Trail Blazers

Trail Club for High School Students to learn trail planning, building, maintenance, career options and hike together.


Leave No Trace Certification

LNT Certified: Zakk Heile

History: In January, Friends of the Valdese Rec started building a sustainable trail at Valdese Lakeside Park. Volunteers learned there was a big difference between existing deer trails and the techniques used to build a lasting trail. A sustainable trail has minimal impact to the natural area, does not adversely affect wildlife, manages water flow and requires little long-term maintenance.

With Draughn High School students joining the trail building workdays, Beth Heile, FVR president, started exploring ways to get trail building classes into Burke County Schools. The classes would provide students a skill relevant to our region and hopefully keep students in the county after graduation – either working on trails professionally or volunteering on trails. While starting the process of contacting people, schools closed, and the future is uncertain. School Board Member Wendi Craven was once contact who was interested in exploring the idea when school was back on track. While Heile,

Craven and DHS principal Shane Gardner were in a meeting regarding the Burke River Trail this week, they decided the best course of action for now is to start a trail building club under FVR’s guidance. In the future it may move into a school sponsored club or the curriculum used in a new or existing class.

The trail club will include

  • Classroom work – sustainable trail layout, construction, and maintenance – using the book “Trail Solutions” as a guide
  • Field work – building and maintaining trails in the area
  • Following the Burke River Trail process from start to finish – learning to get trail easements from property owners, meeting with officials to plan the trail corridor, laying out trail, building and beyond
  • Hearing from speakers in trail related fields –planners with government agencies and private firms, botanists, trail building companies, GIS map specialists
  • Field trips – go hiking together on area trails to see and discuss methods used

The Trails Blazers Club is open to any high school student in Burke County. The club will meet every other week. The dates and topics will depend on work available, speakers available, meetings needed to attend and weather. There is no cost.

Meeting Summaries

June 30 Valdese Lakeside Park – Intro to Sustainable Trails – Reed, Zakk, Jake, Nathan

July 7 Fonta Flora County Park – Speaker Shane Prisby, Community Development Operations Manager for Burke County – Reed, Zakk, Nathan, Addison, Kathryn

July 9 Valdese Lakeside Park – Flag New Trail – Zakk, Addison

July 14  Trail Expert Tim Johnson walked and talked at WPCC Mountain Bike Trail – Reed, Zakk, Jake, Nathan, Kathryn

July 29 10 am Zoom Meeting  about Burke River Trail, hosted by WPCOG – Reed, Zakk

July 30 1 pm at Rock Creek Trail – Brittany Watkins with Foothills Conservancy – maintenance work, hike, learning – Zakk, Reed, Jake

Aug 1 Valdese Lakeside Park Workday with FVR – Addison, Kat

Aug 5 Valdese Lakeside Park Workday – Addison, Kat, Jake, Zakk, Reed

Aug 8 Catawba River Cleanup by Boat with FVR – Zakk, Addison, Kat

Aug 13 Valdese Lakeside Park Workday – Zakk, Jake, Nathan, Reed, Addison,

August 19 – 9am Zoom Meeting hosted by COG about Burke River Trail, Reed, Zakk

Sept 2 – at VLP to clear Hoyle Creek debris – Reed, Addison, Zakk

Sept 5 – Valdese Lakeside Park Workday with FVR – Zakk

Sept 23 9 am Rock Creek with FCNC Zakk, Jake, Reed, Addison

Oct 21 1 pm VLP Zakk, Reed, Nathan

Nov 11 Canceled for Rain

Dec 8 5 pm VLP Cove Cleanup, Addison, Reed

Dec 21 1 pm Doug Knight, McGalliard Falls – Addison, Zakk, Kat

Dec 26 1 pm McGalliard Falls – Zakk, Reed