A grant from REI will help fund the design of a network of mountain bike trails at Chattahoochee Bend State Park, and a project kickoff meeting will be held Aug. 31.
The Atlanta chapter of the Southern Off Road Bicycling Association (SORBA) has been awarded a $30,000 grant from the outdoor retail giant to work on trail plans at Chattahoochee Bend and Southside Park near Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport. Each project will receive $15,000.
The Friends of Chattahoochee Bend and the Georgia Department of Natural Resources funded a conceptual plan for the trail network, and now it’s time to begin the design work.
“That’s when they go out and start flagging trails,” said Terri Palmeri, associate regional director of the southeast for the International Mountain Bike Association. SORBA is the southeastern affiliate of IMBA.
The conceptual plan shows 44 miles of trails, in four different areas – or zones– of the park. Some trails will be designed for beginners and families, while others will be for experienced riders.
“I think it would be something great to have here at the park,” said Park Manager Erin Kenner. “There is a lot of interest in something like that. We’re excited that it’s a possibility.”
The Aug. 31 meeting will be an opportunity for interested members of the public to get information and get involved. It will be held at the Newnan Centre at 6 p.m.
Topics to be discussed at the meeting include the timeline for trail development, project funding, local economic impact, the Georgia Interscholastic School Cycling League and ways for individuals to get involved. The meeting will be hosted by SORBA Atlanta and the Bend Friends.
Representatives from Chattahoochee Bend will be meeting with the cycling league to discuss holding a high school cycling event at the park, once the trails are built, according to Chris Doane, a board member of the friends group and an avid cyclist.
“This is a big project, and we’re very excited about it,” said Palmeri, who applied for the REI grant. IMBA Trail Solutions, the design arm of the International Mountain Bike Association, did the conceptual plan and will do the design work.
Although the trails will be built for mountain biking, they will be open for hikers and trail runners as well.
“it’s a very comprehensive plan,” she said of the concept. “With this amount of mileage, this is going to be a regional destination. Folks here in the Southeast will travel there and stay there. They’ll have a couple of days worth of riding.”
The $15,000 grant won’t cover the entire design cost but “it can do quite a bit,” Palmeri said.
She said SORBA is going to be working with the state government “to see if we can start getting the state to start funding these trails. It’s a huge economic driver,” she said. It’s a great way to get young people involved in outdoor recreation, she added.
Mountain biking has something for all ages, Palmeri said. “It’s a lifetime sport. I know mountain bikers in their 80s who are still going strong.”