Clarke County Opens Expanded parking near A.T.

Star staff reports
May 14, 2018

berryville parking lotBERRYVILLE — 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.

New Community Supporters in Franklin

The Franklin Chamber of Commerce, First Baptist Church (FBC) of Franklin and Three Eagles Outfitters in NC were recently recognized for its support to the Appalachian Trail Community Program by a visit from AT Community Committee members.

Since Franklin’s formal designation in March 2010 as an A.T. Community the  Chamber has helped build public awareness about the significant resources and economic opportunities the Appalachian National Scenic Trail brings to Franklin as an A.T. Community.  The Chamber highlights Franklin as an AT Community in the New Comers Guide along with AT hike information, and they provide space for an AT display in the Chamber building.

Three Eagles Outfitters was recently recognized for their support to the Appalachian Trail Community Program by a visit from AT Community Committee members. For more than 20 years Three Eagles has offered support for AT hikers. They offer AT discounts, internet service, coffee bar & lounge, in-town shuttles to the store, and free mail drop service for hikers.

FBC serves a free hiker breakfast for four weeks in the spring, takes a photo of each hiker and mails the photo along with a hiker written note home.  Last year the church fed over 800 hikers.

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Bill Van Horn- ATCC co-chair, Linda Harbuck- CoC Executive Director, Kristina Moe- ATCC co-chair, Olga Pader- ATCC member, Cindy Cavender- CoC Special Events coordinator and Marketing Director, Diane Baldwin- CoC Administrative Assistant, David Lippy- ATCC member.

AT Supporters Three Eagles

David Lippy- ATCC member,Olga Pader- ATCC member,  Jackie Kussow-Sroka- Three Eagles, Kristina Moe- ATCC co-chair, Kevin Kussow- Three Eagles, Bill Van Horn- ATCC co-chair.

Front row: Dave Lippy & Bill Van Horn- ATCC members
Back row: Patsy Parker- FBC breakfast organizer, Jack Jarrett- FBC associate pastor, Olga Pader-ATCC member & Nantahala Hiking Club president, Mary Beth Houston- FBC office administrator, Robert Brown- FBC pastor.

The A.T. Community Supporter Program is offered by the Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC) as part of its A.T. Community Program.  The Community Supporter Program highlights non-profits, organizations, and businesses that provide support to the hiking community, the Appalachian Trail and/or the ATC by recognizing participating entities as “A.T. Community Supporters.”  Once designated the “Supporter” is recognized with a window decal, certificate and highlighted on the ATC web site.