Road to trail was a long one for HJC

Published 12:01 am Sunday, July 24, 2011

ERIC SHELTON/THE NATCHEZ DEMOCRAT — Tyler Campbell, 13, walks past the T.J. Foster Memorial Nature Trail sign at the Historic Jefferson College after its grand opening Saturday morning.

NATCHEZ — Enjoying nature at Historic Jefferson College can be educational now, too.

Fifteen informational signs were placed along the three trails on the college’s land, so hikers can learn about the plants and animals they encounter while they enjoy them, Historic Jefferson College Branch Director Robin Person said.

Saturday celebrated the end of the two-year long Rural Trails Project, and almost 20 people attended the event.

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The project, which was funded by a $10,000 grant from the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks, with an additional $5,000 provided by the Mississippi Department of History and Archives, was supposed to have been finished a year ago, Person said, but it just kept falling behind.

“There was one obstacle after another,” she said.

The trail winds through the woods around the property.

For example, Person said, finding photographs was a challenge, and then finding photographs she could legally use was more of a challenge. A few times, she said, the sign makers couldn’t convert the initial designs she came up with to the proper format go on the actual signs. Person also said she was in a car wreck that left her unable to work for six months.

Susie Roy, a Master Gardener volunteer and a photographer, took some of the photos that were used on the signs.

“I love it out here,” she said Saturday. “People can come by and if they see a bird, they can immediately look at (the sign) and it gives a lot of information.”

The new trail, the Pond Trail, also features a new geocache, Person said.

A geocache can be any type of box filled with treasures — small trinkets like poker chips, plastic animals and postcards — as well as a logbook. The box is hidden, and its coordinates are registered on

The box can be found by using any sort of GPS system, and when it’s found, the people who find it sign their names in its logbook as a record of their having found it.

Person said including the Pond Trail’s geocache, there are six on HJC’s grounds.

In the future, Person said, she’d like to see more signs added to the trails, including historical signs about the location itself, as well as more benches and stairs added within the trails. The trails are open every day from sunup to sundown.