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Equestrians plan rides to mark National Trails Day


Carroll equestrians can take to the trails June 5 to celebrate the country's first observance of National Trails Day.

The Carroll County Equestrian Council plans guided trail rides at Gillis Falls Park in South Carroll and the Union Mills Reservoir area in the northern county.

It also is coordinating a cleanup day at the Morgan Run Natural Environment Area.

The county Department of Recreation and Parks is helping plan the activities.

All of the events are part of a nationwide effort to focus attention on public trails. The American Hiking Society, an advocacy and educational group, is leading a campaign to establish a national trails system that would encompass urban trails, trails created from abandoned rail lines and long trails such as the Appalachian and Pacific Coast trails.

The goal is to create a network of trails as extensive as the interstate highway system, organizers said.

In Carroll, equestrians hope to let more residents know what kinds of trails are available for hiking and riding, said Carolyn A. Garber, vice president of the Equestrian Council.

The guided rides will begin at 10 a.m. June 5 and will cost $5 per rider. Preregistration is required, and the deadline is Tuesday, Ms. Garber said. Thirty riders will be allowed on each ride, and they must bring their own horses, she said. Youths under 18 must be supervised.

Money raised will go toward finishing a show ring at Gillis Falls Park, where rough grading work has begun, she said.

The county and the Equestrian Council have contributed $4,800 toward building the ring, but $4,000 to $5,000 more will be needed for bleachers, an entrance road, a parking lot and other necessities, said Jeff Degitz, chief of the Bureau of Recreation.

The show ring should be finished this summer, and the plan is to build a second ring eventually, he said.

"It [the ride] will be at a pace everyone is comfortable with," Ms. Garber said.

At Gillis Falls Park, equestrians will ride on about four miles of trails that wind around the park and show ring area.

To reach the trail from northbound Route 27, turn right onto Watersville Road, then left onto Flag Marsh Road and left on Grimville Road. Look for an open field on the left and a gravel road. The trail starts at the end of the gravel road and is marked with yellow and black ribbon.

From northbound Woodbine Road, turn left onto Gillis Falls Road, left onto John Pickett Road and right onto Grimville Road to the gravel road.

The Union Mills area has 13 miles of trails. Take Route 97 north to John Owings Road. Turn right and look for a red equestrian trail sign on the left side of the road before the Hashawha Environmental Appreciation Center.

For information about the rides, call Mary Radcliffe at 857-9760. Registration forms are available at the Department of Recreation and Parks at 125 N. Court St. in Westminster or at county tack and feed stores.

At Morgan Run, volunteers are needed to help clear a section of the first official trail, Ranger Frank Ryan said.

The quarter-mile section will run along the stream and will follow an abandoned road used by timber cutters about 30 years ago, he said.

The state recently developed a master plan for Morgan Run that designates a number of trails. The existing trails were created by hikers, he said. The new trails are designed to have less impact on plants and wildlife, he said.

Officials want to create a system of trails that would stretch from Route 97 to the Liberty Reservoir watershed area, Mr. Ryan said.

Workers also will help clean up an old home site where the home and barn burned, Mr. Ryan said.

Volunteers should wear work boots and bring work gloves and a jug of water, he said. They should meet at 9 a.m. at the park gate at Ben Rose Lane.

From northbound Route 97, turn right onto Bartholow Road, left onto Jim Bowers Road, then left onto Ben Rose Lane, which leads to the park gate.

For information, call Mr. Ryan at 795-1322.

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