Living in Cornelius, it is not easy to take a walk in the wilderness within our own community.
But that is exactly what you are able to do at the new trail at Bailey Road Park.
The trail, which is one-quarter mile in length, was created by Joe Palamara Jr., 16, of Cornelius. Palamara, a junior at Hopewell High, who was recently awarded the honor of Eagle Scout from his Scout Master, John Carpenter of Troop 82.
One of the requirements to become an Eagle Scout is to lead, plan and raise money for a community project that is more than 100 hours.
Palamara first met with Troy Fitzsimmons, Cornelius parks director, to explain his vision of the trail.
After receiving approval to propose the project, Palamara scouted out the area that would become the trail and presented a proposal to the parks department.
He mapped out the general area of where the path would go, how it would look, how much it would cost and what elements would be included.
At a town meeting, he presented his plan and received approval to begin in June.
Palamara, along with volunteers, friends and family, cleared out all of the dead trees and debris to create the path. They were careful not to interrupt any living plant, tree or animal.
The ground will make the imprint of where the trail will be.
"It is a true nature trail," Palamara says.
Once the trail was cleared, Palamara added markers to guide visitors, as well as two signs at the entrance and exit, and two stretching posts. He also added several birdhouses and batboxes to create a safe place for them to nest.
Palamara sent a fundraising letter to his friends and family and told them what the trail meant to him and their community. The response he got was incredible. Some donated money. Some donated their time, while others purchased one of the batboxes and birdhouses, each of which has a dedication plaque in honor of the person who donated it.
The trail cost $1,700 to complete and 208 hours of work. That includes volunteer and planning hours. The trail was completed in September.
When asked why he chose this particular project, Palamara explained that not many parks have natural trails for residents to see animals that are native to North Carolina. Palamara has seen cardinals, woodpeckers and sparrows while walking the path. He was inspired by trails he had hiked in the mountains and modeled the trail after them.
Sue Cornell of Huntersville was walking the trail recently with her rescue mix dog, Levi.
"We come here every Saturday and walk the trail three to four times," she says. "Levi loves it."
It is an accomplishment that Palamara can be proud of. He put great thought and planning into executing this project, and it paid off.
The end result is a nature trail that will be enjoyed by our community for years. For directions to the park, visit www.corneliuspr.org.