design trails that are not too steep. And the other big factor is designing the trail to be sustainable, that is, will continue to exist with minimal maintenance. And one of the big problems with trails is water erosion. So when we’re doing the design, we put in as many features as we can to ensure that water doesn’t run down the trail.”

Conrad said once the design is complete, professionals assist with truly clearing the path.

“An excavator comes in and follows the route and scraping the topsoil off and clearing roots and rocks along the route to make a flat trail bed,” Conrad said. “Then the volunteers come back in and do what we call grooming, which is snipping off any existing roots and removing any trip hazards along the trail and generally spreading any of these surplus materials so that it integrates back into the woodland as soon as possible.”

The Friends of the Trails does hold an annual fundraiser. The organization also receives individual donations, but it also gets funds from the city and grants to help complete its work.

“The city of Crossville is very generous and makes donations to friends of the trails each year,” Conrad said, “That is our primary source of funding for the trails.”

The group has completed some 14 miles of trails in Crossville. Conrad said they try to complete at least one or two miles of new trails each year.

“We’ve got it down into a good routine now,” Conrad said. “We are a volunteer organization, we have many experienced trail builders.”


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