Trucks pulling boats along the narrow streets of Wildwood Park is nothing new, but some county officials hope that trucks pulling horses may become just as common.
The Columbia County Board of Commissioners has approved transforming old logging roads at the lakeside park into horse trails.
A recent ordinance that the commissioners adopted established a $10 fee per horse trailer for those wanting to ride the trails. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has given their stamp of approval to the project.
The trails will soon be open to the horse-riding public.
"We're going to have two horse trails at Wildwood," said Charlie Beale, Columbia County's recreation director. "One will be around 8 miles long and the other around 10. We've got to put up some signage, mark off the trails, and they should be ready to go."
Keely Bethune (left) and Linda Antopolsky lead their
horses toward the new horse trail in Wildwood Park. The trails were marked by the county recreation department.
Photo by Jim Blaylock
Beale said some county horse enthusiasts came to him earlier in the year to ask about riding on the unused roads cut through the woods at the park. He said he thought it was a great idea and set to work on making it happen.
"Some people came to me with the idea of using some of the logging roads and trails," Beale said. "It's a great spot, and it's some land we were not using at the present time. I thought it was the perfect use for that land and a way to get more people out to Wildwood."
Using the logging roads as horse trials was the idea of former Columbia County Commissioner Al Dempsey, who boards horses at his Appling-area home, and some horse owners that board their horses with him.
"It's something that's already there. Why not use it as another option for recreation?" Dempsey said. "A bunch of people are into trail riding. It's a fast-growing sport."
It also offers a more convenient option to area equestrians, who previously had to go to Aiken or Crawfordville to ride trails.
Vicki Parker, owner of Blue Alm Arabians stables and riding school in Evans, said the Wildwood Park trails will add a new dimension to her business.
"I would love to have a place close enough so that I could take some of my (students) on a trail ride," she said. "It's hard to take them up the itchcock Woods riding trails in Aiken), because it's almost an hour to get up there and an hour back."
The horse trails are one project that officials are looking to add to Wildwood Park.
Funds from the previously approved 1-cent sales tax will be used to build new boat ramps on the lake and add extra parking lots.
The site has been cleared, and grading is under way to add the six boat ramps, which are expected to be finished by May and could support small-to-midsized fishing tournaments.
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