While this information is not about a Va trail I know that many of you live
close to NC and ride the trails there as well. Please see the information
below about a new trail that is proposed down by New Bern. (close to the
beach) They are seeking comments until Apr 6. For a map of the National
Forest District click on this link
Horse trail could be ready by fall in Croatan National Forest
> Sue Book
March 31, 2009 - 8:08PM
HAVELOCK - The U.S. Forest Service's first equestrian trail in the Croatan
National Forest could be ready for riding this fall with a bicycle trail
soon to follow.
The 16-mile trail is planned for the Pinecliff Recreation area of the
southeastern Craven County part of the Croatan. It would parallel the
Neusiok Trail and cross it twice. The Forest Service will decide whether to
approve the horse trail after receiving a biological review and getting
Pinecliff is a Croatan Forest recreation area on the Neuse River off N.C.
101 and N.C 306 near the Cherry Branch Ferry landing. It now has walking
trails and a beach, picnic area, and public parking and toilets.
The riding trail and a parking lot for 20 trucks with horse trailers and 50
cars would be in the Cherry Branch community, where stables and horseback
riding areas are already visible from the roadway.
Those expected to use it, however, will come from all over the state and
country, said Dennis Foster, assistant forest ranger in charge of the
The first money for the trail is already in hand - a $71,000 grant from
the North Carolina Recreational Trails System which the U.S.D.A. Forest
Service will match, Foster said. "But we are short of funding for this and
we will be asked to show them that there would be use to justify it."
Comments supporting broad-based interest in the trail are beginning to pile
high, "all positive so far. Everybody likes the idea," Foster said. The
deadline for official comment is April 6.
"Trails are not very controversial," Foster said. "They are not big impact
projects like making a camp ground. Most people think they are good ways to
get people out to enjoy the ecosystem."
Foster identified key leaders in the effort including Dave Wright, a
retired recreation program manager for the Forest Service in North Carolina;
Amy Andrews of the Craven County Cooperative Extension Service, who
coordinated volunteers advocating for the trail; and Daryl McBain, a leader
in the state Recreation Trails Program.
He credited Wright for "his diligence in guiding the Croatan into the modern
age" and said his list was in no way all-inclusive: "The beauty of this
project is that there are so many people involved. It is really neat seeing
everybody get together."
Andrews, who leaves the Craven County Cooperative Extension Service this
week after eight years, rode the future trial on Monday with members of the
local group of BITS, Benefiting Intercoastal Trails Systems, an organization
dedicated to preserving and developing trails for equestrian use in Eastern
She said an estimate of potential trail use, using BITS members and those of
REINS, Regional Equine Information System, operating through N.C. State, is
an average of at least 30 riders a day. Even without a trail in place,
riders have used the area often, including for annual education trail rides
of more than 100 riders.
"The attraction is water, being along the shoreline," said Andrews. The
trail is close to the pinecliff bordering the Neuse River in some places
and, in places, follows Hancock Creek which separates the forest from the
Marine Corps Air Station at Cherry Point.
Andrews said that storms, like Hurricane Ophelia, have often moved the
cliffs back, so the Forest Service trail plan moves it back about 50 feet
"to be on the safe side."
The price tag for the project, including the parking lots with access to the
riding trail, Neusiok Trail, and a bike trail, is more than $250,000, Foster
He said preliminary biological and archeological surveys show no threatened
or endangered plant, animal, or aquatic species "that would be game
stoppers" for the trail through "one of the prettiest areas in the Croatan."
"It is an opportunity to see and experience the most visual areas of the
forest, with a pine plantation, a pine forest and a hardwood range," Foster
said. "I see it becoming a major attraction to the Croatan."
Comments should be directed to the Croatan District Ranger, Croatan National
Forest, 141 East Fisher Avenue, New Bern, NC 28560; (252) 638-5628 or fax
(252) 637-9113; or