Plans unveiled for a new connector trail in WNC

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Deena C. Bouknight – Contributing Writer

Last week, the public had an opportunity to view plans for a new trail – part of which will be located in the Highlands area of Macon County. The Blue Ridge Community Connector (BRCC) is a proposed hiking route to connect the communities of Cashiers, Highlands, and Clayton, Ga., through a regional trail system. At the Highlands Recreation Center on Feb. 28, the project’s Boone, N.C.-based planning firm, Destination by Design, presented maps and was available to answer questions. 

The Highlands Plateau Greenway was responsible for contacting Destination by Design to come up with a trail system that will include four proposed sections: from the Village Green in Cashiers to the Kelsey Hutchinson Founders Park in Highlands; from Kelsey Hutchinson Founders Park to Hale Ridge Road in Georgia; from Hale Ridge Road to Wilson Gap in Georgia; and, from Wilson Gap to Stekoa Creek Park in Clayton, Ga.

Destination by Design informed that the plan was developed with the minimization of environmental impact in mind. The trail will use existing infrastructure, such as the Highlands Plateau Greenway, sidewalks, paved roads, gravel roads, U.S. Forest Service, and natural surface trails. In fact, the proposed trail involves using approximately 37 miles of existing trails and eight miles of proposed trail.

Cost projection is estimated at $2.5 million. Destination by Design gathered feedback that the firm will use to create a master plan for the trail. Feedback will be accepted by email to Tim Johnson, director of outdoor recreation planning at Destination by Design, tim@dbdplanning.com, until the end of March. 

The project could take five to 15 years to complete, depending on funds donated and raised. 

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