How time flies!
In 2009, the Greers Ferry Lake Trails Council was formed with the mission: “To plan, build, operate and maintain multi-use trails in the Greers Ferry Lake area which promote fitness and enhance transportation, the local economy and community relations”. There were several previous failed attempts to establish a trail system along Sulphur Creek using the M&NA abandoned railroad right of way but this new grassroots effort soon gained traction as locals realized the benefits and importance of this amenity. The council became a 501(c) 3, non-profit and subsequently formed a masterplan (which is evolving), acquired some easements (at no cost) and landed a few grants to construct trail in key places. Although these existing trails appear to have no connection, they will soon become part of a meandering, beautiful trail for walking, running and cycling. The system will connect many landmarks, industrial areas, schools, recreational areas, downtown, historic, natural and wildlife areas. There will be a spur trail to Bridal Veil Falls as well as Sandy Beach. A pavilion with restrooms, tables and a kiosk will be located about midway on the main trail just to the east of South 7th St near the Forestry Commission office. Some surface streets associated with the system will have “Share the Road” signage and striping to create awareness for motorist and improve safety for cyclist.
Thanks to local voters, funding to complete the trail system was approved in March of 2021. CWB Engineering is now heading up the project and construction has already begun on the section between South 4th and South 7th. In addition, the 80-foot long pedestrian bridge at Sulphur Creek (about .8 miles east of Bittle Road) is under construction thanks to an 80/20 matching grant from ArDOT (Arkansas Department of Transportation). Surveying and final trail alignment is now the next milestone and should be completed very soon. The asphalt trail section from South 11th (just south of Scott St) to the new bridge will be completed this Summer which will, with the use of Scott Street (So 11th to So 7th) connect the trail from South Broadway to just beyond Bittle road near the County Fairgrounds.
The next milestone will be to cross under South 7th and the bypass using existing bridges. As you can imagine, permits are required from ArDOT to make this happen.
In 2021, the GFLTC board took the local NICA competitive mountain bike team, the Sugarloaf Shredders, under their wing and has helped, in part, construct the new single track MTB Vanguard Trail around the base of Sugarloaf Mountain. Thanks to ASU – Heber Springs and the Sugarloaf Heritage Council, this is a great practice trail for the 6-12th grade team to practice and may possibly host a ArkansasMTB chapter MTB race event.
The annual Ride Like a Mountain Man road bike ride, sponsored by GFLTC will continue to be an annual tradition with the hopes of raising funds for ongoing trail maintenance.
I wish to thank the board members, the many volunteers, the mayor and city departments, a lot of local businesses, Cleburne County and most of all, the local citizens for catching the vision and making this showcase trail system investment (which has a finite return on investment) a soon reality.
Frank Wimberley – GFLTC President