Two-mile Peak Mountain Trail proposed in Seven Devils

SEVEN DEVILS – In a town council meeting on Feb. 14, the town of Seven Devils authorized a pre-application for a Recreation Trails Program Grant for the new Peak Mountain Trail.

“The town council has great vision for creating and preserving more green areas in and around the town of Seven Devils,” said Debbie Powers, town manager.

RTP Grants require a 25 percent commitment by the applying community, so with the $20,000 approved by Seven Devils, the maximum the town could receive from the grant is $80,000.

“This goes along with our Parks and Recreation Master Plan,” noted town clerk Hillary Gropp.

The town worked with Blue Ridge Conservancy — who acquired the 245 acres of Peak Mountain in April 2016 thanks to a donation from Fred and Alice Stanback — to develop the plan for the proposed trail and apply for the grant.

“Blue Ridge Conservancy is working in partnership with the town of Seven Devils to make this trail a reality,” said Nikki Bauman of Blue Ridge Conservancy. “Part of Blue Ridge Conservancy’s mission is to create and protect recreational opportunities in the High Country for residents and visitors.”

The grant coincided with a zoning change in the Jan. 14 meeting that added “parks” as a zoning district. The property where the proposed Peak Mountain Trail was zoned as parks at the same meeting.

The approved resolution in applying for the grant notes “the town of Seven Devils endeavors to create and preserve natural resources for the enjoyment of citizens for future generations.”

The RTP Grant pre-application is due at the end of February. The full application is due during the summer, and the grand recipients will be notified in the fall.

If the grant is approved, construction would begin in 2018 and take two years, according to Gropp. The trail, which would be around two miles in length, would go from Otter Falls Park to the top of Peak Mountain, crossing the Watauga/Avery county line. According to Blue Ridge Conservancy, the land varies from 3,680 to 4,760 feet, is steep in several areas and is entirely forested, dominated by mixed hardwoods.

Nikki Robinson