With Mount Kessler now safely in the hands of the city, it’s time to help residents more easily access the several hundred acres of woodland tucked away in southwest Fayetteville.
Construction is underway on a trailhead that will connect the city’s regional park land to about eight miles of hiking and off-road biking trails atop the mountain.
The project includes building a gravel parking lot along Judge Cummings Road with a temporary one-mile soft-surface path that leads to the established trail network.
The city recently closed on a deal with Chambers Bank to buy the 328-acre Mount Kessler woodland, as part of an effort to preserve the area while adding to the 200 acres of city property where a massive regional park is planned.
The $3 million purchase was made using $1.5 million in city reserves and a $1.5 million matching grant from the Walton Family Foundation.
As a condition of the grant, the city agreed to build a trailhead for easier public access to the property.
Jeremy Pate, the city’s Development Services director, said a permanent trailhead will be built once the new regional park takes shape.
For now, the soft-surface trail will lead residents from the east boundary of the park through trees and fields past a clearing where a former landfill is being capped.
The trail, Pate said, will provide a safer route to Mount Kessler than the nearby dirt road construction crews will use while building the park.
Pate said it would be a few weeks before the trail is completed and signs are in place to direct people from the parking lot to the mountain.
The park is set to be built in several phases.
Connie Edmonston, the city’s parks and recreation director, said construction would begin by the end of the year.
The first phase of the project will include soccer fields, baseball fields, a great lawn, a large pavilion, a playground, restrooms, and all infrastructure needed for access to the new park.
Aldermen last week approved a $105,600 contract with Garver, LLC for design and services related to a water line connection to the park from the nearby Mount Kessler water tanks.
Future phases will include more baseball diamonds, softball fields, tennis courts, basketball courts, sand volleyball courts, and a concession stand. A disc golf course, a community amphitheater and some type of water feature – like a splash pad – could come later.