By Kierra Pixler
The Nolan Creek Nature Trail near the Martin Luther King Bridge was officially opened Saturday. The half-mile nature trail alongside Nolan Creek was opened with Mayor Marion Grayson and 25 others tubed down Nolan Creek near the MLK Bridge.
There are 11 parking places for those visiting the Nolan Creek Nature Trail. This stretch of Nolan Creek is a hidden gem, there is no question. Because of the remoteness near the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor campus, you won’t know where you are once you get past the first bend on Nolan Creek.
Afterward, City of Belton employees used the tubs to let kids go through the rapids behind Coronas Mexican Restaurant. This was such a success that they are considering doing this again. Afterward Parks and Recreation hosted a Movie in the Park with over ¬200 in attendance.
“How did all this happen? It is simply wonderful. Most of these tubes we are using, the kids can use near The Gin. Watching all those people down there enjoying themselves this summer was incredible,” said Grayson.
It will have a bird watching area. Storyboards will be placed throughout the trail system describing the plants, trees and animals.
Crushed asphalt recycled by TxDOT was used to make the four-foot wide trail. It is an eight inches deep, so the trail is here to stay. The City of Belton is going to plant wildflowers along the trail system. There will be flowers for spring, summer and fall based on when they bloom naturally.
Kayaks are big part of Nolan Creek’s white water area. There will be a kayak entry point near the trail. This was part of the white water grant the city received a few years ago.
For decades, Nolan Creek was mostly recognized and appreciated for the ferocity with which it has drained a basin that stretches from Fort Hood to Belton along the U.S. 190 corridor. While the drainage capability of the channel during periods of heavy rainfall remains impressive, the serenity that Nolan Creek offers has never been more accessible to the public, thanks to two recent City of Belton Creek projects: Nolan Creek Flood Mitigation and Recreation Project and Phase Two of the Nolan Creek Hike & Bike Trail.
The 2010 flood came just four years after a new hike and bike trail was constructed near the Creek. The potential of future flooding to that infrastructure, combined with the threat to businesses and residents, led the Belton City Council to search for a flood mitigation solution.
“The flood control project downtown has helped with flooding. We track how high Nolan Creek is above Belton and the level it is downtown. It is working. You add the fact that you can see how much use there is of the creek in the downtown area,” said Public Information Officer Paul Romer. “It is truly a nature trail. It has great access to Nolan Creek at this point. Eventually the trail system will connect with Sparta Road and Belton High School.”
As city staff researched flood mitigation solutions there was also a desire to make Nolan Creek more accessible. The first phase of the Nolan Creek Hike & Bike Trail brought people to within eyesight of the water, but the Flood Mitigation and Recreation Project would bring people to the water’s edge and invite them to navigate through the channel on a tube or kayak. The $521,000 project received strong community support, including $50,000 donations each from corporate partners H-E-B and CGI Group. In addition, Texas Parks & Wildlife awarded the City a $100,000 grant for the project.