By Emily Le Coz/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – The city’s newest walking and running course, the Music Bend Nature Trail, opens to the public Saturday with a ribbon cutting ceremony and a race.
City officials will dedicate the trail at 9 a.m., followed by a 4000-meter run organized by the Tupelo Running Club. Participants can register online at www.racesonline.com or on the day of the race at the trail head.
Approximately 2.5 miles in length, the Music Bend Nature Trail snakes through the wooded area along Mud Creek and marks the spot young Elvis Presley used to swim. It’s located in east Tupelo with two entrances on Veterans Boulevard – one at the dog park; the other across from the fire station.
The city started planning the project about one year ago and began the actual work in February. It has spent about half of the $50,000 originally set aside for the project. Most went to crushed rock lining the trail.
Other features will come later, including benches, overlooks, bridges and some landscaping, said Tupelo Parks and Recreation Director Don Lewis.
“The trail’s really nice. They did a really good job,” said Mike Lail of the Tupelo Running Club, who is starting a new trail runners club named after the course: Music Bend Trail Runners.
Eventually, the nature hike will tie into another upcoming attraction: the Elvis Presley Birthplace Trail, which is part of the $2.8 million Downtown Main Street Enhancement Project. The Mississippi Department of Transportation is funding 80 percent of the work.
Still in its design phase, that trail will feature sidewalks and bike paths to link downtown to the singer’s childhood home located just off Veterans Boulevard.
Both the enhancement project and the nature trail are aimed at keeping Elvis tourists in town longer, where they’re more likely to spend money and fuel the local economy.
But Tupelo residents will see a direct benefit, too, with more options for biking and walking.