The new Nature Detour Trail located at Jack Dalton Park in Henry County is now open to the public. This natural surface trail, created through a partnership with the Dan River Basin Association (DRBA) and the Rotary Clubs of Martinsville and Henry County, is designed to inspire people to immerse themselves in nature and learn more about native plants.
“This was a vision of DRBA for a long time, and the Rotary Clubs of Martinsville and Henry County really helped us make this a reality,” DRBA Executive Director Tiffany Haworth said at the Tuesday ribbon cutting.
DRBA’s North Carolina Programs Manager Anna Wheeler said it had been on DRBA’s Henry County master plan since 2019. Work began last summer.
The park is used for walking, biking, picnicking and sporting events. Before the trail was built, the experience at the park was fully on pavement, with little shelter from the sun.
The Nature Detour Trail gives walkers and runners an opportunity to step into a wooded area and learn something new about their local environment. Plant markers identify the plants along the trail so people can learn more about what native plants look like.
“It also has an educational component,” Haworth said.
“The Nature Detour Trail adds an exciting recreational opportunity for the thousands of people that visit Jack Dalton Park every year,” said Roger Adams, director of Henry County Parks & Recreation. “We are grateful to the Rotary Clubs and Dan River Basin Association for creating a way for people to take a detour from pavement for a few minutes and enjoy nature.”
The Nature Detour Trail was funded by the Martinsville Uptown Rotary Club, the Rotary Club of Martinsville, and the Henry County Rotary Club in partnership with DRBA and with additional support from David Jones, of Jones & DeShon Orthodontics in Martinsville, and his son, David Jones, of Roanoke Valley Orthodontics.
Haworth said the local Rotary clubs matched a $2,000 grant from Rotary International to make a total $4,000 contribution to the project. The funds, she said, were used to hire a contractor to build the trail, which included the stone walkway, a kiosk to welcome visitors, and the native plants.
Rotary Club members volunteered at the site to construct the trail and plant the native species along the trail.
“Not only did you help, not only did you fund the project, but you also got dirty and got out here and put your hands in the dirt and help make the trail and the plants happen,” said Haworth.
“The Rotary Clubs worked together to make this new trail a reality for the people who live in our community,” said Jim Woods of the Rotary Clubs of Martinsville and Henry County. “We hope everyone gets the chance to walk this short trail and get inspired to enjoy other trails in the region. In addition, we hope that people learn something about the importance of native plants and protection of our natural resources.”
Rotary Area Governor Brad Kinkema said the environment is one of Rotary’s areas of focus. “This is a great addition to the park and serves Martinsville and Henry County. We could also volunteer, which is important to Rotarians, and we could also contribute money.”
DRBA Education Outreach Manager Krista Hodges said DRBA partners with local organizations on projects like the new trail because, “these are organizations that are in our basin. I think getting those organizations involved directly with what we’re doing is the best way to see the community being a part of all of it—everybody being a part of the solution to building these trails, making the county better. Just coming together to get it done.”
“We love this park,” Haworth said, but added that the project aimed to offer a different option for park visitors. “We felt that people who come here may be more accustomed and comfortable being on pavement out in the hot sun and we wanted to introduce people to getting off pavement and into the woods in a very short, safe little stroll, and realize that it can be fun to take a detour through nature and learn a little something about the importance of planting native in our area.”
DRBA helps plan and construct trails, parks and river access points in the 3,300 square miles of the Dan River Basin watershed. To learn more about DRBA and its recreation, education and stewardship programs that protect and preserve our local natural resources, visit www.danriver.org.