Chattahoochee volunteers start work May 17 on new bike trail network for park

The Friends of Chattahoochee Bend State Park are about to begin another venture. This time the group is at work with the initial construction of what will become more than a dozen miles of mountain bike trails spread throughout the nearly 3,000-acre state park.

The work begins today (May 17), with volunteers meeting at the visitor’s center on Bobwhite Way. Those interested, either with the initial effort or the ongoing project as it unfolds, can contact Vicki Kaiser at vicki.kaiser7@hotmail.com

The 12-plus mile bike trail system at Chattahoochee Bend will feature a number of interconnected loops offering multiple experiences for riders of all abilities.

“We’re excited about getting started with the bike trails,” said Friends chapter president Steve St. Laurent. “Having bike trails at Chattahoochee Bend will provide a desperately needed trail system on the southwest side of Atlanta and a big benefit to mountain bikers from all over our state. They will be a huge benefit to the cyclists in our area.”

Friends board member Vicki Kaiser is organizing the park’s bike trail efforts and expects that, once built, the bike trails will be a strong draw for Chattahoochee Bend.

“Cyclists will come from all around the region to ride these trails, just as the road bikers come to Coweta to ride on the quiet country roads,” she said. “I am really excited about starting work on the trails. Building them ourselves means that we will have exactly the kind of courses that we want to ride.”

The course for Chattahoochee Bend’s mountain bike trails was scouted and flagged by experienced riders who were trained in IMBA (International Mountain Bicycling Association) trail-building standards. Over the past year the course has been reviewed and adjusted by an IMBA trail specialist, park management, and the Georgia Dept. of Natural resources, which recently approved the start of construction, said Friends board member Dean Jackson.

“The DNR, consultants and Friends volunteers have worked to get approvals for the mountain bike trails and they’re going to be a great series of courses,” said park manager Tim Banks. “The scenery will be awesome, with trails running through towering hardwoods to spots near the Chattahoochee River where riders can see our resident bald eagles.”

Banks said the trails will be dedicated to mountain bike single-track use with sections for beginners to advanced riders. The park’s existing Trailhead 2 will serve as the trails’ main entrance point and will be developed with maps, changing stations and summer showers for users.

“There will be a bike maintenance bench with tethered tools and compressed air to get your bike ready for the trail. There will be a bike cleaning station as well so you can clean yourself and your bike when you come off the trail,” Banks said. “We are working with SORBA (the Southern Off-Road Bicycle Association and IMBA and our Friends organization to garner community support, funding, volunteers and event sponsorship for the new trails.”

At 2,900 acres, Chattahoochee Bend is Georgia’s fifth largest state park. The local “Bend Friends” chapter has built, improved and currently maintain more than 11 miles of hiking trails at the park and has built improved trailheads, kiosks, trail bridges and made other improvements at the park with the help of volunteers, businesses and civic groups.

The Friends chapter has also provided increased access for paddle sports along the park’s five miles of Chattahoochee River frontage and is looking forward to increasing access for paddle sports at park land at BushHead Shoals (south of the current park) and beginning work on more than 11 miles of equestrian trails at the park, Jackson said.