It’s been an exciting year for the Haw River Trail in Saxapahaw. We’re excited to announce that we are working on a new park, the Saxapahaw Island Park, which will also be part of the Haw River Trail network. There are a lot of pieces that will fit together to make this park a reality: In 2016, the HRT was awarded an $84,000 grant from the Recreational Trails Program to develop a loop trail and trailhead on the Island, as well as HRT trail extensions to the north and south of the Island. Thanks to acreage and an easement donated by Waste Industries and the Clore family, respectively, the Island will enjoy almost 2 miles of trail. This loop will connect to new planned Haw River Trail to the north of the Island, and to the existing and soon-to-be extended Trail section to the south across the river. In addition to the hiking loop and trailhead, the new Saxapahaw Island Park will have an open formal gathering space that has been cleared by goat grazing; an informal gathering space that will contain a boardwalk and seating; a waterfront area with a deck overlooking the Haw River; and a nature play area. The gathering spaces and waterfront area are supported by community involvement and funds from Alamance Parks. The official site plan, hand drawn and painted by artist Dr. Elizabeth Bradshaw, shows our vision for the Island Park (click the map below for a close up look at the plan). We are happy to announce we have also received a $100,000 grant from Impact Alamance to fund the nature play area. One of Impact Alamance’s primary objectives is to improve access to and quality of built play environments in our community. Currently, planned features include a central play structure shaped like a Bowfin fish that will offer multiple play elements; swings; a spider-web rope climber; outdoor musical play; a water sluice; a climbing wall; a fort building area; and balance beams connecting these play nodes. Each play feature will help children connect with and learn about natural elements of the Haw River ecosystem, with interpretive signage for each play node. If you are interested in learning more about the benefits of nature play, you can explore the Natural Learning Initiative’s website. We also have exciting news for expansion of the trail south of the Island. The HRT recently received a generous donation from Buckner Companies in the form a beautiful new bridge that will allow extension of the trail past a previously unnavigable ravine, connecting existing trail to the new planned extension. Between the Island loop and the north/south extensions, the new trail developments will bring almost 4 miles of additional HRT to the Saxapahaw area. If you are interested in volunteering to help build trail, maintain trail, or work with the community group involved with the Island Park elements, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. As with the trails and trailhead, construction and installation for the play area will begin this winter. We tentatively look forward to a grand opening of the Saxapahaw Island Park in June 2017. A big thanks to the Recreational Trails Program, Impact Alamance, Alamance Parks, and Buckner Steel for their contributions to supporting the HRT in Saxapahaw, as well as to community members and local businesses whose support of HRT events has helped raise additional funds for this exciting new park.