What is the Bailey Mountain Park?
- It is a conservation area owned by The Richard L. Hoffman Foundation that is available for public use. The Bailey Mountain Park is a 197-acre tract which takes in most of the southern slope of the mountain, including the headwaters of the White Oak Branch. Bailey Mountain is the highest peak visible from the Town, and figures prominently in the history of the Town and Mars Hill University. The park offers six miles of hiking trails for the enjoyment of the public.
Why is the Bailey Mountain Park Important?
- When the Bailey Mountain Park property was offered for sale in 1996, many local residents were alarmed that Bailey Mountain may be lost to future generations. Local residents and students have always climbed its slopes as both a Freshman initiation, and as pure recreation. The local community joined with state agencies and non-profit partners to secure and protect that parcel.
What does the Smith Farm property have to do with this?
- The 89-acre Smith Property borders the Town of Mars Hill and includes a significant portion of Bailey Mountain’s eastern slope. The Smith Property has been seen as the key parcel in creating uninhibited public access to Bailey Mountain. To access the existing Bailey Mountain Property requires a drive of 3.5 miles from town with a right of way that crosses two private landowners. Acquiring the Smith property will provide public access directly from a public roadway within walking distance from town. The acquisition will protect the waters of Banjo Branch stream, create a parking area and trail head, expand the Bailey Mountain Properties by protecting an additional 89 acres of Bailey Mountain’s eastern slopes, protect an additional section of the Bailey Mountain view shed, and serve to expand and connect the envisioned trails to the Bailey Mountain Greenway Trail.
What needs to be done to acquire this property?
- An option to purchase this property has been acquired and will be renewed in late October if the funds are raised for the renewal. Application for grants that will provide major funding for the purchase of the property and the establishment of conservation easements have been submitted. The Clean Water Management Trust Fund recently awarded a $335,000 Matching Grant for the acquisition of the property. Once again, we are hoping that the local community that will benefit from the addition of this access to Bailey Mountain and its educational and recreational opportunities will join us in raising the necessary funds to renew the option and to provide necessary matching funds for the project. This acquisition will bring the total amount of protected land on Bailey Mountain to approximately 300 acres. Bailey Mountain hosts significant Native American history, African American history, and local musical tradition which gives its name to “Banjo Branch”.
The Smith Property is a strategic acquisition for The Richard L. Hoffman Foundation, the Town of Mars Hill, Mars Hill University, and Madison County (Project Partners), in that it serves as a connecting property between the existing Bailey Mountain Property and the efforts of the Town of Mars Hill and Mars Hill University in their plants to create a combination of riparian and street side passages for the recreational and functional pedestrian use. This project represents an expansion of a greenway/riparian trail (Bailey Mountain Greenway Trail) to connect with Bailey Mountain Park. According to Darhyl Boone, Town Manager, “The Town of Mars Hill realizes the importance of having a network of pedestrian infrastructure an facilities to serve the population and workforce. In 1996 the Town completed a strategic plan that recommended an increase in pedestrian and recreational facilities. In 2001, the Town updated the Land Development Plan which also supported pedestrian travel options, and the 2009 Pedestrian Plan developed a vision regarding pedestrian facilities throughout the Town.” Both the Town and University are financial and strategic supporters of this acquisition. Madison County, through its Parks and Recreation Comprehensive Plan has recognized the need for access to Bailey Mountain that provides six miles of hiking rails now available for the enjoyment of the public.
We appreciate your support!