Efforts continue to transform an unused rail corridor which runs through Northeast Texas, including Hunt County, into pedestrian, bicycle and equestrian trails.
The Northeast Texas Trail, or NETT, is in the process of being established across 130 miles, stretching through seven counties and 19 small towns between Farmersville and New Boston. It is the fifth longest trail in America and the longest in Texas.
Chaparral Rails-to-Trails Inc. manages the section from Farmersville to Paris, which includes Merit, Celeste and Wolfe City, and is one of eight local rail bank entities which is overseeing the project.
The Northeast Texas Trail Coalition recently announced the Texas Department of Parks and Wildlife approved six different grants totaling $1,174,400 for trail projects in Northeast Texas. The funds are National Recreational Trails Fund dollars that fund trail construction, renovation and acquisition.
Avid cyclist Bob Mudie recently spoke to the Greenville Noon Rotary Club about the effort and said sections of the NETT received funding, including a portion from Merit to Celeste.
“We had to put up $50,000 and they gave us $200,000 back,” Mudie said, adding that construction is expected to begin in October.
A similar grant is being sought for the portion which runs through Wolfe City.
“They are trying to get the same amount of money and do a one-mile section from downtown out to the lake north of Wolfe City,” Mudie said. “Work on that will probably begin sometime next year.”
A third grant is being sought in February of next year, to pay for the portion of the trail between Celeste and Wolfe City.
“And once we get those three married together, we’ll be able to introduce the people of the Metroplex to about 26 miles of trail,” Mudie said. “That’s critical not only to the development of the trail, but to the development of match money to make this happen.”
The recreational trail is designed to promote healthy lifestyles, economic revitalization and tourism in the rural communities that once thrived as a part of the railroad boom. The trail will offer open green space, preserve an historic Texas railway corridor with beautiful bridges, and serves as a wildlife conservation corridor.
Individuals, business and organizations are also contributing to the cause.
The Henry Group recently donated $80,000 toward the Chaparral Rails-to-Trails.
Mudie mentioned how the NETT has joined to be a part of the North Texas Giving Day on Sept. 19.
“And every dollar you donate will become match money for this trail construction between Celeste and Wolfe City,” he said.
Mudie said the trail will prove to be a benefit to residents and visitors of all ages.
“If you are into walking, if you are into jogging, if you are into cycling, go over to Farmersville and take your family to the Onion Shed,” he said. “You can get on the trail right there and you can have a paved surface, either concrete, asphalt, or decomposed granite for five miles out to the intersection of 2194 which is at Bland High School and then you can turn around and have a 10-mile journey. You can get some good exercise, enjoy the shade and you might see some wildlife.”
Mudie said longer walks are possible, but for now, “it is primitive.”
The Wolfe City section of the trail includes a primitive overnight camp ground inside the Tom Ellis White Park, located at the city lakes right off the trail. Trail users can pitch overnight at the campsite, named in memory of Wolfe City police officer Tom Ellis White who gave his life in the line of duty July 8, 1975.
Users of the Tom Ellis White Park must reserve the park at www. wolfecityrailtrail.org/camping
Multiple upcoming events are being held in connection with the NETT.
The inaugural Greenville Gravel Grinder is scheduled the morning of Sept. 21 as part of the third annual Cotton Patch Challenge and is a self-supported gravel bike ride on a set route along mixed terrain roads. The ride starts and finishes at Landon’s Winery in downtown Greenville. The route takes you on combinations of gravel, dirt, portions of the Northeast Texas Trail and hard surface roads.
Additional information regarding the trail is available online at netexastrail.org/