Don Bringle column – County's park system offers variety of recreational opportunities
This is part of a continuing series describing services provided by Rowan County government.
By Don Bringle
For the Salisbury Post
Rowan County Parks and Recreation operates five parks located throughout our county. The park system began in 1968 with the building and developing of Dan Nicholas Park and has grown over the years to provide recreation and learning opportunities to our visitors.
Therapeutic Recreation provides a comprehensive program for individuals with disabilities and year-round fitness/wellness for seniors. This is accomplished, in part, by providing recreational programs that will enhance socially acceptable characteristics and personalities as well as develop good habits of physical fitness, awareness of the arts and constructive use of leisure time.
Senior Games is a year-round quality recreational experience for adults age 55 or older. Participants may choose from more than 20 events and practice throughout the year. Each spring, adults compete in sanctioned games that are held in our county which qualify the winners to advance to the State Senior Games in the fall. The Silver Arts portion of the Senior Games is a vital part of the well-rounded competitions available for seniors. Categories available for competition are Visual Arts, Literary Arts, Performing Arts and Heritage Arts. These programs serve approximately 1,000 clients with participation rates in excess of 800 monthly. These two services are available at our Ellis Park location.
Ellis Park was developed at the old Ellis School site in the Franklin Township. The park provides the community a recreational experience located on 26 acres. Ball fields are used by youth and adult leagues. Ellis provides a banquet hall with a full kitchen that is available for rent, along with a large game room to have birthday parties. Ceramics and Karate classes are offered at the site. Outdoor recreation is provided with a large playground for all ages of youth, tennis courts, volleyball and bocce.
The park provides shelters and grills for outdoor enjoyment. There is an Equestrian Event Center used by the community and service clubs.
Sloan Park is located in the southwestern part of Rowan County and offers the ideal passive recreational opportunity for families, schools, church groups, service organizations and businesses. The park is located on 100 acres of land and includes three miles of trails, five picnic shelters, volleyball courts, a softball diamond and playground. The Henry Culp Jr. Historic Tree Trail provides a half-mile journey through our nation’s past. The Alice Stanback Monument Trail provides a lovely garden setting where living monuments in the form of trees and flower beds allow patrons to honor a loved one. Our greatest gem in the park is our Kerr Grist Mill, an 1823 grist mill that houses a museum of early Americana artifacts.
Dunn’s Mountain Nature and History Preserve is our newest park and offers a walking trail to the top of the mountain. The view from the top will allow a visitor to see the local countryside and the mountain ranges that surround our county. On an exceptionally clear day, the visitor can see Grandfather Mountain and Pilot Mountain. There are picnic tables at the top and a staff who can assist and answer questions. This park operates on a varied schedule and weather permitting. Staff provides transportation to the top only on weekends. There are guided trail walks throughout the year that are advertised. Be sure to bring your camera and binoculars and enjoy a day at Dunn’s Mountain.
Eagle Point Nature Preserve is a passive park sitting on 100 acres of land located below Dan Nicholas Park off Bringle Ferry Road. This park consists of a variety of forest types that are typical to central North Carolina and is entirely forested. The trail system was designed as three back-to-back loops. The trails total more than four miles of hiking. Bald eagles use the waters that adjoin the land as fishing grounds. Great blue herons, egrets, kingfishers, barred owls, wild turkey and waterfowl are commonly seen, along with white-tailed deer and raccoons. The preserve provides a canoe portage to High Rock Lake. The park operates on a varied schedule and weather permitting.
Dan Nicholas Park is considered a destination park that offers a variety of activities to all visitors. The park sits on 425 acres of land and has a 10-acre stocked fishing lake. The park provides a family campground with water and electrical hookups. Six cabins are available for rent. The park provides camping opportunities for group camping in a different location from family camping. There are several hiking trails, basketball, volleyball, horseshoes and ball diamonds. There are 17 shelters and picnic tables available for use. Spencer Moose Gem Mine allows a visitor to pan for minerals and have these crafted into jewelry. Paddleboats and a splash pad offer enjoyment and a chance to cool off in the heat of summer. Haden’s Carousel and Hurley Train Station offer rides to visitors at a low cost. The park has a large playground that offers enjoyment to all ages of young children. Nicks Playground provides access to all children and is ADA compliant.
Rowan Wildlife Adventures is a must-see while at the park. There are exhibits of bald eagle, black bear, red wolf, bobcat, white-tailed deer and many types of birds. The T.M. Stanback Petting Barn is a showcase of barnyard animals and fowl. Be sure to visit www.dannicholas.net to see what activities and events are taking place and to view the bears, red wolf and take a virtual tour of some of the amenities this park has to offer.
Accept this offer to visit our county parks to enjoy the beauty of the seasons and the recreation provided. Our parks information can be found on the county Web site, www.co.rowan.nc.us. Operating hours are posted for each park, as well as events that are taking place.