Saturday, March 20, 2021 – A CRATA volunteer work crew spent a beautiful Saturday on the Jim Scott Deadening Trail replacing a set of worn out stairs. As some of you know, this trail is the most rugged and difficult trail in the CRATA trail system. This particular set of stairs is located on the side of a cliff overlooking Lake Martin. The location is difficult to get to and posed quite a challenge to get new building materials and tools to the worksite! Our volunteers hand carried boards, posts, beams and tools through dense woods and down a steep embankment, to get to the worksite, While some volunteers disassembled the old stairs and constructed the new set, others brought in the new lumber and hauled the old lumber back to the trucks.  

The new stairs are now complete, except for a few finishing touches, and ready for trail traffic. Another set of stairs on this trail is scheduled to be replaced this month also. Materials for that project will have to be brought in by boat. CRATA is steadily working to replace aging structures, such as these stairs, to make sure our trails are safe and enjoyable for the public.  

Volunteers on this project were Jimmy Lanier, Mike Wilson, Walt Hutcheson, Matt Campbell, Bill Garnett, Marie Kyser, Randall McClendon, Dana McClendon, Steve Thomas, Harold Banks, Clay Humphries, Don LeFever, Roger Wolczek and Tucker Ellis.

On the construction crew shown in the bottom photo are Don LeFever, Tucker Ellis, Jimmy Lanier, Clay Humphries, Roger Wolczek, Mike Wilson and Walt Hutcheson.

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Update

Thursday, February 25, 2021 – The Walker Bynum Tower Loop Trail has been re-opened. We have completed the construction of a new and much improved staircase on the trail that leads from the Smith Mountain parking lot to the fire lookout tower.

 

Friday, February 12, 2021 – The first half of the Walker Bynum Tower Loop Trail at Smith Mountain is closed shortly past the informational kiosk. The tall staircase going up the last part of the mountain is being replaced with a much stronger, safer structure. The tower can still be accessed by walking the service road up the mountain.  The Lakeshore Trail access is reached by taking the dirt road to the right from the closure sign.  The return trail from the Tower to the Parking Lot is still open if you would like a more scenic route back . The other hiking trails remain open and accessible at the top of Smith Mountain, from the tower area. We expect the building project to take up to 2 weeks to complete, depending on weather. We will update this post when the work is complete and the trail is open. 

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Unfortunately CRATA has discovered that all of the volunteer forms that have been submitted over the last six months have not been delivered to our email box. We wondered if we weren’t loved anymore, but thought noooo, that can’t be possible! After checking we discovered a glitch in our form.

If you have filled out our volunteer form and never heard back from us, please forgive us! We have fixed our technical error and ask you to complete our online volunteer form again. We always need and appreciate your help and volunteer service for our mission. 

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WASP ALERT

UPDATE 11/29/20: The wasps that were swarming the tower appear to have moved on!

Wasps are currently swarming around the cab of the fire tower on Smith Mountain. Male wasps look for high places to hang out
and attract females. On warm days during the fall, future queens become active and fly about. Dozens or hundreds might be seen in and around the Smith Mountain Fire Tower. There is no nest inside or on the tower. I have spent considerable time
inside the cabin of the tower during these times and have never had a wasp to land on me or try to sting. They don’t show
aggressive behavior because they don’t have a nest to protect. But it can be unnerving and may test your resolve to
remain calm. I believe it is still safe as long as you don’t swat at the wasps, but many people will not be comfortable with them.
Be patient. They will leave on their own soon… Harold Banks  CRATA

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The fire tower and hiking trails on Smith Mountain were recently featured on WSFA News. Hailey Sutton,  a sports journalist for the station, documents her visits to Alabama’s outdoor attractions in the viewing area, in stories under the heading “Hiking with Hailey”. On Wednesday, September 9,  CRATA’s own Jimmy Lanier met Hailey and her film crew at Smith Mountain to do a little hiking, climb the fire tower and report on her adventures at our beautiful trail location. Later in the day they also visited the Cherokee Ridge Alpine Trail, at Overlook Park. 

Hailey’s Smith Mountain story aired on the sports segment of WSFA Sunday night news, on September 13. You can see her story by clicking this link. Another “Hiking with Hailey” story may air in the near future, featuring the Cherokee Ridge Alpine Trail and CRATA. Stay tuned!

 

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