Volunteers build bike trails at state park
More than 30 volunteers turned out on a recent Saturday to build the first mile of mountain bike trails at Chattahoochee Bend State Park in western Coweta County.
“We had a great first day,” said Vicki Kaiser, the Friends of Chattahoochee Bend State park board member who organized the start of bike trail construction at the park. “A very diverse group of volunteers showed up – road bikers, mountain bikers, athletes, entire families.”
Volunteers cleared and began sculpting a segment of the trail’s first loop, from the park’s Trailhead 2 station during the May 17 workday. It is the first part of up to 13 miles of interconnected, single-track loop trails that will constitute the first phase of the park’s mountain bike system, said Friends spokesman Dean Jackson.
More bike trail volunteer days are also planned at the park, for Saturdays May 31 and June 21. Volunteers will gather at 9 a.m. at the park’s Trailhead 2 site, one mile past the Visitors Center on Bobwhite Way. Those interested can visit the Friends website at www.bendfriend.org to find out more, or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
To follow up the successful start of mountain bike trail construction, Friends of Chattahoochee Bend State park also welcomed officials from the International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA) and the Southern Off-Road Mountain Bicycle Association (SORBA) on Wednesday at the Newnan-Coweta Chamber of Commerce offices on Bullsboro Drive at Farmer Street.
Annabeth Purcell, president of the West Georgia SORBA Chapter, and Terry Palmeri, IMBA associate region director, met with Chattahoochee Bend Park Manager Tim Banks, Georgia State Parks Region 3 Manager Eric Bentley, Friends members and volunteers to discuss the planning and construction of the park’s trails.
“I have been amazed at how much work has been done already on these trails,” said IMBA’s Palmeri.
Palmeri said that the planning, state approval and trail-building on the recent Saturday has provided a “a great start” to Chattahoochee Bend’s mountain bike system.
Park system regional manager Eric Bentley said that the Friends of Chattahoochee Bend “have been a very solid Friend’s Chapter,” and thanked the group for providing volunteer organization for all aspects of the park’s development and support.
Palmeri gave volunteers a presentation on the planning, training and trail-construction support offered by IMBA and SORBA. She urged Friends volunteers to join West Georgia SORBA to better take advantage of the group’s resources.
Palmeri also reviewed some of the work that has been done at Anniston, Alabama’s 4,000-acre Coldwater Mountain Park, which features 25 miles of trails built under the direction of IMBA Trail Solutions. Up to 75 miles of bike trails are scheduled to be completed at Coldwater by 2017. The park has earned a bronze-level rating by IMBA. Palmeri said that the trails are a great experience for bikers, and have become a heavy tourism draw and economic boon for Anniston.
Park Manager Banks said that the group’s expertise would benefit the Friends’ trail-building plans. “We have the land, and they have the expertise,” he said, adding that the groups could provide invaluable training for the local volunteers who will build the trail system.
Friends members told Purcell that the chapter would work with her to establish a Chattahoochee Bend connection with West Georgia SORBA.
Chattahoochee Bend’s bike trail system is approved for 13 miles of interconnected trails, providing courses for beginners and expert riders. The volunteers who turned out May 17 began building along a mile segment of the first loop that departs Trailhead 2 at the park. The trailhead will be developed with trail maps, tethered tools and compressed air, a bike cleaning station changing stations and summer showers for users.
Banks presented the park’s long-range development plan over lunch, and led volunteers on the first guided bike tour in the park afterward.
“This is the park that volunteers built,” said Banks, noting that volunteers and local entities strongly supported the park’s development, and have built hiking trails, helped develop the park’s canoe and kayak resources, helped flag and win approval for future biking and equestrian trails, and made other improvements at Chattahoochee Bend over the past five years.
Chattahoochee Bend State Park is located on Flatrock Road in western Coweta, six miles north of Georgia Highway 34 and Powers Crossroads. The park is Georgia’s fifth largest state park, with 2,900 acres of varied natural land and five miles of frontage along the Chattahoochee River.
The Friends of Chattahoochee Bend State Park was organized in January 2009 – before construction of the 2,900-acre Chattahoochee Bend State park began and two and half years before the opening of the park in July 2011. The Bend Friends are the only Georgia Friends chapter formed before the opening of their park.
In addition to the May 31 and June 21 mountain bike workdays, the Friends chapter will hold its Annual Meeting at the park on June 7, at 1 p.m., following a hiking trail workday at the park that morning. All Friends members are invited to join the meeting. Those interested in joining the Friends of Chattahoochee Bend State Park, or participating in the upcoming biking or hiking trail volunteer days, can find more information at www.bendfriend.com .