By Sonya Carpenter
For over fifteen years the volunteers of the Highlands Plateau Greenway (HPG) have been working to construct and maintain a trail system within Town of Highlands that connects the Town to beautiful points of interest such as Sunset Rock, the Bascom and the Highlands Botanical Garden.
The trails are well placed and well built, however, many visitors find the trails difficult to navigate. For the past three years the volunteers of the Greenway have been working on an ambitious project to redesign and install new signage throughout the extensive trail system of the Highlands Greenway.
Hundreds of volunteer hours and thousands of donated dollars have been involved in this endeavor. Thanks to generous grants from both the Highlands Chamber of Commerce and Mountain Findings, members of the Greenway board worked with Ansley Tolleson, a graphic designer specializing in signage and maps, to develop a signage system and new map for the trail system that is easier for trail users to navigate.
Over the past six months, volunteers of the Greenway have worked hard to install a total of 66 new posts with 210 directional signs along the trail. Each post has a QR code that will allow users to use their smart phones to access the new trail map!
The new map and coordinating signs divide the trail system into six color coordinated areas. The “In-Town” trails identify town streets that are included in the Greenway system and radiate from the hub at Founders Park.
The other five trail areas are: the Mill Creek Trails, Big Bear Pen Mountain trails, Biological Station trails, Ravenel Park trails, and Satulah Mountain trails. Each of these areas include great opportunities for hikers to access natural areas or utilize trails to traverse between neighborhoods and the downtown area. The new wayfinding system clearly marks the trails, better communicating to hikers where they are on the trail and how to reach their next destination.
The goal is to increase trail usage and encourage visitors and locals to walk between destinations while enjoying this beautiful high-elevations plateau. Less traffic means more clean air for everyone!
The Greenway is grateful for the support of the many volunteers, who supplied all of the labor for this endeavor, as well as the donors to the Greenway for the financial support, and to the Greenway partners: the Town of Highlands, Highlands Biological Station, the Bascom, and the Highlands Cashiers Land Trust.
To learn more about the Highlands Plateau Greenway, to become a volunteer, or to access the new map, click HERE.