FRPA Journal - Fall 2016 - 24

Florida's EMERGING TRAIL TOWNS By Doug Alderson Trail towns are those communities along long-distance hiking, biking, equestrian or paddling trails where trail users can learn about an area's history and culture, stock up on supplies, spend the night and enjoy a tasty meal. In turn, the towns often reap economic rewards from the influx of people. Communities that are recognized as trail towns have common characteristics. They serve as a portal or gateway to a trail system, have a viable trails and greenways plan, provide trail services such as shuttles, supplies and rentals, are considered "trail friendly" and have knowledgeable people who interact with visitors, and provide a "sense of place" by being willing to share culture, history and stories. Currently, two groups in Florida recognize trail towns. The Florida Trail Association designates Gateway Communities that are along the Florida National Scenic Trail, a trail primarily for hikers. These include the towns of Clewiston, Dunnellon, White Springs, Sopchoppy and Blountstown. For towns along water trails, the Florida Paddling Trails Association designates Blueway Communities. The groups promote the towns on their websites and in publications and the towns, in turn, put up signs at their entrances indicating they are a gateway or blueway community. While there is no formal recognition program for communities along paved shared-use bike paths, several towns have long been considered trail towns by users. Dunedin, Winter Garden and Inverness, for example, have all experienced economic growth when high profile paved trails were established through their downtowns. The tiny town of Armstrong, along the St. Johns River-to-Sea Loop, is now a favored stop for tour groups in need of hot meals and camping facilities. "The objective is to use trail touring not just to interpret localities but to benefit them in 24 direct economic ways," said trail founder Herb Hiller. In Florida's Big Bend area, the coastal town of St. Marks is uniquely situated at the terminus of the Tallahassee-St. Marks Historic Railroad State Trail, Florida's first Rails to Trails project. More than 140,000 people use the 12-foot wide paved path each year for health, relaxation and access to tasty food. "Trail users make up 15 to 20 percent of my business," said Stanley West, owner of the Riverside Café on the shores of the St. Marks River. "The trail's been good for the whole community." Palatka is another emerging trail town. It sits at the junction of two state-managed multi-use trails, the Palatka-to-Lake Butler State Trail and the Palatka-to-St. Augustine State Trail. The Florida National Scenic Trail skirts its western boundary, and it is perched on the state-designated St.  Johns River Blueway. To add to Palatka's status as a trail town, volunteers Sam Carr and Dean Campbell combined their passion for View past issues of FRPA Journal at www.naylornetwork.com/frp-nxt/ trails and history to put together the Bartram Trail in Putnam County, inspired by the writings of John Bartram and his son, William, naturalists and authors who explored the region in the 1700s. Many of the 30-plus sites that the two wrote about in Putnam County can now be visited by either land or water along the trail system. On June 4, National Trails Day, the Bartram Trail in Putnam County was one of a handful of trails to receive the National Recreation Trails designation by the federal government. "The designation will be a huge benefit to Putnam County as far as ecotourism goes, and it means that our trails are very valuable," said Sam Carr. "All of this work has really come to fruition." As the trail system in Florida continues to expand, so will the emergence of new trail towns and ways to recognize them. ■ Doug Alderson is the Assistant Bureau Chief for the Florida Office of Greenways and Trails and is the author of several books about Florida. http://www.naylornetwork.com/frp-nxt/

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of FRPA Journal - Fall 2016

A Message from the President of FRPA
A Message from the Executive Director of FRPA
Parks and Recreation: What is the Real Value in What We Do?
FRPA Agency Profile
Book Review
Economic Impact of the Underline
Urban Forest Management – The City of Tampa’s Story
The Importance of Structural Pruning of Hardwood Trees
A City’s Rebirth through Park Improvements
“Thank You for My New Bicycle”
Florida’s Emerging Trail Towns
New Urbanism… What’s It All About?
Index of Advertisers
FRPA Journal - Fall 2016 - cover1
FRPA Journal - Fall 2016 - cover2
FRPA Journal - Fall 2016 - 3
FRPA Journal - Fall 2016 - 4
FRPA Journal - Fall 2016 - 5
FRPA Journal - Fall 2016 - 6
FRPA Journal - Fall 2016 - A Message from the President of FRPA
FRPA Journal - Fall 2016 - A Message from the Executive Director of FRPA
FRPA Journal - Fall 2016 - 9
FRPA Journal - Fall 2016 - Parks and Recreation: What is the Real Value in What We Do?
FRPA Journal - Fall 2016 - 11
FRPA Journal - Fall 2016 - 12
FRPA Journal - Fall 2016 - FRPA Agency Profile
FRPA Journal - Fall 2016 - Book Review
FRPA Journal - Fall 2016 - Economic Impact of the Underline
FRPA Journal - Fall 2016 - Urban Forest Management – The City of Tampa’s Story
FRPA Journal - Fall 2016 - 17
FRPA Journal - Fall 2016 - The Importance of Structural Pruning of Hardwood Trees
FRPA Journal - Fall 2016 - 19
FRPA Journal - Fall 2016 - A City’s Rebirth through Park Improvements
FRPA Journal - Fall 2016 - 21
FRPA Journal - Fall 2016 - “Thank You for My New Bicycle”
FRPA Journal - Fall 2016 - 23
FRPA Journal - Fall 2016 - Florida’s Emerging Trail Towns
FRPA Journal - Fall 2016 - New Urbanism… What’s It All About?
FRPA Journal - Fall 2016 - Index of Advertisers
FRPA Journal - Fall 2016 - cover3
FRPA Journal - Fall 2016 - cover4
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