Happy Trails: Horse riders get paths in Croatan

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Riders make their way down one of the horse trails at the Pine Cliffs Recreation Area in the Croatan National Forest. The riders believe the new trails will bring in others from as far away as Raleigh.

Drew C. Wilson/Havelock News
Published: Thursday, November 8, 2012 at 07:27 PM.

A posse was on the hunt Sunday to lasso interest in the Pine Cliff Equestrian Trails at the Croatan National Forest.

A group of 86 horse riders turned out to celebrate completion of 13 miles of trails and draw attention to the need for camping facilities at the site as a draw for equine tourism.

"We just want everybody to know about it. We’re trying to get camping here," said Buffy Blood, president of the Benefiting Intracoastal Trails, a nonprofit organization formed eight years ago to spearhead the effort to create the equestrian trails in the national forest.

"We’re trying to get more interest and more facilities here in the eastern part of North Carolina. There are camping areas for horses in other parts of the state. and we’d love to see it start here."

The effort to get the trail established goes back more than half a dozen years, said Dennis Foster, assistant ranger for recreation and engineering at the Croatan National Forest.

Foster said a $71,000 federal Race to the Top grant funded creation of the trails, and another $75,000 grant would pay for completion of the parking lot.

"It’s a unified effort. They help us maintain it," Foster said of the trails group. "They did all the mowing this year and all the brushing and a lot of maintenance. There’s a lot of maintenance. Because everything grows here, they’ve got to be brushed twice a year."

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