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19th National Trails Symposium in Little Rock, Arkansas, November 15-18, 2008


Choose from three hikes and learn about developing volunteer trail organizations.


Volunteers at work

Date: Saturday, November 15
Time: 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Cost: $30 each hike (includes light breakfast & box lunch)

Select one of three hikes and hear trail volunteers tell the stories of how need, vision, and coalition building came together in forming two all-volunteer organizations – Friends of the Ouachita Trail (FoOT) and the Denby Point Coalition.

Leaders and volunteers from both organizations, joined by US Forest Service and Corps of Engineers representatives, will give an overview of the founding and operation of both organizations. FoOT supports the Ouachita National Recreation Trail (ONRT). The Denby Point Coalition continues to build the new Lake Ouachita Vista Trail (LOViT) on the south side of Lake Ouachita.

Terrain is rough and rocky. Wearing good hiking boots, dressing in layers, and bringing a small daypack to carry water is recommended.

Hike existing trail and view construction techniques being employed to construct the next phase of the 40-mile long LOViT. Participants will hear stories of the coalition established to create this unique trail, as well as the colorful history of this historical section of Arkansas. Distance: 4 miles; Difficulty: Moderate; Elevation Loss: 900 feet.

Hikers will climb Flatside Pinnacle to overlook Flatside Wilderness and continue on the Ouachita National Recreation Trail to the Brown Creek trail shelter. Volunteers will talk about the Ouachita National Forest's Adopt-A-Trail Program. After lunch, participants will hike to Lake Sylvia where they can hike a short interpretive trail. Distance: 8.5 miles; Difficulty: Difficult; Elevation Gain: 400-500 feet.

Participants will hike to the recently rebuilt Nancy Mountain shelter on the Ouachita National Recreation Trail. The original shelter was destroyed by fire in 2005. They will hear the story of the collaborative efforts between FoOT and the Jessieville/Winona Ranger District of the Ouachita National Forest to replace the original after a possible arson. After lunch, participants will hike to Lake Sylvia where they can hike a short interpretive trail. Distance: 5.5 miles; Difficulty: Moderate; Elevation Gain: 250 feet.

Leaders: Loretta Melancon, Member, Arkansas Trails Council; Jerry Shields, Founder, Traildogs; Kris McMillen, Founder, Friends of the Ouachita Trail; Jim Gifford, President, Friends of the Ouachita Trail

Workshop Leaders Bios:
Loretta Melancon is a retired holistic nurse who became an avid hiker in 2002. She has served in several leadership roles in FoOT and the Ouachita Mountain Hikers. Loretta is also an active member of the Arkansas Trails Council.

Jerry Shields is a retired telecommunications executive, who relocated to Arkansas in 1998. He is an active community volunteer, hiking enthusiast, and novice mountain biker. He is the founder of the Traildogs, a volunteer group dedicated to the design, construction and maintenance of the LOViT. In 2006 he was awarded the American Trails State of Arkansas Trail Advocacy Award.

Kris McMillen is a founder and leader of FoOT. He has served as president of the Ouachita Mountain Hikers and is a long-standing member of the Arkansas Trails Council. In 2005 Kris received the American Hiking Society Volunteer of the Year award for the Central United States. Kris through-hiked the 223-mile-long Ouachita National Recreation Trail in 2004.

Jim Gifford retired to Arkansas after 25 years in the aerospace industry. He is an avid hiker and trails enthusiast. He is a founder and current President of FoOT. He has been an active volunteer with the Arkansas Trails Council, the Trails Committee of Hot Springs Village, and the Ouachita Mountain Hikers. He was named Arkansas Trails Volunteer of the Year in 2004.


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