Forging new paths | Academic and student news

As undergraduates at NC State, Tommy Holden (Biosciences / Business Administration ’95) and Kristian Jackson (Writing and Editing ’94) spent much of their time biking in the fields of kudzu and up and down the steep sea walls around Raleigh Lake. While much of this area has since turned into a centennial campus, Lake Raleigh Woods is still home to a wide variety of plants and wildlife, as well as a growing network of hiking and biking trails.

In recent years, Holden and Jackson, along with other members of the university, have worked to develop these trails by establishing a trailhead, clearing and deviating trails for hiking and biking, installing signage and more as part of Raleigh Lake Plan of Woodland Trail.

“There are already a lot of trails here, but they’re not very well labeled,” Holden said. “For people who are coming here for the first time, it is quite difficult to navigate, so we hope to improve the general awareness and signage of the various trails and their use so that people know what is going on here and can take advantage of it. “

Tommy Holden leans against a small tree in the woods of Raleigh Lake as he works on a bike path diversion project.

The project recently received a significant financial boost when the Department of Health and Exercise Studies (HES), for which Holden is now a teaching professor, received a grant of $ 45,800 from the NC State University Sustainability Fund. in support of the project. The grant enables the next steps in an ongoing collaboration with HES and Wellness and Recreation, as well as other campus partners, to plan, design and create mountain biking and hiking trails for use by the ‘State of North Carolina and surrounding communities. Several years ago, Wellness Recreation received a grant from the Sustainability Fund which paid for the design portion of the project. After the pandemic delayed a first start, HES funded the development of the first mountain bike trail in the spring and summer.

As one of the nine “sacred places” in the state of North Carolina, Lake Raleigh Woods spans 96 acres and is located on the Centennial Campus of the state of North Carolina, south and south. west of Raleigh Lake. It is already in use for several outdoor education classes and is an increasingly popular destination for hiking, biking, dog walking, fishing and geocaching.

“This is a multi-purpose space that will benefit the entire state of North Carolina and the community around the state of North Carolina, and we are so grateful to see the project move forward,” said Beth Wright Fath, head of department and teaching professor for HES. “Specifically for our department, it gives us additional spaces where we can give academic lessons and where students can go to connect with nature or even do their homework. It is also special for the large community of Raleigh. Raleigh is very committed to green spaces and helps its residents stay active, even though we are in an urban setting.

A sign at the trailhead for Lake Raleigh Woods, next to the college on the Centennial campus
A sign at the trailhead for Lake Raleigh Woods, next to the college on the Centennial campus

Jackson was instrumental in the planning and execution of the Lake Raleigh Woods trail plan. He teaches recreation management at Appalachian State University and is a professional trail builder. Since 2010 he has been the Trail Manager for Rocky Knob Trail near Boone, NC, coordinating volunteers and overseeing trail maintenance.

“When Tommy first called me about this project, it was really special to think about taking all the training and education that I have gathered from over 20 years of mountain biking and of trails and back to where I started mountain biking and being able to give back, ”Jackson said. “It’s exciting to create something new and intentional that future generations can use and where they can be inspired to ride a bike, be in nature and be part of a community like we did. . “

Kristian Jackson in Lake Raleigh Woods helping redirect a bike path
Kristian Jackson in Lake Raleigh Woods helping redirect a bike path

Another key contributor to the project was Scott Schneider, Senior Lecturer for HES, who helped draft the NC State Sustainability Fund grant proposal.

“I really appreciate the support from the Sustainability Fund to help make the Lake Raleigh Woods Trail Project a reality,” he said. “This is an exciting project that has a rich and diverse history of support from individuals from the College of Natural Resources, Welfare and Recreation, the Office of Sustainability and the Department of Environmental Studies. health and exercise. It is one of those projects that will have a long and lasting impact on North Carolina State students and the community at large. On a personal level, I can’t wait to share the trails with my future backpacking, trail running and orientation students!

If you would like to provide financial support for the development of the Lake Raleigh Woods Trail Plan, please donate to the Health and Exercise Studies Improvement Fund. Holden is also looking for volunteers to help develop the trail further and has created an Instagram account (@LakeRaleighWoods) to help with recruiting, track progress, and more easily disseminate information to the surrounding community. Anyone interested in volunteering can also contact Holden personally at [email protected]

A satellite view of the area where new hiking and biking trails are being established in Raleigh Woods Lake
A satellite view of the area where new hiking and biking trails are being established in Raleigh Woods Lake

History of the Woods of Raleigh Lake

The history of the Raleigh Lake area can be traced in written records to the late 1700s, when Colonel Theophilus Hunter developed the Spring Hill plantation. From the mid-1800s to the early 1900s, the City of Raleigh acquired the land including Spring Hill and other surrounding farmland to develop a public hospital. An earthen dam and the Bain water treatment plant were built along Walnut Creek in 1900 to form Raleigh Lake, which was filled in 1914. The use of agricultural land around the lake and the Residential development north of the lake took place throughout the 1900s. More recently, the development of the NC State Centennial Campus has allowed the area to continuously evolve.

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