, 2022-11-03 12:03:00,
Mercer County leaders have repurposed 23 acres of woodland, once used for forestry research, into a recreational area. And its two miles of trails offer more than hiking. They also have a lot of history and learning opportunities.
The trailhead of the Gardner Center’s network of hiking trails is located less than a mile off of Interstate 77 at exit 14. The property was once used as a U.S. Forest Service’s Forestry Sciences Laboratory.
“The foresters just like to get out in the woods,” Mercer County Commissioner Bill Archer said. “Since it was a federal government entity, you know, they spared no expense as far as rock lining all the trails out through there that are open.”
While the trail in the forest had a good foundation, Archer said the county still had to work to prepare the site for the public. The county worked to clear debris, modernize some of the signs found along the trail identifying some of the trees and soften the rock lined paths.
“We had a lot of excess wood, and we leased a wood chipper and ground [the wood] into wood chips, and my late wife recommended that we put that on the trails,” Archer said. “If we had them we might as well use them to make a nice soft trail to walk, on and it’s very safe.”
The site also has a building, once used by the U.S. Forest Service; it’s the only building in the country dedicated to honor President John F. Kennedy before he was assassinated.
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