WCU trail system officially opens

Josh Whitmore and Chancellor Belcher at ribbon cutting of trail, Photo by William Buddenberg

Western Carolina University hosted a grand opening celebration of the new WCU trail system Saturday, Feb. 23. There was a great turnout to enjoy the advent of this addition to the university, despite the overcast day. A group ride was held, there were bike clinics, free food and live music.

The trail system consists of 6.7 miles of single-track trail designed for mountain biking, trail running and hiking. There are two main entrances to the trail: one accessed through the tunnel behind the softball field at the NCCAT building and the other behind the Health and Human Sciences building on Little Savannah Road.

“I am excited to see the community and future students have access to mountain biking trails within close proximity,” said Nick Bragg, WCU Cycling Team president.

Group ride on opening day, Photo by William Buddenberg

The proximity of the trails gives students and faculty the ability to ride in between classes and organize weekly group rides. The WCU Cycling Team has plans to start a weekly Thursday mountain bike ride on the new trails after the time change to augment the existing Tuesday night Motion Makers road bike ride and recreational Wednesday “Whee Ride”.

“The new WCU trails provide a great opportunity for both the students and the public,” said Nick Lacombe, WCU Cycling Team vice-president. “Now I can ride my mountain bike on campus after classes instead of driving at least 30 minutes to one of the surrounding trail systems.”


Group hikes along entrance to new trail, Photo by William Buddenberg

The WCU trail system was the brainchild of Josh Whitmore, associate director of outdoor programs at WCU. The trail system has been in development for several years in terms of planning, but the actual construction of the trail took about one year. It was a collaborative effort between volunteer labor and a professional trail builder. A grant of $75,000 from the North Carolina Division of Parks and Recreation’s Recreational Trails Program and a $5,000 award from Specialized Bicycles helped in the creation of the trail system. Blue Cross & Blue Shield gave Western Carolina University a $14,440 grant that funded the development in the planning stages of the project.


To see a map of the trail system, follow this link. There is also a full-screen map available here. Below is a slideshow of pictures from the grand opening. All photos were taken by William Buddenberg, a student at Western Carolina University.