Many longtime Augusta residents have fond memories of Pendleton King Park. Those who attended a special ceremony at the park Nov. 3 reminisced about playing on the old fighter plane, steam locomotive and totem pole or tossing bread over the fence around the pond to feed the ducks.
Those long-gone attractions have been replaced by many new amenities at the park, and another one was unveiled last week – a cross-country trail developed by Norwood “Wood” Dennis Jr. for his Eagle Scout project.
“I always wanted to be an Eagle Scout,” said Dennis, a member of Troop 45 of the Georgia-Carolina Boy Scout Council. “I grew up on Holly Hill Road, and our backyard was on the park fence line. I spent most of my childhood here. And I could always see the park, so I knew I would do something one day for it.”
Dennis took advantage of some trails that already existed throughout the 64-acre park and upgraded them. His 2-kilometer figure-eight design provides two trails that create various training options for walkers and runners. Changing from asphalt to dirt or grass, the trails circle Lake Elizabeth in the lower portion of the park and wind through the gardens of the upper park.
“It’s great because the terrain does change and it’s not all flat. And that’s how a lot of competitive courses are,” said Adam Ward, the cross country coach at Augusta State University who helped with the trail layout. He said his team has already used it several times. “So maybe when we win the conference championship, we can attribute it to this as well.”
The 30 people who attended the dedication walked the lower portion of the trail, passing a large flock of geese and recently planted water lilies in the lake.
“We’ve probably never had a large group of dignitaries like this on our trail, so we appreciate it,” Pendleton King Park Foundation President Jim Blount said. “They are able to see that a lot has been done, but there’s still a lot that needs to be done.”
The trails are clearly marked with red or blue signs showing the direction and revealing the distance traversed. An avid runner, Augusta Mayor Deke Copenhaver said he appreciated the signage because he’s run through the old trails several times and “almost got lost.”
Tommy Anglin, a maintenance supervisor at the park who helped clean up debris and put in the signposts, said the clearly marked trail will be “a big asset to the park” because many visitors want to walk and don’t know where to go.
“I realized how much area there is in the park that is not utilized, and I wanted to bring attention to the trails,” Dennis said. “I’m really hoping that the more people use the trails, the more comfortable they will become with them. And, also, the better quality they will be because the earth will get compacted. So it will have a domino effect.”
Master gardeners who volunteer every month at Pendleton King Park provided refreshments for the dedication ceremony. Kay Mills, who heads up many volunteer projects, said the gardeners appreciate the new trails because they can now post identity signs on many trees in the park.
“We’ve been wanting to do that, but now you can actually find them,” gardener Linda Lawrence said.
Pendleton King Park is privately owned by the Pendleton King estate. The city of Augusta leases the park for $1 a year from the property trustees, the Recreation, Parks and Facilities Department is responsible for the maintenance of the park, and the nonprofit Pendleton King Park Foundation works to enhance, promote and protect the park, according to the Web site.
Located on Troupe Street, the park offers several gardens with walking paths, benches and swings, playgrounds, an off-leash dog park, 18-hole disc golf course, wetlands and trails for birdwatching and spaces for picnicking.