Retirees wanted a place to hike, so they built their own trails

When it comes to being young at heart, the residents at Tellico Village are trailblazers.

In 2017, a group of residents wanted hiking trails, but the cost would have been too substantial to take on. They decided to build trails themselves.

“As retirees, it’s great when you accomplish something like this,” said Jim Lilley, a resident and athletics director at Tellico Village. “It’s a great accomplishment.”

The crew building the trails is a mix of gender, age and background, according to Brian Johnson, a new resident. “I’m from Connecticut and I was in IT so no real background in trail building but I’m learning fast. That’s for sure!”

The project was spearheaded by Simon Bradbury, director of recreation at Tellico Village and incoming president of the Tennessee Recreation and Parks Association. Bradbury says while he leads the builds and the hikes, the residents truly lead him.

“I’m 52 and I’ve got folks that are 74 and 76 years old that wear me out building these trails,” he said. “I’m the last one to want to wine when I’m out here and it’s getting tough cause they’re like what’s wrong with you young man!”

Since early 2017, the residents have cleared and built eight miles of trails with the help of public works employees. Bradbury says they already have 20 more miles of trails planned for the future.



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