Meeting times

Monthly Meetings : 2nd Tuesday at 7:00 pm CT, Barfield-Crescent Park's Wilderness Station, 697 Veterans Parkway, Murfreesboro

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Jim Schroeder Award Ceremony


By Anna Bertram, Citizen Journalist

More or less his wife told Jim Schroeder of Murfreesboro to “Take a hike!” and he not only did that he went on to become a major hiking trail designer and builder in the state. The year was 1994 and Jim was recovering from a heart attack followed by quadruple by-pass surgery when his wife, Joan, encouraged him to follow his doctor’s advice to get out and walk by referring him to the Murfreesboro Chapter of the Tennessee Trails Association. The state wide hiking organization Joan had seen mentioned in a Murfreesboro newspaper also participates in trail building and maintenance, activities not yet apparent to the Schroeder family when Jim first joined. Right away Jim found he enjoyed getting out in nature to hike with like minded individuals as he gradually rebuilt his strength and stamina for longer and more difficult treks. His doctors were pleased with his overall condition and especially his improved heart function.

As Jim became stronger and increasingly fit he began to volunteer to help with trail maintenance and trail building. The non-profit Tennessee Trails Association is the parent organization of the Cumberland Trail Conference, which is responsible for the building of the 300-plus mile Cumberland Trail, the hiking trail corridor of the linear Justin P. Wilson Cumberland Trail State Park. When fully completed this trail will run from Signal Mountain at Chattanooga to the Cumberland Gap at the Tennessee - Kentucky State Line. The Cumberland Trail Conference is active all through the year working on the trail corridor, including hosting a 5 or 6 week alternative spring break program for building trail, called BreakAway. College students come to BreakAway from many states in the country to lend a hand as they learn. Jim has taken part in 14 of the 15 years of BreakAway since he joined, mentoring young people and teaching them good trail building techniques. The one year he missed was due to his having another heart procedure, from which he bounded back quickly due in part to the health benefits he experienced from his outside activities.

One thing led to another for this retired engineer. Applying principles adapted from his former profession Jim demonstrated an outstanding ability to plan and lay out trails. This has become a passion for Jim, whether he is working on his beloved Cumberland Trail, a State Natural Area or a city park. In fact he designed and laid out the popular trails in the Barfield-Crescent Park in Murfreesboro, and many others in Middle Tennessee.

One of his recent accomplishments was to find a feasible connecting route through Chattanooga for the multi-state Great Eastern Trail, which will connect to the Cumberland Trail at Signal Mountain. There will be a commemorative sign with his name at the junction of the two trails.

So on the occasion of his 80th birthday this talented but unpretentious man was honored January 12th with a surprise luncheon and awards ceremony at Cumberland Mountain State Park following a board meeting of the Cumberland Trail Conference. Jim’s supportive wife, Joan, sat proudly beside him. His close friend, hiking buddy and trail working companion, Martin McCullough, also of Murfreesboro, was seated nearby.

There were three separate awards presented. The first was his election to the newly formed Cumberland Trail Conference Hall of Fame as the first honoree. The second was a certificate of recognition by Ron Littlefield, Mayor of Chattanooga, for his routing of the Great Eastern Trail though that city and community. The third was from the Great Eastern Trail Association for his outstanding support.  Of course there was also a large birthday cake decorated with a hiking trail motif.

Jim, who has since undergone knee surgery, says he had planned to be back on the trail in time for the spring BreakAway program but due to respiratory complications his return will be delayed a few weeks. For more information about the Murfreesboro Chapter of the Tennessee Trails Association send an email to The state website is located at


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