Buncombe celebrates opening of new public park, hiking trails

Photo courtesy of Friends of Collier Cove Nature Preserve.
Photo courtesy of Friends of Collier Cove Nature Preserve.

Supporters will celebrate the opening of Buncombe County’s newest public park this weekend.

Collier Cove Nature Preserve, located at 194 Rhododendron Drive in Arden,  consists of over 29 acres of woodland hillside with two miles of  strenuous hiking trails with views of the valley and the eastern Butler Mountain Range. The park will be the first of its kind in the area, offering the steepest hiking trails of any public park operated by the county.

Named after its previous owners, the Collier family, the county purchased the land in 2012. About $106,000 in total county money has gone towards the project, with another $323,000 in North Carolina Parks and Recreation Trust Fund grants covering the costs, according to Fran Thigpen, director of the Buncombe County Library, Recreation & Culture Department.

“This is going to be a wonderful park,” she says. “Hopefully users will be friendly to the property.”

The trails on the land had previously been constructed and maintained by the Collier family, but they sold the land to the county “in order to preserve it forever,” says Thigpen. The county has built a small parking lot at the trailhead and has posted trail signs, but the land remains relatively wild. There are no bathrooms, and users are encouraged to abide by the “pack it in, pack it out” rule. Hiking is the main recreational opportunity available at the park; camping is not allowed. It will be open from sunrise to sunset.

A volunteer group, Friends of Collier Cove Nature Preserve, has been active in helping create the public park, and will host a 11 a.m. Grand Opening and Ribbon Cutting Ceremony Sept. 20 at the site. Immediately following, the group will lead a guided scenic walk up the Trillium Trail.

Map image via the Buncombe County Library, Recreation & Culture Department.
Map image via the Buncombe County Library, Recreation & Culture Department.
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About Jake Frankel
Jake Frankel is an award-winning journalist who enjoys covering a wide range of topics, from politics and government to business, education and entertainment.

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