Seniors Build 30 Miles of Nationally Recognized Hiking Trails

Jun 24, 2015, 16:07 ET from Tellico Village

LOUDON, Tenn., June 24, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- Long days in the sweltering, Southern sun did not stop senior volunteers, ranging in age from 50 to 80, from completing 30 miles of hiking trails in a Lower Appalachian community.

The finished East Lakeshore Trail meanders along the banks of Tellico Lake, twisting through varying environments including shaded forests, open fields and miles of waterside views.

The project itself, complete with its own twists and turns, started about 14 years ago and came to completion in December of 2014—with an official opening in April of this year.

Comprised mainly of residents of the active adult community, Tellico Village, more than 100 senior volunteers gave energy and many thousands of man-hours to plan the project, clear the land and build the trail system, now designated as a National Recreation Trail by the U.S. Department of the Interior.

The initiative actually served to prompt the creation of a nonprofit, the Watershed Association of the Tellico Reservoir (WATeR). WATeR is the organization responsible for planning, resource allocation and coordination with other organizations that eventually became involved as key players—such as the Tennessee Valley Association (TVA).

Project leaders have unwaveringly maintained that being in the retirement stage of life, does not mean fortitude and life vigor goes to pasture.

"Seeing men nearing their 80th birthday digging with a pick axe on a hot summer day will inspire you to push yourself beyond what you thought possible," said Bob Martin, board member and former chairman of the WATeR Trails Committee. "Just because we're older doesn't mean we're not capable of huge feats of determination."

Construction of the East Lakeshore Trail essentially began with a local outdoors group giving up one of their weekly hikes each month to work in collaboration with WATeR on the build.

Over time more volunteers began showing up—hiking long distances, hauling their own tools and equipment to work sites, spending long days digging, clearing debris and shaping pathways. From there it grew to a mission spanning more than a decade and involving area residents, local civic organizations and government agencies.

When the project came to points that seemed insurmountable, TVA and other partners assisted with grants and resources, piling community efforts to ensure the survival and success of the build.

The finished project consists of nine interconnected branches, six trailhead parking areas, bridges, boat landings and benches—all publicly accessible.

Accompanying the trail system build, thousands of volunteers over the past 14 years have removed more than 110 tons of trash from the land, beautifying the surrounding scenery and providing a cleaner environment for not only the human residents of the area, but also for the wildlife who call the Tellico Reservoir home.

Rich in volunteer culture, Tellico Village residents participate in a wide range of organizations including WATeR, hiking clubs and other socially responsible groups.

About Tellico Village
Tellico Village is a planned, active adult community established in 1986, located in Loudon County and Monroe County, Tennessee. It encompasses nearly 5,000 acres along Tellico Lake with the community continuing to grow thanks to the variety of recreational amenities available and the friendliness of nearly 7,000 residents. For more information visit


Louise Elliott

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SOURCE Tellico Village