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Visiting the Whitehall Trail by Melissa Hall

map of Whitehall TrailArriving by car, you can park at three locations; at Pee Dee road across from Swoope Road and Indian Trail, at the Elizabeth Rounds Park at 570 Pee Dee Road or at the Reservoir Park lot accessed off N.C. 22.

Directly across from Swoope Road, park in a gravel turn-around or travel down the sandy driveway to the farm gate. There are restrooms available at Rounds Park and the Reservoir Park. The white dots on the trees show you the trail.

Traveling counter clockwise you go gradually downhill through dense deciduous woods, cross a stream (on a wooden bridge) and rise to see the trees open to a wide open view of the beautifully maintained long leaf pine forest. The trail skirts the property entering the woods of Reservoir Park, taking you to the parking lot.

Enjoy the trail around the reservoir, go on to the other greenway trails, return the way you came or cross the parking lot to make a return trip on a path alongside the Frisbee golf course.

You will find a few trail options at the grassy swathe that is a pipeline easement. The left-most path will put you at a sign that reads “Specimen Pond Pine 100 feet North.” Stand in front of that sign and you will see a remarkable, huge and old Pond Pine Tree.

Traveling uphill along the border of the Longleaf golf course you see the glorious view of the long leaf pine forest possibly freshly charred from the maintenance burns that keep it free of choking vegetation, allowing indigenous plant species to thrive and the longleaf pines to grow at their best.

Characteristically the Black Fox squirrel enjoys woods near golf courses, so this is a prime spot to visit with the plumpest fox squirrels ever. When the trail flattens out you border two private properties with handsome pine forests until you reach the Pee Dee road starting points.

With state parks and recreation budgets slashed in 2013, it will take greater effort by communities and non-profit groups like SALT to continue to grow and maintain our outdoor amenities. Increasingly, communities are obliged to foster partnerships between business, individuals and local institutions to create and maintain great walking and hiking trails in our communities.

Hiking these great trails brings so many benefits, so as you breathe the cold, clean air and enjoy an invigorating hike, think about what you can do to contribute as you enjoy the beauty that someone else made possible for your enjoyment.