UNC Outdoor Education Center debuts new trails on campus

UNC students now have more trails to choose from for hiking, biking and hiking.

The outdoor education center is developing a system of itineraries that will last nearly 4 miles after completion, which is expected to take place this summer. Routes include features such as jumping for mountain bikers.

The new multi-purpose trails at the Outdoor Education Center are among the many on and around the UNC campus. In the North Carolina Forest, for example, there are about 18 routes for mountain biking and hiking.

David Rogers, director of the outdoor education center, said more than 2 miles of the new OEC route system have been completed so far.

“It’s a great place, and it’s a seven-minute walk from the student union,” Rogers said.

He said the trails are part of a three-step plan under the OEC that represents 67 acres of natural space for the campus community. The project was launched in the fall of 2019, and the first two phases of the project have been completed, Rogers said.

Trail Science, a group of public trail builders from the Chapel Hill-Carborough area, has contributed to the construction of the OEC trails.

“They use the natural terrain on which we have to build,” Rogers said. “We stay high at the base so as not to sink into damp places, and plan the trail so as to follow the most aesthetically pleasing path.”

Chris Francis, leader of the Trail Science group, said he has been working on the trails for the past few years.

Community members who are part of Trail Science go to the OEC every weekend for construction, Francis said. The group offered to build trails for free and collected donations to prepare food for those working on the trails, he said.

“We like it, it’s my favorite thing to do,” he said. “You come in early with good friends and new people you haven’t met yet, and you’re just building something on the street, and it’s really fun.”

Francis said Trail Science plans to continue building the trails for free because many members of the community who are building the trails are mountain bikers who plan to use them once completed.

“The reason we wanted to build (OEC routes) is that we are racers on Chapel Hill mountain bikes, and we wanted to control which tracks were built there,” he said.

Russell Hobart, assistant director of climbing programs, said some community members have expressed a need for routes to be safe and not too dangerous for students.

“(We) made sure the signs on the trail were appropriate, and we had everything we needed to get maps so people could move, or if someone had injuries – to have the resources to solve the problem,” Hobart said. .

Multifunctional routes are open to the public. Trail Science hopes to complete the remaining miles within the next four months, Francis said.

For more information on the route, visit the Campus Recreation website here.

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