It’s rare when a community resource can capture the attention of tourists while also being both educational and recreational. The City of Aiken’s Arboretum Trail, recently reopened after being revamped, uniquely ties together all of those aspects, offering the City an extraordinary opportunity to market the trail and bring it to a wider audience.
Running along Colleton Avenue from Chesterfield to Charleston streets, the trail has been modernized and revitalized to cater to residents of Aiken as well as those visiting.
New interpretive plaques have been installed as well as a brochure box with cards that contain general information about the trail. Additionally, a new interactive tour has been developed that allows people to use their mobile devices to learn more about what they are seeing as well as leave feedback for the trail developers.
More than 100 trees are identified on the trail, each marked with the common name of the tree along with the tree’s scientific name.
We applaud the efforts of the City as well as community volunteers to improve the trail, particularly Bob McCartney of the Aiken-based nursery Woodlanders Inc. His hard work even led Mayor Fred Cavanaugh and Aiken City Council to proclaimed Sunday as Bob McCartney Day.
Since 1980, the nursery, which serves an international clientele, has donated and cared for hundreds of rare and unusual trees that now make up part of the citywide arboretum.
Without their planning and due diligence and the work of the City, we would be left simply with a collection of trees. We now have an organized, well-established trail that can draw visitors.
When tourists come to the Visitors Center and Train Museum, they can be directed to the trail, giving them a glimpse of the natural beauty of our community.
It can also be marketed as a fitness resource since it can get people walking outside and seeing our City.
Aiken has one of the most diverse collection of trees found anywhere. The City’s website points out that the oak species and hybrids in Aiken may be the best collection in the country with oaks from around the world being planted.
While a few special trees are hidden away on private properties, most of the collection can be readily viewed and enjoyed by everyone.
With further development of the trail and a well-designed marketing campaign, the trail can continue to develop into one of the centerpiece attractions for our city.