Base Camp Cullowhee opens new trail system at WCU

The picnic area of Western Carolina University catered to a grand opening of the trail system from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Feb. 23. Saturday was filled with a variety of events including a guided hike or mountain bike ride, an adaptive sports and adventures presentation, live music, free food, prizes, games, and a ribbon-cutting ceremony.

Western Carolina University’s trail system was built with support from a $75,000 grant from the North Carolina Division of Parks and Recreation’s Recreational Trails Program, along with a $5,000 award from Specialized Bicycle Components. A $14,440 grant from Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina Foundation in 2009 funded initial development of a master plan for the project.

Robbie Parks, a regional manager and a volunteer for Adaptive Sports Adventures Programs (ASAP), spoke about their mission to provide competitive and recreational adaptive sport opportunities for individuals with physical disabilities. During ASAP’s presentation, they had rugby wheelchairs and hand cycles or tandem bikes on display.

 “The reason you won’t is because you say you can’t,” said Parks.

At 12:30 Base Camp Cullowhee led a group onto the trail to either hike or bike along the newly prepared path.

Matt Harshman, a senior in parks and recreation management, said the construction of the approximately 7-miles of trail began in April of 2012.

 “Matt shaped the trail, but the trail shaped him into the man he is today,” said Ed Tierney, WCU junior and a natural resource and conservation management major.

The trail is connected to academic programs, which include parks and recreation management, natural resource and conservation management, and recreational therapy. Many who volunteered in the creation of the trail system had a major that had to do with the outdoors.

The trail system can be accessed at two areas: the parking lot of Western Carolina University’s new Health and Human Sciences Building on Little Savannah Road or the pedestrian tunnel under Highway 107 near the softball field.

After hiking the trail, the funk jam mountain band “Local” performed at 3:30 p.m.  Free food, games and prizes also took place during that time. The ribbon-cutting ceremony was held at 4 p.m., which was attended by Chancellor David O. Belcher.

For a map of the trail system, go to Base Camp Cullowhee’s website at and click on “WCU Trail System Info.”

Carolinas Rehabilitation or ASAP provides opportunities to participate in team sports such as: rugby, power soccer, water skiing, snow skiing, swimming, tennis, fishing, golf and biking. For more information on ASAP go to