The hike down to Martha’s Falls in Little River Canyon is no easy task, but with the help of a crew from North Carolina, it will soon be more easily accessible to visitors.
Trail crew supervisor Will Cole with the National Park Service said the walkway to Martha’s Falls needs improvement because it is the most visited trail in the park.
“This is our heaviest and most accessed trail in the park,” he said. “It’s been a long time coming to get this area worked on. We wanted to do it right, so we took extra time planning it and got an experienced crew in. There will be no comparison to the old trail when we finish.”
The experts who are improving the trail come from a conservation corps group called ACE, or American Conservation Experience. They are based out of Ashville, North Carolina. The eight member crew consists of Alexis Deseze, Lindsay Donkin, Sam Andrews, CJ Peterson, Taylor Hutchenson, Courtney Dodge, Brittany Hardin and Corey Harrison.
“We’re trying to keep the trail as natural as possible,” Cole said. “We’re doing a series of rock steps with crushed rocks in between. A natural creek runs beside it so we are trying to keep it out.”
Cole said the rock steps will not only make it easier for people to walk down to the swimming hole, but it will also help with water erosion on the path.
“From the top of the trail head all the way down to the river there will be a continuous staircase,” he said.
There are two entrances to the Martha Falls trail. The longer hiking route begins near the Little River Falls parking lot, but there is another entrance located off of Highway 35 near road 861.
Corey Collier, a visitor from Georgia, got to experience the new steps as the crew was working on Tuesday. He said the steps were definitely a huge improvement from before.
“I’ve been here before and it was a hike,” he said.
Cole said the Martha’s Falls trail is about three quarters of a mile long and the steep section which the crew is working on is about 3/10 of a mile.
“We get a pretty diverse crowd here, but now it will be more accessible to people who are afraid to come down here,” he said. “It’s definitely a lot safer.”
Cole said there are several accidents at the spot each year during the busy months of summer. He said the new trail will help rescuers get to the area more quickly and it also lowers the risk of falling or tripping down the steep hill.
The crew’s first work day was March 28 and the walkway is set to be complete by April 21.