Sweat poured as the chainsaw buzzed loudly in the woods that separate American Legion Post 42 and AL!VE. Jim Herrin, along with a host of volunteers, was clearing a path in the early August heat that will eventually connect with the walking trail, EXPLORE, at AL!VE.
Wanting to create something for the community that showed a different side of the American Legion Post in Charlotte, the 1.1-mile walking trail will officially open Oct. 1 with a 5K Volksmarch (people’s walk).
“The American Legion donated the land for the trails and put up the seed money to get started,” said Herrin, a member of Post 42. “Everything we’ve done has been with volunteers and through donations.”
Herrin said 60 percent of the trails are covered with wood chips and can be easily navigated. The trail runs north of the two baseball fields that reside on the west side of the American Legion’s property and extends north to Foote Street and west to Wheaton Road. The trail continues on the east side of the Legion, where it will eventually be connected with the trail at AL!VE.
Laurie Newland, Grow Manager at AL!VE, said they jumped at the chance to partner with the American Legion when Herrin approached them with the idea this summer.
“We are very excited to partner will the American Legion on the trails,” Newland said. “It will benefit both organizations and get our community that much more active.”
Newland said the trails will connect near AL!VE’s community garden, HARVEST. From there it will connect with mowed trails that run along the west side of AL!VE’s property and connect to the 1/5 mile EXPLORE loop within PRESERVE. AL!VE also extended EXPLORE north to Foote Street (1/4 mile round trip) earlier this year through grants.
“We are thrilled to have our trails extend and blend with the American Legion trails now,” Newland said. “This gives us a longer path to plan future events and programs as well as have new grant money extend EXPLORE that much more into our back wooded lot.”
Both trail systems are open to community use. The official ribbon cutting and grand opening of the American Legion trail, however, is Oct. 1, from 8 to 11:30 a.m. The 5K Volksmarch is an untimed event and registration includes a prize, drink and hotdog. Herrin said there will also be fall-themed activities throughout the morning and free kids craft.
American Legion Post 42 is located at 1000 W. Lawrence in Charlotte. For more information, call (517) 543-1344.