By Emma Castleberry
A new, multi-use trail has opened in Bracken Mountain Preserve, which connects the City of Brevard and Pisgah National Forest. A 1.5-mile trail for hiking and biking, the Pinnacle Trail was crafted in part by volunteers from Friends of Brevard Area Trails and Summer of Service. Conserving Carolina brought together these two groups under the leadership of professional trail builders with Long Cane Trails. “This new trail makes Bracken Mountain Preserve more of a single destination, a way to spend the better part of a day,” says Torry Nergart, conservation easement manager for Conserving Carolina. “Just minutes from downtown is a wild, natural experience waiting to be had.”
Participants in Summer of Service, an AmeriCorps program for local 17- to 20-year- olds, contributed 239 hours to create the Pinnacle Trail. Many of the volunteers with Friends of Brevard Area Trails also helped to build the first trails in Bracken Mountain Preserve five years ago. The new trail rounds out the trail system in Bracken Mountain Preserve to about nine miles.
In August, the Brevard City Council voted to name the trail after the Pinnacle community, a historic settlement in the Brevard area. Among the founders of Pinnacle were Laughing Water, a young woman from the Blackfoot nation, and Tom, an African-American, both of whom had escaped from captivity. Laughing Water and Tom moved their large family to the mountains in the early 1860s to avoid typhoid fever. “The City takes pride in its cultural heritage and has utilized interpretive signage within Bracken to help connect our citizens and visitors to our area’s history,” says city planner Aaron Bland.
The surrounding communities were intimately involved in the development of the Pinnacle Trail. Local bike shops helped to market the work days, including a trail stewardship day with youth from the Rosenwald neighborhood. “This trail was made with full community buy-in,” says Nergart. “So much so that lots of good folks showed up to do the actual physical work of making it a reality.” Community buy-in was given more readily because Brevard’s trails are designed to offer access for all ability levels. “Since Brevard’s trails range from a cinder path in Pisgah National Forest, to a paved greenway through town, to flowy dirt trails in Bracken, anyone can use some part of the trails,” says Nergart.
The use of volunteers reduced the cost of building the trail by as much as 50 percent. John Wiseman, a volunteer with Friends of Brevard Area Trails, spent his time cutting roots along the trail corridor. “Bracken Mountain preserve is in the back yard of the residents of Brevard and has a beautiful trail network,” says Wiseman. “It would be the envy of any community, and we have it: a gateway to the National Forest.”