Hikers in Alum Creek State Park now have another option as they look for trails through the woods, thanks to a local Eagle Scout.

Hikers in Alum Creek State Park now have another option as they look for trails through the woods, thanks to a local Eagle Scout.

Two years ago, when he was 16, Jonathan Michael started looking for a project to complete the requirements to become an Eagle Scout. Michael is a member of Troop 318, which meets at the First Presbyterian Church in Delaware.

He asked park officials to see if they had any projects on their wish list.

It was either a canoe ramp or a new trail, Michael said. He chose the latter.

"I wanted a challenge and also thought this would be a fun thing to do," he said.

He also thought it would be easy, but it proved to be far from easy.

"He thought it would take a couple of weekends to complete and it ended up taking a year and a half," said his mother, Candy Michael.

First, the trail had to be identified. Jonathan Michael worked with park staff to find the best route. Then clearing the mile-long trail began. Next came the installation of some PVC piping in culverts so rain water could flow to the lower parts of the park without washing the trail away.

That brought the first big challenge, Michael said, because he needed to get gravel in to cover the pipes. Backhoes were out so he used an ATV with a trailer attached.

Next came last September's windstorm that knocked several trees -- big trees -- down across the trail.

"We went out there soon after and didn't have a chainsaw," he said.

He credits his father, brother and some good friends with helping him complete the project, including three benches placed along the path built by friend Dave Pyles.

The beginning of the path is just inside the park office entrance off Old State Road. Even when it was just trampled down and not cleared, people found it, Michael said.

"It was cool seeing people enjoying the trail before it was even a trail," he said.

The trail was needed, said park operations manager Loren Hart. The path is one of several the park hopes to build in the coming years to complete the trail system.

He hopes other Eagle scouts are willing to do some of the work, and that they bring the same work ethic Michael displayed.

"He was here all the time," Hart said. "This was not an easy project and he took a pretty aggressive approach."

Now the 18-year-old recent graduate of Olentangy Liberty High School and soon-to-be freshman at West Virginia University walks the trail that extends down to Hollenback Road like any other visitor, and feels a certain pride as he surveys his work.

cpreston@thisweeknews.com