The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

December 27, 2012

Campground, trail provides recreation options

By Kim West
kwest@athensnews-courier.com

LIMESTONE COUNTY — With winter weather alternating between frigid temperatures and icy winds to breezy and almost-springtime conditions, area residents will have ample opportunity to spend time outdoors at recreational areas in Limestone County.

Cowford Campground is scheduled to reopen Jan. 7, while the Richard Martin Trail is open year-round to walkers, joggers, cyclists and horseback riders.

Earlier this month, the Limestone County Commission accepted a $28,000 Recreational Trails Program grant from the state for the Richard Martin Trail.

Mike Nave, director of county parks and recreation, said a majority of the money would be used for trail maintenance.

The 10.2-mile trail is located near Elkmont in the northern part of the county. The trailhead begins at Piney Chapel Road, just off Alabama 127, and winds north to Veto at the Tennessee state line.

“It’s very popular and it gets more popular every year since we completed it several years ago,” Nave said. “We have some areas that have erosion, where it’s weathering and the trail has gotten narrower. There’s probably about 500 yards that’s very steep, and we’ll use a lot of the money to repair that.”

The County Commission also approved a slight rate increase to the sewer-accessible campsites at Cowford, which is located in the Round Island recreational area on 8700 Cowford Road. The campground is closed in December for maintenance, but campsites are available from early January through November.

“From March through October, we’re at 85 percent (capacity),” Nave said. “And during the holidays we’re close to 100 percent full most of the time. We try to always have a lot or two available for people who don’t make reservations.”

The new rates are $19 daily, $120.75 weekly and $336 monthly. The previous rates were $18 daily, $110 weekly and $315 weekly.

Nave said the increase would help offset the cost of providing sewage at 46 of the 48 campsites. All of the campsites have water and electric connections.

“Over the past several years, we’ve been developing the campsites in phases, and the last thing we did was put in sewer access,” Nave said. “The rate increase will help us recover a little bit of the sewers’ cost of the last three or four years and help us with the utilities at the sites getting higher and higher.

“Compared to the parks our size, we’re cheaper than everyone else,” he said.

The campground landing allows for fishing. It also has a sandy beach area for swimming and boat launches with a floating pier. There is also a handicapped-accessible bathhouse and laundry room for campers.

For more information, visit www.limestoneparks.com.