THE Fernleigh Track may be extended to Blacksmiths, which would add a crucial section in the push for a cycleway to loop continuously around the lake.
Lake Macquarie City Council announced in 2011 that the $11 million Fernleigh Track, stretching 16 kilometres from Adamstown to Belmont, was complete.
But the public and officials love it so much they want to extend it.
Cr Laurie Coghlan said the track’s popularity meant extending it was an obvious move.
‘‘Use of the track has been fabulous and overwhelming,’’ he said.
He said extending the track to Blacksmiths would directly link to a cycleway in Swansea and indirectly to tracks in nearby Murrays Beach.
And this extension was on the agenda for this year’s council budget.
Cr Kay Fraser said the Belmont to Blacksmiths route was the ‘‘main priority’’ for the next cycleway project in the eastern part of Lake Macquarie.
‘‘It will connect nicely to Swansea and the plan to have a walkway all the way around the lake,’’ she said.
The council is planning another extension from the track’s end in Railway Parade, Belmont, through Belmont town centre to the lake.
A possible cycleway route followed alongside Railway Parade and Ernest, Maude, Edgar and Sharp Streets.
Cr Coghlan said a cycleway into the town centre was a nice idea, but it should not detract from the main priority of extending the track to Blacksmiths.
‘‘Linking more communities together with shared cycleways and walkways heading south is the best option,’’ he said.
Cr Fraser agreed, saying the town-centre cycleway plan was in its early stages.
The Fernleigh Track follows an old rail line built in the late 1880s and early 1890s.
The line operated for more than 100 years until 1991.