Monday, December 5, 2011
Start of DRBA’s Tenth Year Celebration
The Dan River Basin Association (DRBA) will begin its Tenth Year Celebration with a January 7 hike on the Fieldale Trail beside the Smith River in Fieldale, Virginia. Participants will meet at 10:00 a.m. at the Fieldale Park (GPS 36.700615,-79.934185) near the site of the old Fieldale Iron Bridge for an out-and-back stroll coordinated by Friends of the Fieldale Trail volunteers.
Hikers may choose to walk a distance of from 1 ½ to 6 miles, since two sections comprise the trail—a 1.5-mile Upper Fieldale Trail from Fieldale Park to the original trailhead, and a 1.5-mile Lower Fieldale Trail downstream from the trailhead. Both segments are flat and easy to walk. Walking the entire distance out and back gives a total of six miles.
The Fieldale Trail offers "a golden opportunity to see Mother Nature up close and personal right in our own backyard," according to Adopt-a-Trail volunteers Charles and Pat Dameron. Tommy Wyatt, a leader of DRBA’s Friends of the Fieldale Trail, adds, “The trail is a great place to meet people from the community. Families, children, elderly people, bicyclists, and even people training for marathons use the trail as part of their daily activities.”
Hugging the bank of the Smith River, the graveled Upper Fieldale Trail winds through woods and open fields frequented by a variety of birds to the trailhead at the Fieldale Canoe Access, where a restroom is available. From there, the natural-surface Lower Fieldale Trail enters the riverside forest and skirts rhododendron bluffs alongside the river to its downstream terminus. Towering sycamore trees shelter the trail, and gravel bars and rock formations in the streambed give voice to the river.
Envisioned at a 2005 planning session of DRBA’s Martinsville-Henry County affiliate, the Fieldale Trial is part of the proposed 45-mile Smith River Trail System from Philpott Dam to the river’s confluence with the Dan River at Eden, NC, as well as the Beaches to Bluegrass Trail across Southern Virginia.
One mile of the Upper Fieldale Trail opened in July, 2007 and the Lower Fieldale Trail was dedicated in March, 2009. Built with both public and private support, the trail is operated by Henry County Parks & Recreation.
A special attraction is a section of the 1931 Fieldale Iron Bridge that carried traffic across the Smith River for nearly 70 years. When the bridge was replaced in 2009, present and former residents and friends of Fieldale from all over the United States contributed funds, time, and materials to save trusses of the landmark structure. The 54-foot portion of the historic bridge now proudly serves as nearby trail art.
Construction of the Textile Heritage Trail, an extension of the Upper Fieldale Trail, is currently underway. The loop trail will feature interpretive signs celebrating the textile heritage on which the town of Fieldale was based. Brian Williams, DRBA’s Program Manager, notes that “a hard-packed gravel surface and boardwalk will make this entire trail handicapped accessible.”
Jennifer Doss, Director of Tourism, says, “The Martinsville-Henry County Economic Development Corporation is pleased to work in partnership with DRBA to construct the Textile Heritage Trail. Part of our Deep Roots Legacy, this project ties together the wonderful natural resources that our community has to offer, along with its rich heritage of textiles.”
Participants in the hike should meet at 10:00 a.m. at Fieldale Park, 188 Field Avenue, at the intersection of Field Avenue and South River Road. Bring lunch, water and a hiking stick; wear comfortable shoes or hiking boots; dress in layers of water-shedding artificial fabric or wool; and be prepared for rain or wind. All participants will be asked to sign a waiver form.
Directions: From US 220 take the VA 609 exit towards Fieldale. Turn right at Dillon’s Fork Road, continue on Virginia Avenue, continue on Patrick Avenue, turn right at Field Avenue. Turn right at South River Road, and immediately turn right into the parking lot of the Fieldale Park.
Outings and meetings of the Dan River Basin Association are open to the public without charge.
For more information, contact Trip Coordinator Paula Wyatt at 276-647-3274 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
For membership information, visit http://www.danriver.org/.