Officials dedicated a .2-mile paved exercise trail May 25, 2021 at Rockland Recreation Area on the shoreline of Old Hickory Lake.
Representatives with the Tennessee Health Department, Sumner County Health Department, Sumner County, and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District cut a ribbon to celebrate, dedicate, and culminate a joint effort to construct the loop fitness trail to provide a pathway for people to safely exercise.
The Tennessee Department of Health awarded Sumner County $20,000 for the project in 2019 through its “Access to Health through Healthy Active Build Environment” Grant. They are offered to all counties to improve health outcomes and enhance the built and natural environments of public spaces so people have access to healthy food, access to safe places for physical activity, time in nature and can socialize.
Crystal Tingle, Old Hickory Lake resource manager, thanked the representatives from the state of Tennessee for the generous grant that now provides a great fitness resource to visitors. She also expressed her appreciation to everyone in attendance for their teamwork and coordination efforts that delivered the project.
“I get to see the fruits of all of your labor every day that I’m at work,” Tingle said. “It’s amazing to see everyone come together in this effort because it’s something that gets used often and gets people off the road. It’s definitely something this area needs and obviously the location is perfect for people to use it.”
Tingle said as soon as they paved the trail everyone kicked into gear and began using it for their New Years resolution to get into better shape.
The grant required construction to be completed by May 2020, but COVID-19 related issues delayed the project. The facilities staff at Old Hickory Lake prepped the base of the pathway and then Sessions Paving applied 82 tons of material on the fitness loop, which the company completed in late December 2020.
The completed exercise trail meets standards set by the Americans with Disabilities Act. The path is quickly being discovered and people have been using it to get fit since January.
“We’re excited that it is being used. It looks so good,” said Sara Cox, Healthy Development coordinator for the Tennessee Department of Health’s Mid Cumberland Region, who managed the grant for the project.
Rockland Recreation Area receives around 400,000 visitors annually that take advantage of picnic sites, shelters, playground, boat ramp, fishing platform and volleyball court.
Hal Hendrix, Sumner County Health Department director, said he noticed that people were walking along the roadway and parking areas and realized that no off-road trail existed at Rockland Recreation Area. The idea to put in a trail seemed like a great enhancement to provide a safe exercise path for visitors, he said.
Hendrix noted how the trail is not only paved, but it is also shaded as it meanders through the trees between the Old Hickory Lake Visitor’s Center and the recreation area.
“Make it convenient for people and they’ll use it,” Hendrix said. “At lunchtime, instead of being out in the direct sun, you are in the shade and don’t have to sweat. You can come exercise and get your mile or two miles in and head back to work.”
Kim Norfleet, Sumner County’s grant administrator, said the county and Corps of Engineers worked together to ensure that ADA requirements were met prior to paving the trail.
“I think it was a good partnership with the Corps of Engineers and the Health Council and state of Tennessee,” Norfleet said. “It was a coordinated effort between all the parties.”
Five laps on the ADA accessible loop equals a mile. It is located on the right side of the roadway about halfway down the roadway when entering the park. The Corps is working on getting a sign for the trail entrance.
(The public can obtain news, updates and information from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District on the district’s website at www.lrn.usace.army.mil, on Facebook at www.facebook.com/nashvillecorps and on Twitter at www.twitter.com/nashvillecorps. The public can also follow Old Hickory Lake on Facebook at www.facebook.com/oldhickorylake.)