May 14 2024

Giles Trail Club Meeting Notes & Next Steps

Promotional graphic with green background and stylized font in the foregroundInterest Meeting Notes & Next Steps

  • Pearisburg, 4-2-24 at 6pm had 9 attendees.
  • Narrows, 4-4-24 at 10am, had 7 attendees.
  • Newport, 4-6-24 at 2pm, had 17 attendees.
  • We had 68 responses to our online Google Interest Form
  • Meetings were advertised in the Virginian Leader, flyers at Town Halls and throughout County, on Facebook, as Facebook events, and within our Giles Internal and External newsletters.

Overwhelmingly when asked “what would you hope to get out of this experience” attendees responded with group hikes, schedule of hiking meet-up opportunities, include educational/guest presenters to join on hikes.

When asked about format the consensus was to begin informally with a calendar/schedule that all could join in as able. As that grew and became more robust and there was a need for a more formalized structure, which could be reevaluated at a future date.

Communication and the platform in which people learned about hike or trail maintenance dates was a prominent topic of conversation. The Giles County Tourism Office will, for now, serve as the catalyst of communication with the hopes of engaging an app (i.e., Team Reach) to be able to self-organize and communicate amongst Trail Club participants. Facebook and social media will be used, including determining if a Group on Facebook would help organize interest/communications.

Organized Hikes

  • Individuals shared everything from twice weekly to monthly hikes.
  • Hosting a quarterly face-to-face check in for a “meeting” to organize/reflect/plan.
  • Volunteers to identify as Hike Leaders and be the point of contact for specific outings.
  • When promoting hikes being sure to include:
    • Distance
    • Technical Ability Required
    • Members Write Reviews of the experience (for AllTrails, Google, Giles County)- specifically a youth component of how/what they liked about a hike/trail.
  • Topics for guests during hikes included:
    • Add-on opportunities for a fee
    • Backpacking
    • Cooperative Extension
    • Trail Ranger
    • Master Naturalists
    • Department of Wildlife Resources
    • Health & Wellness
    • Safety/wilderness first aid
    • Women Trail Day
    • Appalachian Trail/Sections
    • History

Trail Maintenance

  • Rice Fields and Groundhog trails were mentioned that they could already use attention this season.
  • War Spur parking area signage is currently needed.
  • The participants shared that a process should be put in place to report maintenance needs.
  • Trail Club members acting as stewards on all trails.
  • Most participants wanted to learn about trail maintenance/how-to/when-to
  • Interested in facilitated workdays on trails.
  • Certifications/safety/training were discussed at all meetings.

Youth was a topic of conversation at all meetings as well:

Emily Moye, Virginia Cooperative Extension, 4-H Youth Development, emoye@vt.edu has already scheduled youth day hikes throughout the summer. Those wishing to volunteer or learn more should reach out. Future opportunities will be included in Giles Trail Club communications.

Other topics discussed

  • How to audit the digital listings of trails in Giles to ensure correct information (mileage, difficulty, parking) is listed?
  • How did West Virginia gain access to a free pro version of AllTrails- Cora inquiring
  • Reviewing other models of trail clubs including the Poverty Creek Trail Coalition
  • Promoting “Hike-A-Likes” if you like this waterfall… you would like this waterfall (example)
  • Using a Giles Trail Club to raise awareness of residents of amenities and changing perceptions.
  • Inventorying information such as directions and how to access trails.
  • Shuttle service throughout community for those hoping to get out on trails.
  • Venturing outside of Giles for group hikes (Grayson Highlands
  • Dog friendly hikes & opportunities

Other group activities:

Walkers in Newport, facilitated by Doug Martin. Contact pmartin@pemtel.net for more information. Brief description: An informal group of “Walkers in Newport” met on January 1, 2014, with a goal of recording their individual walking miles and using those miles to simulate walking to other Newports in this country and abroad. Individual miles have been reported weekly and the aggregate miles are totaled. We are a blend of old timers and newcomers who share the common denominator of walking. Our updates include a “Walk through local history.”  We have “visited” or “re-visited” over 100 different Newports. All individuals are welcomed to participate and can walk anywhere at any time.  Ages ranging from 3 years to 90 plus years have shared steps. He also mentioned a fundraising opportunity with this group to have pledges of $ per mile to support area scholarships.

New River Runners-Virginia, facilitated by Alicia Lane. Visit their Facebook Group for more information, https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100092902686045 From their Group About: A running group for everyone. Winter schedule for group runs: Tuesdays @ 6:00pm | Saturdays @ 9:00am. We meet at the Narrows Rec Dept across from the duck pond.

Next Steps:

  • As promised these notes are being compiled and delivered to all interest meeting attendees and online form entrants.
  • Volunteers who would like to be a Hike Leader- please share dates/locations for hikes and we will start adding to calendar and promoting.

Thank you for your interest and engagement. We are all in this together and we appreciate your feedback and energy to kick off this great local opportunity!

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