By David Jenkins
Can you guess what spans 130 miles and 19 towns?
Give up? It is the Chaparral Trail, which starts in Farmersville and ends in New Boston.
Start your journey by foot, by bike or by horse in downtown Farmersville by the Onion Shed at the Audie Murphy Trail Head sign.
After you leave Farmersville on the trail, you pass through Merit, Celeste, Wolfe City, Ladonia, Pecan Gap, Ben Franklin and Roxton.
If departing from New Boston you would go through Malta, DeKalb, Avery, Annona, Clarksville, Bagwell, Detroit and Reno.
The midway point is the Trail de Paris in Paris.
Counties that the trail runs through are Collin, Delta, Fannin, Hunt and Lamar.
Trail de Paris is part of the NETT. When completed, that trail will be the fifth longest in the United States.
Note: Below is a history of the Chaparral Trail, which was compiled from a May 2012 article in The Farmersville Times by News Editor Wyndi Veigel.
Area residents can now traverse even more of the Chaparral Trail as another eight miles has been added. The Rails to Trails Corporation cleared it out from Merit to Celeste.
Currently, the Chaparral Trail, which is 56 miles long and stops just short of Paris, offers hikers, mountain bikers, walkers and even equestrian lovers a place to play, have fun and relax.
About five miles of the trail is paved, either with concrete or asphalt, and the city of Farmersville is currently working to cover additional miles with decomposed granite.
The most recently cleared portion of the trail, about 8 miles, according to Rails to Trails President Joe Barton, was cleared, grated and compacted to make a safe surface for people to use. Though it had already been in the plans for Rails to Trails to clear the new section of trail, the condition of the trail was brought to their attention by Mike Lewis, a Hunt County resident, who spoke to the Hunt and Fannin County Commissioners Court on the subject.
After photos were presented, the Rails to Trails board decided to move forward, with a price tag of $38,500, and clear the trail from Merit to Celeste.
The next order of business for the Rails to Trails board is to install bollards or crossings at all of the road crossings along the trail. Currently, the city of Farmersville owns about 5 miles of the trail, which was purchased from Rails to Trails for $10.
Cleaning of the trail has been taken over by many volunteer groups including the Boy Scouts, church groups and even geocachers. Legally, the right-of-way easement for the trail extends from the centerline of the trail 50 feet in either direction. Anywhere outside of that area is considered private property.