The Warlick Family YMCA, which opened late last year, offers its members a host of amenities including two large indoor pools, a plethora of different exercise machines, fitness classes of all kinds, and an outstanding view of Robinwood Lake from just about anywhere in the building.
A great addition to all of that was made in late August, however, with the official opening of the Sytz Trail System in the woods just to the east of the sparkling new facility and its lake.
The trail system is named in honor of Ron and Janet Sytz, Y members who began the work of mapping the trails and clearing brush months before the new Y even opened.
“Our members just love these trails,” said Y Executive Director Michelle Miller. “Even on hot days, the trails are mostly shaded and you don’t have that hot sun beating down on you.”
The trailhead for the system, which includes three connecting loops, is located just off the northeast corner of the Y parking lot. Make a stop at the large kiosk there to view maps of the entire system and see where you’re headed.
But don’t worry, the trails are well-signed, well blazed, and it would be just about impossible to get lost. The three loops include:
GO Gaston Series Continues
The following column by Bill Poteat is the second in a series which will run each Saturday through the end of October and highlight great places to walk, jog, hike and bike in Gaston County. Today, Poteat takes a look at the new Sytz Trail System at the Warlick Family YMCA.
This nearly one-mile circuit, marked with blue signs and blazes, meanders down a wooded slope and along Catawba Creek. Glimpses can be seen just across the way of the Catawba Creek Greenway.
This is the flattest, shortest, and easiest of the three loops and its highlights include the creek views and the forest through which it wends.
This 1.66-mile circuit, marked with green signs and blazes, also goes down the slope toward Catawba Creek but passes by an old rock quarry along the way.
This is the longest of the three loops and also the steepest, with a 64-foot elevation gain along its length. This is also the most remote feeling of the three loops and the one most likely, I would think, to yield some wildlife sightings.
This 1.39-mile circuit is marked with yellow signs and blazes and takes its name from the open area under a power line where it begins and ends.
This trail climbs 56 feet and mainly wends through a mature, hardwood forest.
The trail system is open from dawn to dusk each day.
No bikes are allowed on these trails due to the fragile ecological nature of the area. Walkers and joggers only.
Once upon a time, I would have vowed that I was about to get in shape and jog these trails.
I am now old enough, and honest with myself enough, and these trails are steep enough, to know that is not going to happen.
But, these are great trails that not only offer an escape in the woods but also a more strenuous workout than walking or jogging on a flat greenway would provide.
Although I encountered only a turtle, a squirrel and a hawk, I would think that deer probably frequent these trails in the early morning and early evening and that herons occasionally fish Catawba Creek as well.
One caveat to my ringing endorsement: When I hiked these new trails between 8:30 and 10:30 a.m. on Sept. 5, my arms, legs and shiny bald head served as an open buffet for every mosquito, gnat and fly in Gaston County.
My advice: Let the weather cool and the bugs recede and give these trails a try on a day when the humidity is low, the temp is brisk, and the colors of the leaves are changing.
Trust me, you’ll enjoy them more without a cloud of insect companions hovering with you.
Bill Poteat, who would always rather be outside than in, may be reached at 704-869-1855.