The A.T. Community of Dalton created this video in memory of Kay Wood, a local hero for the Appalachian Trail and Dalton, Massachusetts! Watch it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c3fGW7R9rsc
Star staff reports
May 14, 2018
BERRYVILLE — After months of planning and waiting for appropriate conditions for construction, an expanded parking lot is now open in Clarke County near the Appalachian Trail, just in time for the busy hiking season. The parking lot is north of Va. 7 (Harry Byrd Highway) and east of the village of Pine Grove.
Previously, only about 10 cars could fit in a small, gravel parking lot off Route 679 at Raven Rocks, an access point to the 2,190-mile Appalachian Trail. Construction of a much larger lot began in November 2017 and was completed on May 8. The larger lot can now accommodate 30 vehicles or more.
“We are really pleased to open an expanded parking lot for residents and visitors who want to enjoy the Appalachian Trail,” said Alison Teetor, natural resource planner for Clarke County who oversaw the project. “The Board of Supervisors recognized a need based on an increasingly dangerous situation and decided to fund the expansion.”
The 5.5-mile Raven Rocks stretch of the Appalachian Trail is popular with day hikers. But once the small lot was full, too many people parked their vehicles along the shoulders of Pine Grove Road (Route 679) and Va. 7. That practice is dangerous and — as indicated by numerous “No Parking” signs — illegal.
Solving the problem took money as well as collaboration between the Clarke County Board of Supervisors and Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT), which is responsible for state-owned roads. The Potomac Appalachian Trail Club helped identify the boundaries for an expanded lot as it is the organization that cares for the trail in Maryland and West Virginia as well as parts of Pennsylvania and Virginia, including the 22 miles of trail in Clarke County.
Last year, VDOT engineers looked at the Raven Rocks area and determined there was enough existing right-of-way to create a lot that could accommodate between 25 and 35 vehicles. VDOT did not have funds in its budget to finance the parking lot expansion, but the Board of Supervisors was keen to improve parking and safety near the trail for everyone — hikers, residents and people driving through the area.
In November, the Clarke County Board of Supervisors approved a $7,100 expenditure to clear the land. The second phase — grading and gravel — waited until early spring. The supervisors approved an additional $8,200 bringing the total project cost to $15,300.
In January, the Board of Supervisors took another step to improve safety on county roads when it amended the Clarke County Code related to illegally parked vehicles. The supervisors began looking at the code last fall in response to concerns expressed by residents, visitors and the Clarke County Sheriff’s Office about dangerous parking situations along roads.
Now, the new code gives law enforcement officers the option of issuing citations or having vehicles towed when they are illegally parked. Previously, all law enforcement officers could do was call for tow trucks.
After the parking ordinance was amended, the supervisors asked VDOT to install more “No Parking” signs along roads such as Va. 7 near the Appalachian Trail as well as heavily traveled spots along U.S. 50, U.S. 340 and Lockes Mill Road.
Raven Rocks is one of four Appalachian Trail access points in Clarke County, where 22 miles of the AT run along the Blue Ridge Mountains. In 2015, Clarke County was officially recognized as an Appalachian Trail Community by the Appalachian Trail Conservancy. The Appalachian Trail Community program helps communities generate awareness of the iconic trail as well as preserve and protect the AT.
The Appalachian Trail, which was conceived by forester Benton MacKaye in 1921, is the longest hiking-only footpath in the world.
473 A.T. Community volunteers reported 4,524 hours
(outside of club hours contributed)
*Collected from a survey and interviews in late 2017
Awareness of the Trail as a local resource:
Abingdon, VA: A.T. Community and MRATC staff a booth at the Spring Festival and Earth Day Festival.
Blairsville, GA: The Appalachian Trail in North Georgia History Project involved many local citizens who are not hikers or involved with GATC. The final products from the project included a booklet, which is now being re-printed due to high demand, and display materials that have been used in school presentations, the ATC Biennial, Dahlonega Trail Fest, and many other events. Volunteers also created a presentation about the benefits of becoming a Community Supporter and hosted presentations for local businesses through the Chamber of Commerce.
Boiling Springs, PA: A.T. Community presence at Christmas Tree Lighting in partnership with Girl Scout volunteers. Hosts annual Boiling Springs A.T. Music Festival. A portion of the proceeds from biannual Hiker Happy Hours are donated to ATC.
Buena Vista, VA: New regional tourism website was created which heavily features the A.T.
Dahlonega, GA: The annual Dahlonega Trail Fest includes workshops on topics including thru-hiking basics, the threat of invasive species, how to get involved with GATC, etc.
Dalton, MA: Provided a workshop for community members on hosting hikers. Developed a Town of Dalton A.T. postcard at hikers’ requests. Publicity leading up to designation included a radio interview, meetings with business owners and the Town of Dalton Select Board, and community outreach through Grow Dalton (community development organization).
Damascus, VA: Hosts annual Trail Days festival.
Duncannon, PA: Hosts one outdoor education-themed event (usually a hike) each month. At the base of Hawk Rock overlook, volunteers staff a booth during the summer with cookies and “I Hiked Hawk Rock” t-shirts. Proceeds support trail maintenance, graffiti removal, and annual Duncannon A.T. festival.
Franklin, NC: Hosts month-long annual Franklin Trail Days with events hosted by Community Supporters. Annual “Walking with Spring” series at the local library highlights the A.T., its hikers, and local environmental issues.
Front Royal/Warren County, VA: The town trolley ran twice daily shuttles to the Trail for the two peak months of hiker activity. Without prompting from the A.T. Community Committee, the town determined that the trolley will service the A.T. crossing for the entire hiker season in 2018.
Great Barrington, MA: Annual A.T. Celebration Day includes guided hikes for local community members.
Greater Waynesboro Area, PA: Host monthly hikes on the A.T. for local community members. Annual Mason-Dixon A.T. Festival includes activities designed for kids and involvement from local businesses and non-profit organizations. Volunteers table monthly throughout the spring, summer, and fall at various community events to educate the public about A.T. Community efforts. Both local libraries have requested that A.T. Community volunteers speak about the program and the A.T. (planned for 2018).
Harlem Valley, NY: Annual Trail Day includes guided hikes, boardwalk maintenance, etc. Harlem Valley A.T. Community Committee received the 2017 Dutchess County Tourism Outdoors Award of Distinction.
Hiawassee/Towns County, GA: Designed and produced a comprehensive map of every hiking trail in Towns County. Distributed Hikers Map and Towns County Hiking Trails maps to all the business that serve hikers. Worked with City of Hiawassee in developing a kiosk promoting the A.T. for the new Mayor’s Park in Hiawassee town center.
Hot Springs, NC: The new town library, located directly on the A.T., was designed with a room dedicated for hikers to store their things, charge phones, and learn about services and events in town. Volunteers also host an annual Trail Fest to promote the A.T. to locals and promote Hot Springs to hikers/tourists.
Nelson County, VA: ATC was invited to table at the Hoopla music festival at Devils Backbone Brewing Company alongside several other regional conservation organizations.
Pearisburg and Narrows, VA: The importance of the A.T. was considered and included in the Tourism Development Plan for Giles County (which includes Pearisburg and Narrows). The A.T. and ATC are featured heavily on the Giles County tourism website.
Roan Mountain, TN: Combined designation ceremony with unveiling of new stage in community park to garner broader attendance. Recruited a dozen businesses as Community Supporters.
Warwick, NY: Sent out press release to announce creation of website, and several larger regional newspapers they had assumed would not be interested actually contacted them to get the information as well. Spoke to several community groups and hosted a presentation at the library with 85 people in attendance. Planning hikes for Rotary members and local senior citizens for spring 2018. Led a hike for Chamber of Commerce members.
Waynesboro, VA: Staffed a booth at Xtremefest. Recruited 12 local businesses as Community Supporters. Four blog posts on Waynesboro’s official tourism site highlighted the A.T. and Waynesboro’s status as an A.T. Community in 2017.
Several A.T. Communities maintain websites and/or Facebook pages to publicize local hiking routes and directions, trail maintenance opportunities, and A.T. Community efforts or events. Almost all of them also use these outlets to disseminate Leave No Trace information and announcements from ATC. The Blairsville/Union County and Warwick websites both receive approximately 5000 unique visitors per year (data is unknown for the other pages).
Blairsville/Union County, GA: Website
Boiling Springs, PA: Facebook
Duncannon, PA: Facebook │ Website
Fontana Dam, NC: Facebook
Greater Waynesboro Area, PA: Facebook│Website
Harlem Valley, NY: Facebook
Harpers Ferry/Bolivar, WV: Facebook
Roan Mountain, TN: Facebook
Warwick, NY: Website
Berryville/Clarke County, VA: Currently working to enlarge the local trailhead parking area, an effort that involves Virginia DOT, Clarke County Board of Supervisors, and Clarke County Planning Department.
Buena Vista, VA: As part of a master plan to connect Buena Vista and Lexington to the George Washington-Jefferson National Forests with walking trails and promote outdoor recreation and public lands in the area, the town of Buena Vista secured a grant to connect the Chessie Trail to the town’s riverwalk.
Damascus, VA: The town is revising its zoning ordinances to ensure that the town continues to be accommodating to hikers, tourists, and local citizens alike, and will be revising the comprehensive plan in 2018 for the same purpose. These zoning ordinances include revisions related to the new Visitor Center.
Front Royal/Warren County, VA: The Front Royal Town Council and the Warren County Board of Supervisors passed formal resolutions opposing a proposed NPS fee hike for Shenandoah National Park.
Hanover, NH: Recent purchase of Rennie Farm, expanding the A.T. corridor, was celebrated in June.
Pearisburg and Narrows, VA: Grassroots group Preserve Giles County organized to oppose the construction of the Mountain Valley Pipeline through the area. Support for the pipeline has been minimal in rural Giles County, where people see the A.T. as an important asset to the community (a view that has become much more prevalent in recent years thanks to ATC’s engagement through the A.T. Community program). As such, ATC and RATC have been able to focus resources and organizing elsewhere.
Increased sense of stewardship:
Dalton, MA: Four A.T. Community volunteers were trained by AMC-Berkshire as section maintainers to keep up sections previously unclaimed sections near Dalton. Dalton Boy Scouts refreshed the blazes in these sections. Signage is being added at a confusing trail junction.
Front Royal/Warren County, VA: 11 Girl Scouts and 6 adults completed a bridge repair and invasive species removal project..
Greater Waynesboro Area, PA: An Eagle Scout and other members of a local Boy Scout troop built a new trailhead kiosk.
Hiawassee/Towns County: Volunteer authoring an op-ed in the local paper in early spring 2018 explaining why concentrated “trail magic” is bad for the Trail.
Hanover, NH: The local library hosted several events regarding stewardship. Topics have included black bear awareness and safety, local connectivity of the A.T. and protected lands, and how to get involved with trail maintenance efforts.
Hot Springs, NC: Local teachers invited ATC staff to teach Leave No Trace Awareness courses at their school. One became trained as a Leave No Trace Trainer in order to teach future courses.
Manchester, VT: Community volunteers assist GMC with regular trail maintenance projects.
Nelson County, VA: Staff from Devils Backbone Brewing Company performed trail maintenance as a corporate retreat. Similar plans are in the works for Blue Mountain Brewery, another Community Supporter.
Roan Mountain, TN: Recruited volunteers for several trail maintenance events, including intensive rehab of the Stan Murray Shelter in partnership with TEHCC. Currently planning to take on Hard Core trail maintenance day as part of the annual town celebration of the A.T.
Warwick, NY: A local Eagle Scout is currently building a kiosk at the Route 17A crossing, which should be completed in 2018. Local volunteers assisted with the re-planking of the Pochuck Boardwalk.
Blairsville/Union County, GA: Family Hiking Day event in Blairsville was attended by 40 people, including a Girl Scout troop, and included education about Leave No Trace and the history of the A.T. The Blairsville A.T. Committee partnered with REI and the Georgia Mountain Research and Education Center to create a mini A.T. hike for 3rd and 5th grade students in the area to educate them about the Trail.
Boiling Springs, PA: Hosted National Trails Day and Family Hiking Day events that were well attended.
Dalton, MA: A.T. Community volunteers assisted with and attended the Trail to Every Classroom mini-workshop held in Dalton.
Franklin, NC: School outreach programs get several classes of students on Trail each year and reach scores more through in-school programs. Local storyteller received A.T. license plate grant to bring her A.T. stories to schools throughout western North Carolina.
Greater Waynesboro Area, PA: Family Hiking Day event attracted brand new hikers to the Trail.
Hanover, NH: The Recreation Department sponsored a summer hiking contest, similar to a summer reading program, for kids and families.
Harlem Valley, NY: Partnered with Groundwork Hudson Valley to bring NY youth to learn trail maintenance skills, build a Little Free Library for the local A.T. shelter, and hear about jobs in conservation via a program called Trains 2 Trails.
Harrisonburg, VA: Hosted successful Family Hiking Day and Great American Camp Out events.
Kingfield, ME: Local storyteller spent a day at Kingfield Elementary School presenting her trail diary and teaching about trail ethics.
North Adams, MA: Youth organizations are heavily involved with the annual A.T. festival, and local schools use the Trail as part of art classes.
Roan Mountain, TN: Roan Mountain State Park partnered with A.T. Community volunteers to host a Girls Outdoors Workshop during which participants camped, performed science experiments, and learned about Leave No Trace and the A.T.
Network building for ATC, land management agencies, and clubs:
Boiling Springs, PA: There is a terrific relationship with the local tourism bureau to the point that, when ATC submits grant requests, the tourism bureau often directs ATC to ask for more funding.
Dalton, MA: Hosted AMC-Berkshire’s regional volunteer gathering in March 2017.
Damascus, VA: Collaborating with ATC to build A.T. Visitor Center.
Franklin, NC: Hosts biannual Hiker Happy Hour at local breweries as recruitment events for NHC.
Hot Springs, NC: The historic Walnut Mountain Shelter, which is being retired by the USFS, will be moved into Hot Springs just behind the town welcome center. This project is a partnership between Cherokee National Forest, CMC, and the town of Hot Springs, which originated from conversation at the 2017 Southern Partnership Meeting.
Monson, ME: A.T. Visitor Center was heavily supported by Town Manager. It was relocated in 2017 to the center of downtown by reconstructing part of the Monson Historical Society building. Four volunteers from the Historical Society completed the reconstruction.
Pearisburg, VA: As depicted in the myATstory video “Contagious Love,” local business owner Sonu Chawla has embraced the A.T., hikers, and Konnarock Trail Crew. Sonu hosts an annual pool party as appreciation for Konnarock volunteers, among many other efforts.
Roan Mountain, TN: Carter County staff took on the maintenance of a previously abandoned USFS picnic site after discussions at the Southern Partnership Meeting.
Additionally, while not explicitly asked about this during the process of gathering this information, many A.T. Community representatives noted that local government officials actively support the A.T. and understand its importance to the town because of the A.T. Community program. These communities include:
|Dalton, MA||Hanover, NH||Manchester, VT||Warwick, NY|
|Damascus, VA||Harlem Valley, NY||Monson, ME||Waynesboro, VA|
|Front Royal/Warren County, VA||Hiawassee, GA||North Adams, MA|
|Glasgow, VA||Hot Springs, NC||Roan Mountain, TN|
Great resources for community planning:
Check out the story about North Adams’ designation as the newest A.T. Community here!
Norwich — “The Upper Valley Land Trust says it has acquired conservation easements to protect more than 70 acres of open space in the hilly terrain near the Norwich-Hartford town line, helping to expand a greenway of conserved land near the Appalachian Trail corridor.”