MORRISTOWN – Students, citizens and local officials helped christen the first section of the Walters State Hiking and Biking Trail during a ribbon-cutting ceremony Thursday, November 2. Walters State President Dr. Tony Miksa said work is underway to expand the trail to as long as seven miles.
“This trail is for everyone to use and enjoy,” Miksa said after leading two tours of the trail—one on mountain bikes and one for hikers. “Our desire is to promote fitness and healthy living, and to just get people outside where they can enjoy nature and get some exercise and have fun.”
Through a cooperative effort between the college, Five Rivers Mountain Bike Club and Panther Creek Bike Shop, work began early this year to create the nearly 1-mile loop in the wooded property adjacent to the college’s public safety facilities. Miksa expressed appreciation for those organizations, college staff and volunteers who donated time, equipment and labor for cutting the trail.
An avid hiker and mountain biker, Miksa said bike club volunteers and others are working to extend the project to eventually include 7-8 miles of challenging trails.
The trail and future expansion area is located in wooded property directly across U.S. Highway 25E from the college’s Morristown Campus.
“The trail will eventually extend from 5 to 7 miles,” Miksa said. “We plan for it to grow and be used for educational walks as well as exercise.”
He said plans are to host 5K foot races on the trail as well as organized mountain biking events. Area schools will be encouraged to utilize the trail for training, field trips and other activities.
Trail users, during regular business hours, are encouraged to park in student parking areas of the main campus, and anywhere a spot is open after 5 p.m. The trail is easy to access from campus parking using the sidewalk over U.S. 25E and entering the property to the right a few feet beyond the bridge. From there, the trailhead can be seen across the open field to the right where safety rules are posted at the edge of the woods.
Miksa encouraged users to be mindful of safety. It’s always best to pair up with another trail user, he said, and to always let someone know you are on the trail when hiking or biking alone.
“Safety is the most important thing,” Miksa said. “Wear a helmet and bring a phone. Be aware of mile markers posted along the trail and call campus security at (423) 585-6752 if help is needed.”