By Joy Warren
Friends of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail were in Bladen County Tuesday evening for a public forum at the White Lake Town Hall. Friends created the trail as a way for people who are hiking across North Carolina to explore some of the most special places in the Coastal Plain. The group is seeking ideas for how to make the route even more enjoyable and interesting – by making sure travelers see interesting spots, by moving parts of the trail that are on roads to trail, and by identifying camping and lodging spots.
Kip Godwin, Project Coordinator, gave a brief project overview and shared information and maps of the Coastal Crescent Trail. The public had an opportunity to view the maps and give their ideas for spots of interest.
The Coastal Crescent Trail is a new hiking route developed by Friends to help people explore North Carolina’s “Cape Fear Arch”, recognized as one of the most biologically diverse areas in the US. The trail provides a guided way for hikers to explore communities and natural and and historic sites in Johnston, Sampson, Cumberland, Bladen, Pender and Onslow counties.
Highlights of Bladen County include:
*Carolina bays at Suggs Mill Pond Game Land, Jones Lake State Park, the town of White Lake, and Singletary Lake State Park
*Harmony Hall Plantation, one of the oldest residences in North Carolina, built before the Revolutionary War
*Jones Lake State Park with its beautiful bay forest ecosystem
*Interpretive signs at Turnbull Creek Educational State Forest about the ecology and history of the area
*The town of White Lake, a resort community where visitors can take a break to swim and sun or play putt-putt and ride a ferris wheel!
*Interpretive signs at Singletary Lake State Park exploring some of the theories of the origins of the Carolina Bays
Godwin told those in attendance that the trail “will become a resource that benefits local communities by providing places for people to enjoy and learn about the natural world; positive economic impact through spending on lodging, supplies, food and activities by people who travel to the area to hike the trail; and a source of community pride by highlighting many of the special natural and cultural features that will lead others to want to visit.”
For more information and a look at the trail maps go to www.ncmst.org .