We had a great turnout at the Ribbon Cutting Ceremony for the Hidden Pond Trail completion.
We also have the full article from The Sun Times
By Heath Higgs
December 03. 2015 12:47PM
Another Leg on the Journey
The Sugarloaf Heritage Council marked the completion of the Hidden Pond Trail at a ribbon-cutting ceremony Tuesday at the base of Sugarloaf Mountain in Heber Springs.
The quarter-mile trail provides access to a remote, scenic pond near the base of the mountain. The trail includes a 90-foot wooden bridge and was recently partially paved with asphalt to improve its accessibility.
“This has always been a very beautiful trail, but now, because of this strip of asphalt, it’s not only beautiful, but it’s accessible for those with mobility impairments,” said Michael Wagner, a member of the Greers Ferry Lake Trail Council who uses a wheelchair. “For folks like myself who don’t get around that well, getting out in the woods poses all kinds of obstacles, but it’s great therapy.”
Construction on the trail was partially funded by a “Trails for Life” grant from the Arkansas Department of Parks & Tourism, as well as through donations from local businesses and individuals. Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Quitman Ward and council board members dedicated many hours of volunteer labor to clear and construct the trail.
The Sugarloaf Heritage Council was created in 2007 when Frank Barton was hiking to the summit with his 4-year-old son and the boy asked him to read aloud a vulgar graffiti inscription on a rock. Barton was inspired to do something about vandalism on the mountain and contacted friends and representatives from ASU-Heber Springs to take action. While working on the graffiti issue, the group noticed the deteriorating state of the summit trail and decided to make its restoration the next order of business.
As the council developed its master plan in 2009, Joe Rath, a founding member and president at the time, proposed adding a new trail to a “Hidden Pond” he discovered one day while walking his dog near the mountain. The master plan also includes the now-complete 1.3 mile Tonawanda Base Trail around the mountain and a proposed Wildlife Trail.
“It’s about promoting healthier lifestyles and retaining the beauty of nature,” said Mark Johnson, secretary of the Sugarloaf Heritage Council.
The Sugarloaf trail improvements come as a part of a citywide effort to enhance walkability and bike safety in the area.
Frank Wimberley, founder of the Greers Ferry Lake Trail Council, says his group plans to build and maintain a separate, 10-mile trail system across Heber Springs that will eventually connect to the Sugarloaf trails.
“It’s a trend across the country really, and we’re kind of behind on the trend to be honest. Statistics show you that the economy, fitness level, the quality of life, all improves when you have an urban trail system like we’re putting in here,” said Wimberley.