The Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs awarded the City of Orange Beach a $116,532 grant to construct a new trail at the Sportsplex, and the Orange Beach City Council on Dec. 5 approved matching funds of $41,293 for the project.
The new Interpretive Loop will go around an existing city-owned lake and natural area, connecting the Hugh S. Branyon Backcountry Trail to the Orange Beach Sportsplex.
“We’re very excited about the improvement to the Backcountry Trail this new alignment will permit,” said Phillip West, Orange Beach Coastal Resources Manager. “It’s roughly a 0.7-mile alignment, but it accesses the lake and creates a 1-mile loop from the Sportsplex.
The new loop will be ideal for fun runs, casual strolls while waiting on the games, and will also include a picnic area, West said.
“It will not be paved, but it will be ‘crusher run,’ which is crushed and compacted limestone, and will be ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act)-compliant.”
The trail will connect just south of the existing Sportsplex Trailhead, looping north along the tree-line outskirts of a few ballfields and then around the lake, over three bridges, and connecting with the existing Twin Bridges trail.
"This new trail loop will be a great amenity for our citizens and our many families that visit the Orange Beach Sportsplex each year,” City Administrator Ken Grimes said. “With over 60,000 room nights attributed directly to youth baseball each year, these guest teams will now have more nearby places to enjoy and wait in between games. The connections offer various access points from the Sportsplex and existing trail system with the feature being the lake in the center."
Councilman Jerry Johnson commended the Coastal Resources Department on getting the grant that covers most of the $158,000 project.
“Outstanding,” Johnson said. “That was a great job.”
Construction of the new trail is expected to start next year in late spring or early summer and be complete by fall.