Mebane Trail Rangers, a new group created to champion and raise awareness of the various hiking trails in Mebane, will hold their first public meeting at the Mebane Arts and Community Center on Thursday February 3 at 6:30 p.m. to gather feedback from the community. about ways to improve the city’s pathways.
Mebane has four sets of trails: those at Lake Michael, those at Cates Farm Park, the Downtown Urban Trails, and a segment of the North Carolina Mountains-to-Sea Trail (MST). The group hopes to improve and increase the use of these trails in various ways.
The group is under the umbrella of the Mebane Woman’s Club, operating as the Mebane on the Move club, but Mebane Trail Rangers is open to anyone interested and encouraged to join, said Sherri Seagroves, founder and member of the group.
“We’re looking for people who are not just interested in trails, but also people in the birding community, we’re looking for people who are interested in plants, naturalists,” Seagroves said. “It’s not just about hiking, it’s about learning more about what’s here in Mebane and promoting all the trails here.”
A big motivation in creating Mebane Trail Rangers is the fact that the MST runs right through Clay Street. The MST, which celebrates its 45th anniversary in 2022, spans a length of 1,175 miles from North Carolina, from the Great Smoky Mountains in the west to the Outer Banks in the east.
The trail is divided into 18 segments. Mebane is in segment 9 – titled Revolution & Textiles – which begins at Bryan Park in Greensboro and ends at Eno River State Park in Durham. There are only two towns through which Segment 9 passes, and Mebane is the only one in Alamance County.
Recently an alternate route, which bypasses Mebane entirely, has been added, running south from Haw River along the Haw River to Saxapahaw before returning northeast to US-70 towards Hillsborough . Which route to take will be the hiker’s choice but the Mebane Trail The rangers aren’t too concerned about it deterring too many hikers, as it adds about 35 miles to the hike.
Seagroves served as a liaison between the town of Mebane and the MST. After November, MST Trail Resource Manager Jim Grode met with Seagroves and gave him four tasks to kick off Mebane’s involvement with the MST.
The first task was to create a Trail Angels program, Seagroves said. “Trail angels is where you can help a passing hiker, they’ll usually text you a day or two before,” she noted. “They have access to a private site that lists trail angels in trail communities, and you can volunteer at all levels.”
Trail Angels can provide hikers with accommodation, showers, meals, laundry services, shuttles and local advice. So far three families, including that of Seagroves, have signed up to be trail angels in Mebane.
“As there are no campsites in Mebane, it’s a great community to restock on food, wash clothes and maybe take a day off, called zero days, when they’re not doing hiking,” Seagroves said.
The second task for the Mebane Trail Rangers was to lay out a signage plan, probably consisting of three signs for the Mebane portion of the MST, to inform people of the route of the trail through the downtown area of the city.
Once the plan is created, Seagroves said, it will be handed over to Mebane town planning staff, the Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Commission (BPAC) and, ultimately, the town council for road sign approval. of the city – in this case. , Clay Street. The MST will handle the signage of state-controlled roads.
The group’s third task was to work with a group of mentors, one doing similar work to the Mebane Trail Rangers. The group met with the Elkin Valley Trail Association and hiked their trails, which caused them to rethink their entire plan, Seagroves said.
“The first recommendation they had was that you need to think bigger than the MST, you need to think about all the hiking trails in your community,” she said. “So that’s what we did. We backed off and really started thinking OK, what other trails were we going to work with? And that’s Cate’s Farm, Lake Michael, Urban Trails, and the MST.
The creation of Mebane Trail Rangers as a designated group also stemmed from the meeting of the founding members, as the Elkin Valley Trail Association recommended to create the group, create a group website and social media accounts, and gather as many members as possible.
The final task assigned by the MST was to establish partnerships with city, county and state governments, which is what the Trail Rangers are working on.
After receiving recommendations from MST and the Elkin Valley Trail Association, the group was formed and many preliminary meetings were held defining what the six areas of focus for the Mebane Trail Ranger will be.
These areas are: one, capitalizing on the MST that runs through Mebane; second, to develop interest in all the trails of Mebane; third, to provide more educational opportunities such as hiking lessons, nature observations, etc. four, maintain and clean the trails regularly; five, add the possibility of various exercise activities on the trails; and six, have fun organizing events and challenges along the city’s trails.
The group hopes to set things in motion in 2022, when House Bill 554, passed in August, designated 2023 as “North Carolina’s Year of the Trail.”
“We think 2022 will be our year of building, our year of coming together so that we can organize events and fun things for 2023 and really participate in the year of the trail and bring people to Mebane to walk these trails to help with economic development,” Seagroves said.
After Tuesday’s meeting, the Mebane Trail Rangers will meet monthly, always on the first Thursday of each month at 6:30 p.m. In February, March and April, the meetings will be held inside the MACC; during the summer months, the meeting will be held at Lake Michael Park. NC District 63 Representative Ricky Hurtado, a sponsor of HB 554, will speak at the March meeting.
More information about Mebane Trail Rangers can be found on their Facebook page – https://www.facebook.com/mebanetrailrangers – and by emailing [email protected]