Last Updated on August 14, 2023 3:41 pm
On Friday, August 4, Blue Ridge Conservancy (BRC) held a groundbreaking at the site of the new Paddy Mountain Park trail in West Jefferson as part of Year of the Trail NC Trail Days. The park will feature three miles of stacked loop trail as well as parking, restrooms, and picnic facilities. The park will serve as a trailhead for the Northern Peaks State Trail (NPST), which will connect the Jeffersons to Boone. BRC, who facilitated the purchase of the property, is coordinating the construction of the NPST in partnership with state and local government agencies.
Speakers at the event included North Carolina Deputy Secretary for Natural Resources Jeff Michael, North Carolina Representative Ray Pickett, West Jefferson Mayor Tom Hartman, and Ashe County Commissioner Chuck Olive, who have all been instrumental to the project.
Leading the groundbreaking was NPST Coordinator Jordan Sellers, who thanked local businesses, residents, and elected officials for their unwavering support of the project.
“If you came up with a dream conservation story, Paddy Mountain would be it. Ecological, scenic, and recreational value all rolled into one project. The acquisition of the property was the result of an adventurous seven-year pursuit by BRC and culminated with the inspiring, community-wide effort to purchase and protect the property for ever and for everyone,” says Sellers. “The groundbreaking of the trails came quickly, which was possible due to the highly collaborative nature of the folks in West Jefferson and Ashe County and the support of the North Carolina legislators. This is just the beginning of the story, as the Northern Peaks State Trail continues to grow to the north and south of Paddy Mountain.”
West Jefferson Town Manager Brantley Price echoed excitement for the project and looked forward to what the park and trail will mean to the community: “What a day to see Paddy Mountain set as a hub for the NPST and as the beautiful backdrop to Downtown West Jefferson that will never be disturbed. The trails on Paddy are going to be a great addition and attraction to our downtown, as outdoor recreation plays such a vital role for our area. Thanks to Emmett Cox, the Herb Francis estate, and BRC for making Paddy Mountain a reality.”
The Paddy Mountain Park trails project was made possible by a Recreational Trails Program grant, which is administered by NC State Parks, and a direct appropriation from the NC General Assembly. BRC and West Jefferson are pursuing a NC Parks and Rec Trust Fund grant to continue funding the park.