Storybook trail at Lake Tomahawk looking for volunteers, fundraising

Karrigan Monk
Black Mountain News
Sally and Steve Cochran, Theresa Fuller and Melisa Pressley have all helped bring the GROW Trail at Lake Tomahawk to Black Mountain.

The Black Mountain Library is “ready to hit the trail” for fundraising on a new feature at Lake Tomahawk, according to Black Mountain Library Branch Manager Melisa Pressley.

In partnership with the Black Mountain Greenways and Trails Committee, the Black Mountain Beautification Committee, the Black Mountain-Swannanoa Chamber of Commerce and the Arbor House Bed and Breakfast, the Friends of the Black Mountain Library are constructing a storybook trail around the lake.

This trail, known as the Greenways Read Out-loud Walking Trail, or GROW Trail, is modeled after other similar trails around the country.

“There are lots of Storywalk-branded trails throughout the United States,” Pressley said. “We thought that something like that would lend itself really well here in Black Mountain to our greenways.”

Pressley said the Black Mountain trail will be specifically based on a Tennessee initiative called Storybook Trail. She said she has always wanted a similar trail in Black Mountain. When completed, the trail will feature stands holding the pages of a book that can be read while walking along the trail.

Pressley brought the idea to the Black Mountain Greenways and Trails Committee where members Steve and Sally Cochran were present. Pressley said the couple “really took it from there” and worked with the various organizations to make the trail a reality.

The Cochrans were able to help identify Lake Tomahawk as a good location for the project, as well as recruiting Jim and Theresa Fuller to the efforts. The Fullers live on the lake and own Arbor House. Steve Cochran said the Fullers provided expertise on what could and should be done around the lake.

“I’m just more of an advocate for paying more attention to our Lake Tomahawk,” Theresa Fuller said. “I think by the library and the Greenways and Trails Committee actually doing the project around the loop is perfect for the children.”

Theresa Fuller said the upcoming trail will be perfect for grandparents who cannot walk very far to spend time with their grandchildren as they can sit and watch the children as they walk the trail and read the book.

The first book that will be featured on the trail is “Hiding in Plain Sight” by local Asheville author Cindy Groce.

“One thing that had kind of slowed us down was trying to get permissions to use the book,” Pressley said. “I was going in one direction with the first selection, but now the focus has kind of become on more local, regional authors.”

Though the first round of this project will focus on Groce’s book, the featured story can be changed.

“One exciting aspect of this is that the panels are going to be able to very easily be changed,” Steve Cochran said. “It will be a series of books, hopefully even seasonally.”

Steve Cochran said the trail is able to move forward because of a “generous donation” from Robin and Tom Stiles in memory of their son Greg.

He also said the project could not have been completed without the support of other town business, including Henson Building Materials, which gave the trail materials to build the stands, and Precision Graphics, which will print the book panels.

Steve Cochran said they are hoping for a Memorial Day ribbon cutting ceremony and are looking for volunteers to make this happen.

Volunteers can expect to construct the page stations and put them in the ground around the lake. Volunteer opportunities are available on Tuesdays and Wednesdays throughout April from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Pressley said a station can be sponsored for $450 that comes with an acknowledgment that will last for two years.

She said she hopes the GROW Trail will bring the community together and help them enjoy reading.

Theresa Fuller said this trail is just another way the community comes together to better the town, especially Lake Tomahawk.

“A lot of things have been done in Lake Tomahawk by the community,” Theresa Fuller said. “This is just one more. The pavilions have been built by the community, the gazebo has been built by the community. … This is just one more feather in the hat for Black Mountain as a town and the interest in keeping things going.”