February 5, 2019

Story contributed by: John McCarthy, Scoutmaster, Troop 211

Oxford, GA – Each year Oxford-based Boy Scout Troop 211 plans a cold weather camping and hiking trip on Martin Luther King Jr. Day weekend. This year’s trip was planned for Cumberland Island National Seashore on Georgia’s southern coast, just north of Jacksonville, Florida.

However, because of the US government shutdown and the furloughing of National Park Service employees the trip was a no go and the scouts had to scramble to develop alternate plans.

The first backup plan was to camp and hike in the Nantahala National Forest near Franklin, North Carolina. However, predictions of bad weather and associated travel concerns on the roads in and around the national forest ruined that plan.

The second backup plan was to stay local, camping and hiking trails in the Charlie Elliot Wildlife Center. However that plan also fell apart due to concern about heavy thunderstorms on Saturday and safety concerns for hiking the more rugged trails following those storms.

John McCarthy, scoutmaster and avid member of Newton Trails’ Wednesday hiking club as well as a trail maintenance volunteer, then suggested hiking the Cricket Frog Trail from the parking garage on Elm Street in downtown Covington to the trestle over the Alcovy River and back.

On Sunday morning seven troop members donned backpacks loaded with all the camping gear, clothing, and food needed for an overnight outing and headed out for the seven mile round trip. Though they would not camp overnight, they carried all the needed gear as a training exercise. The scouts prepared and ate lunch at the halfway point, near the Alcovy River trestle, before hiking back to the parking garage.

Troop 211 had previously hiked the Oxford and Eastside trails in similar fashion. McCarthy expressed his appreciation for Newton Trails and the work it has done to develop quality hiking trails in the county. He said, “Though it was not the “big trip” that we planned for this weekend, it was a great local alternative when the other opportunities failed us.”

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PHOTO CAPTIONS:

* Boy Scout Troop 211 ready to leave on a seven mile hike the Cricket Frog Trail. (Photo by Maureen Evritt)

* Boy Scout Troop 211 at the Alcovy River trestle and halfway through their seven mile hike on the Cricket Frog Trail. (Photo by Maureen Evritt)

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Media contact: Duane M. Ford, duane.merlin.ford@gmail.com / 608-331-7151

Newton Trails is a non-profit corporation dedicated to promoting, developing, and sustaining a connected system of trails that supports a vibrant, healthy, and prosperous community. Its formal name is Newton County Trail – Path Foundation, Inc. Newton Trails has a record of success dating from the 1990’s. Working with various partners and using grant money and donations, its efforts have resulted in the development of nearly nine miles of multi-use trails within Newton County, Georgia. In 2016, Newton Trails secured a long-term lease on the 15 mile Norfolk Southern Railroad corridor between Covington and Newborn, Georgia. The Cricket Frog Trail is being developed on the old rail bed. Newton Trails sponsors bicycle rides, hikes, volunteer trail maintenance, and other activities associated with recreation and trails.

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