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County parks see high attendance

Chilton County’s parks are becoming more attractive to people who are opting to stay closer to home in today’s economy. Both major parks are also offering more options for campers.

Nine new RV campsites at Higgins Ferry Park are 95-percent complete and are already being used by guests, Park Ranger Frank Atkinson said. That makes a total 29 campsites at the park.

Higgins Ferry has taken in about $4,000 since January and is booked solid through Memorial Day.

“I parked three campers in them (the new campsites) last week because I didn’t have any other place to put them,” Atkinson said.

The park charges $17 for sites with sewage hookups but $15 for the new sites because they do not yet have sewage.

Atkinson said a dumping station is available for campers to empty their RV holding tanks. He said the new sites will allow more people to enjoy the park, but he expects them to book up quickly as well.

“For the last five or six years, I’ve had to turn down 30 or 40 people on Memorial Day alone,” he said.

While spring break is not the peak time for lake goers, Higgins Ferry had a capacity crowd this spring break, Atkinson added.

Meanwhile, up at Minooka Park, workers are adding RV campsites as well as multipurpose trails for horseback riding and hiking.

“Right now we’ve got about three miles cut, and we’ve started marking more trails,” Park Manager Gerald Arrington said.

A new mile of hiking trails connects to the mile-long trail that circles the lake’s perimeter, creating a hiking experience that involves both easy walking and more difficult hiking.

Arrington estimated the park has taken in between $35,000 and $40,000 over the last eight months but said that is not indicative of the number of visitors, as hikers and picnickers get in for free.

“We want the park to be self-sufficient,” he said. “In order to do that, we’re going to have to find more areas that generate revenue.”

There are links to information about both parks at www.chiltoncounty.org.