Chickasabogue Park held a special place in the heart of former Mobile County Director of Parks and Wildlife Ron Jones.
Jones, who died six years ago, met and married his wife at the park in Eight Mile and loved to spend time out amongst the natural beauty. He envisioned the park with a trail for boaters that could connect the county’s recreational areas, and Monday a group of his friends, family and county officials met to unveil the beginning stage of that vision.
“He would be very thrilled,” said his widow Linda Jones. “He loved it out here.”
The county opened and dedicated the three-mile Ron Jones Paddle Trail, which links Chickasabogue Park to William Brooks Park in Chickasaw via Chickasabogue Creek
“The goal is to give people the tools to enjoy our pristine delta waters and to promote healthy activities in Mobile County,” Commissioner Merceria Ludgood said in a statement. In 2012, she helped push for the funding of the trail, along with George Crozier, retired Dauphin Island Sea Lab director.
Crozier, who worked as the lead consultant on the project, said it began after he was commissioned to do a study on inland access to the bay. As a result of that study Crozier recommended there could be an opportunity to provide more access through William Brooks Park, which he described as a “mess” at the time. The paddle trail, which sprung from that initial idea was a “perfect opportunity to have the city and county work together,” Crozier said.
“It enhances local recreational opportunities,” he said. “It’s also very attractive and will attract visitors from other parts of the state. I think we’ll see people come here from outside our community.”
The trail features interpretive panels that give a history of the creek and the two parks it connects. Decorative directional signs have been placed in the water along the route. Signs will also provide information on fishing trails along the way, according to a statement.
The round-trip excursion takes about three hours to complete, Crozier said.
Ludgood said while she helped to secure the funds for the project, Chickasaw provided the labor. She said the trail is the first phase in an effort to link more of the parks in the county.