Enterprise South Nature ParkChattanooga's Enterprise South Nature Park features trails for activities ranging from hiking to biking and has seen nearly double the number of expected visitors this year.
Trails wind through the trees as deer and turkey meander through the woods.
Several trails lead into the forest — one leading hikers to a ridge overlooking a lake, another can be ridden on a bicycle with speed, limbs and branches flying by as the rider bombs down the trail.
Nestled next to the Volkswagen plant, Enterprise South Nature Park opened to the public a little more than six months ago. Already it has been a success, with more than 2,000 people a week visiting the park, said Lee Green, facilities supervisor for Hamilton County Parks,
“It’s about double what we expected,” Green said.
And that has led to a few headaches, especially right after the park opened with 10 miles of mountain bike trails and several miles of walking trails.
Five thousand maps were printed with some wrong directions. Parking was an issue until more spaces were added as the county learned which areas users frequented and the county was able to put up more signage on the trails.
The Southern Off-Road Bicycle Association plans a work day for Enterprise South Nature Park on July 9 at 8 a.m. Lunch will be provided. The work day will be in honor of Southeast Off-Road Bicycle Organization trailbuilder Bill Rogers who passed away in May.
“We didn’t know where people were going and how they were going to use it,” Green said. “We just reacted to the users.”
For example, just a few weeks ago, the county parks department opened a one-way loop road within the park and shut half the road down to bicycle-only traffic. Part of the road had been two-way with bicycles traveling along it, Green explained, so now it is safer.
He said he thinks most of the kinks have been worked out in the park and does not expect any more changes.
Several miles of paved trails and bike lanes for road bikers and the handicapped also intersect the park, and that footprint is only going to expand over the next several years, Green said. Most of the park now sits within the confines of a fenced-in area, but another 1,000 acres lies beyond the fence. Green said horse trails will be built in that area sometime in the future.
More mountain bike trails are planned as well.
Alan Johns, the park’s liaison with the Southeast Off-Road Bicycle Organization, said Friday there are 15 miles of additional trails planned outside the fence.
“The whole outside of the perimeter, that’s untouched,” he said.
The group is now working on finishing a pump track, a continuous loop that can be ridden without pedaling, and building a flow track, which is designed to offer more jumps for bikers, he said.
There are three mountain-bike trail loops now with each catering to different skill levels of riders. The loops also flow in one direction to try to ensure riders do not hit each other on the trail, since everyone from beginners to advanced bikers ride the area, he said.
“We wanted it to be more safe,” he said.
Belinda Wampler, who lives in Harrison, went out walking last week at Enterprise South Nature Park with her two grandchildren. She said they walked the trails and had a picnic. It was the second time she’s been, and she remembers some problems the first time she came in March, but said it’s improved.
“They’ve got a better map now,” she said. “It’s easily marked. You can find your way around.”
Pam Redmon, who lives in East Brainerd and is a friend of Wampler’s, said she walks the park with her dogs about two to three times a week. She’s seen improvements since her first trip in January, she said.
“It seems they are really trying,” she said. “It’s a little gem.”