South Charlotte

New Ballantyne trail has meaningful name

The paths through Ballantyne Corporate Park continue to grow with the recent completion of the Willard Trail.

The 550-foot-long pit-gravel trail, lined with timbers, loops through a wooded area near the 17th hole of the The Golf Club at Ballantyne near Ballantyne Corporate Place road.

Smoky Bissell, head of Bissell Cos. and the primary developer of Ballantyne, named the new trail after Charles and Lydia Willard, friends of Bissell and his wife, Margaret Gragg Bissell.

“Margaret and I enjoy walking throughout Ballantyne Corporate Park and are always looking for ways to make the experience more interesting,” Bissell said.

“When we were exploring the area of what is now Willard Trail, I asked Margaret what it reminded her of, and she immediately shared the Willard Nature Preserve at YMCA Camp Harrison.”

YMCA Camp Harrison is in Boomer between Lenoir and North Wilkesboro; the preserve there consists of woods and trails.

“Charles and Lydia Willard were dear friends of both of us, and we thought it was fitting to name this area in their honor,” Bissell said.

The trail is marked with a plaque. The access to Willard Trail is adjacent to the Morrison YMCA Field No. 7 on Ballantyne Corporate Place.

Smoky Bissell frequently has named buildings and amenities in Ballantyne after friends. Cullman Park, which has a waterfall, walking trail and picnic areas near Harney Drive, was named after philanthropist and businessman Edgar Cullman and his wife, Louise.

Hawkins Pond on the Willard Trail is named after Robert J. Hawkins, who taught English for many years at the Hotchkiss School in Lakeville, Conn.

Ballantyne Corporate Park has had walking trails since development began in 1996, and the trail system has stretched to 16 miles.

Much of the trail follows major roads in Ballantyne, including Ballantyne Corporate Place off Johnston Road and Ballantyne Commons Parkway. The Willard Trail is part of a side trail that leads past two ponds and the Audubon Amphitheater.

Bissell said the trails were designed for those who work in the corporate park, but they are open to the community.

In addition to community residents, the trails are frequented by wedding parties taking pictures and people working out with groups from nearby gyms, including personal trainers with clients from The Ballantyne Hotel & Lodge. The trails include running loops and 20 exercise stations.

Bissell pays for the development of the Ballantyne Corporate Park Trail system, and it’s likely the trails will continue to change and expand.

“We are always looking for ways to enhance the customer experience and improve the corporate park,” Bissell said.