The Friends

THE FRIENDS OF SANTA FE TRAIL

We are a non-profit organization dedicated to raising funds for capital improvements, programs and operations related to the Santa Fe Trail, as well as generally supporting and enhancing the trail. The group is committed to preserving the culture of the communities it connects and providing a safe, inviting experience for all users. The Friends organization oversees the cultural and safety improvements, including but not limited to native landscaping, lighting, mile markers, bike racks, benches, trail heads and public art.

 


MISSION

Uniting community through active appreciation of green space, the provision of alternative commuting options and respect and reflection of the unique qualities of East Dallas.


FOUNDING of FoSFT

In 2008, Monty Watson and Greg Furman founded the Friends of Santa Fe Trail, in an effort to encourage the City of Dallas (“CoD”) to put a trail in East Dallas allowing local neighborhoods to have a path—similar to the popular Katy Trail—for both recreation and alternative transportation. The CoD had been contemplating the current land (which they dubbed the “East Dallas Veloway”) for a trail since 2006, but hadn’t solidified a plan. The FoSFT co-founders, along with some other like-minded board members, helped to turn plan into action.


THE TRAIL IN 3 PHASES

The first of three phases of the Santa Fe Trail opened in 2009. The first stretch ran from the southern end of Hill Avenue to Glasgow Drive at Randall Park. The second phase opened in 2010 and extended from Randall Park all the way to White Rock Lake. Finally, 2016 saw the third phase open at the southern end of the trail. This last measure extended the trail south from Hill Avenue and included the “T-Intersection” where the trail splits, going east toward Fair Park and west toward Deep Ellum. Currently, the trail spans 4.5 miles from the White Rock Lake trailhead to the end of the trail at Elm Street in Deep Ellum.


Board of Directors

Brad credits his time on the board of directors to his wife. “She started attending board meetings,” he says. So, he did too. Then he tried a volunteer event. “Before I knew it, I was hooked and I wanted to start doing more to try to improve amenities along the trail and safety on the trail.” Brad favors early morning on the Santa Fe and his favorite parts include heading into downtown on the bridge over Haskell (“you get a great view of the skyline”) and Brookside Bridge, with its mural of two cyclists and bike repair station. Getting trail signs completed, funded and in the ground—through the collaboration of so many people—has meant the most to him, but ultimately, he has just one hope for his tenure, and it’s one nature enthusiasts will recognize: “I want the trail to be better when I leave the board than when I started.”

Brad Grist
President

An avid cyclist, Nate wanted to give back to the trail he used so much, with the goal of making it “easier and safer to cycle around Dallas.” So, he joined the Friends Board of Directors where he makes sure projects are thoroughly conceptualized and completed. Nate likes the turn under the abandoned railway (by Tenison Park) and describes it as “lush and cool and is either the start or the end (depending on direction) of one of our little hill climbs.” His favorite memory on the trail is pulling his kids in a chariot behind his bike to the Lindsley Park playground, and he hopes many more people create memories on the trail: “The trail covers so much ground and such a diverse landscape. I want people to see how great it is, and to want to use it on a regular basis not just for exercise, but also for transportation.”

Nate Smithson
Vice President New | Projects & Maintenance Committee Chairperson

After Kristie opened Local Hub Bicycle Company, a full-service bicycle shop in Deep Ellum, she realized when they sent renters to ride on the Santa Fe Trail, there wasn’t signage showing how to get there. So, she signed up to lend her time and experience to help the Friends of Santa Fe Trail make trail improvements. Ever dedicated to increasing ridership along the trail, she led a Tour de Trails in 2018 for more than 100 riders, educating them on how to use the trail system to connect from the Katy Trail to the Santa Fe Trail. Her favorite part of the trail is the butterfly garden (on the south side of the trail, west of Santa Monica) built by Girl Scout Troup 3352. “These girls worked really hard researching then building the garden themselves. The prize was beautiful monarchs flying around that section of the trail.”

Kristie Holt
Board Secretary | Marketing/PR Chairperson

As an investment sales broker of commercial real estate, Tommy Tucker knows how positively impactful a trail system can be to its surrounding properties, neighborhoods and communities. Tommy believes in the value of telling a story. “When I realized the Santa Fe Trail connected White Rock Lake to Deep Ellum, it was like the light bulb went off.” Additionally Tommy appreciated the trail runs through very diverse neighborhoods with rich history. “The light is only getting brighter on the Santa Fe Trail as awareness is building and ridership increases. I’m very grateful to share in the effort to continue its trajectory.”

Tommy Tucker
Master Plan | New Member Committee

Tracking the finances for the board means using them more efficiently to keep the Santa Fe Trail beautiful and safe, and that matters to Barry, who enjoys biking on the trail in the early morning. “It epitomizes the idea of a new beginning,” he says of his favorite time at his favorite place in the quiet, forested area just south of the trailhead at White Rock Lake. Barry’s first memory on the trail is actually when he first discovered it—at the Friends’ inaugural 5K—but he quickly jumped in and has been a keen participant in maintaining his favorite greenspace. He hopes the Friends can continue to add many trees to keep the trail cool all year.

Barry Randle
Treasury/Finance

Jason is a longtime mountain and road cyclist who became a Board member to help promote this underutilized asset as free fitness alternative and safer commuter path. “It has a tremendous amount of potential for connecting a city that desperately needs safe, reliable, traversing in lieu of insufficient biking lanes,” he says. Jason helps identify maintenance needs and opportunities for improvement on the trail, ranging from entertainment to education to safety. He also designed the new trail signs (his favorite project to have participated in so far), promotional and educational materials, and all things Friends. A fitness enthusiast, Jason’s favorite Strava segment is “Santa Fe Climb Section 1” “because it will test your mettle and then flattens out in a corridor bordered by beautiful trees.” He can often be found on two wheels shortly after sunrise, enjoying the sights and sounds of the city and its wildlife waking around him.

Jason Reed
Website Committee Chairperson | New Projects & Maintenance Committee Member | Graphic Designer