Blazing trails

Blazing trails

August 29th, 2010 by Cliff Hightower in News

Staff Photo by Laura-Chase McGehee/Chattanooga Times Free Press Gabrielle Clark chops overgrown roots and remove debris to clear a path on a portion of mountain bike trails in progress in Enterprise South Nature Park. The group has already completed four miles of trail and hope to complete 10 miles by October 11th.

Gabrielle Clark slowly works her way up the dirt trail, clipping and pulling at inch-thick roots spread horizontally across the path.

Just ahead of her, Carla Hilling clips branches that reach their arms across the trail.

The idea is to have a trail that is almost as smooth as glass for the fat tires of mountain bikes that eventually will glide over it.

"We figured we'd do something good," Clark says.

The Southern Off Road Bicycle Association is busy building about 10 miles of trail in the city and county's newest park - Enterprise South Nature Park. The park is set to open to the public in October and features the area's newest mountain biking trails. The trails also will be open for hikers, SORBA said.

The park sits on the northern edge of the new Volkswagen plant property where, starting next year, cars will roll out daily. SORBA hopes for two-wheeled vehicles to roll over near-wilderness trails daily.

BY THE NUMBERS

* $10,000: Amount of money Volkswagen donated for trails at Enterprise South Nature Park

* 10: Total amount of miles of trails planned in the park

* 3: Number of loops SORBA is building at the park

Source: Southern Off Road Bicycle Association

TO VOLUNTEER

Visit SORBA Chattanooga's website at www.sorbachattanooga.org. A link provided at the top of the page sends you to the group's "Calendar" page for information on the next workday for the trail.

SORBA members said they work 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., usually about two days a month. Trail volunteers must work the entire time because of security concerns in and out of the park.

Source: SORBA

Volkswagen recently gave the group $10,000 to help build the trails, SORBA members said.

Barry Smith, one of two members designing the trails, said SORBA started building the bike trail in fall 2008. The group is going to build three loops, he said. The first one, which is complete, is about 4.5 miles long, he said.

The second one, which is being built, will be about 3.5 miles long, and the last loop will be about two miles, he said.

The trails should be appropriate for riders at any skill level, he said.

But this is just the first phase, he said.

"There's potential for 10 or 12 more miles of mountain bike trail past that," he said.

Last week, a handful of volunteers showed up to help build trails, including members of SORBA and those who were not. SORBA President Jeffrey Schaarschmidt said anyone is welcome to help.

As many as 30 people have come out, he said, but during the hot summer months, it's been closer to a handful.

The group has built trails for mountain bikes and hikers all over the region, from Raccoon Mountain to the Cherokee National Forest. But the Enterprise South trail is the jewel they are concentrating on, Schaarschmidt said.

The hope is to have all 10 miles of trail open by October, Schaarschmidt said. Even then, the trail will probably need a little more tender care, he said.

"It's a work in progress," he said.

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