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Friends of DuPont celebrating new hiking trail

Rangers, trail builders and supporters of DuPont State Recreational Forest will open the High Falls Trail extension with a ribbon-cutting ceremony Saturday.

Trail volunteers will gather at 10 a.m. at the High Falls access area on Staton Road in the forest to open the extension and recognize the many supporters who help to maintain the forest's trails. Supporting groups include Friends of DuPont Forest, Pisgah Trail Blazers and Southern Off Road Bicycle Association (SORBA).

Todd Branham with Long Cane Trails LLC will also be recognized for the company's work on the High Falls Trail extension. The $44,000 contract, completed in May, included at 1.4-mile extension of Turkey Knob Trail to connect with Briery Fork Trail. Other improvements included a reroute on Grassy Creek Trail and a reroute on Grassy Meadow Trail.

Woody Keen with Trail Wisdom, a trail consultation company, led a SORBA trail workday in May to make additional improvements to the upper end of Grassy Creek Trail. The DuPont Forest staff has worked to improve drainage on Joanna Road in the same area of the forest.

"It takes everyone working together to maintain trails to prevent erosion and make them safe for visitors," forest supervisor David Brown said in a news release. "We are fortunate to have so many dedicated volunteers from many user groups pitching in to maintain our trails."

DuPont has 83 miles of roads and trails open to the public. All but one mile are multi-use trails used by hikers, mountain bikers, dog walkers and equestrians. Over the past eight years, more than $260,000 has been spent on trail improvements. Friends of DuPont Forest has funded 75 percent of the trail work. The rest was paid for through a combination of Recreational Trail Program grants, donated services and N.C. Forest Service funds.

More than 25 miles of trails have been reconstructed or repaired since 2005. Thousands of feet of additional trail have been improved by various volunteer groups cutting back vegetation and doing minor drainage work.