published Thursday, April 25th, 2013

Connect in Chattanooga

Hikes, ceremony mark designation of city as 'Trail Town' on Great Eastern Trail

Ian Green, left, and Cheryl Ridder pass the C.B. Robinson Bridge on the Tennessee Riverwalk, which officially will be added as part of the Great Eastern Trail in a ceremony on Sunday.
Ian Green, left, and Cheryl Ridder pass the C.B. Robinson Bridge on the Tennessee Riverwalk, which officially will be added as part of the Great Eastern Trail in a ceremony on Sunday.
Photo by Staff File Photo /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

IF YOU GO

What: Great Eastern Trail -- Chattanooga Weekend

When: Noon Sunday, April 28

Where: Amnicola Marsh pavilion, Tennessee Riverwalk, off Amnicola Highway

Admission: Free

Phone: 423-643-6888

GUIDED HIKES

Saturday, April 27

• Cumberland Trail: North Chickamauga Creek Gorge State Natural Area; 9 a.m.; meet at Cumberland Trailhead on Montlake Road in Soddy-Daisy; moderate 6.5 miles.

• Great Eastern Trail: Lookout Mountain, 9 a.m.; meet at Cravens House; moderate 3.7 miles.

• North Chickamauga Creek Greenway: 10 a.m.; meet at Greenway Farm, Hamill Road, Hixson; easy 3 miles.

Sunday, April 28

• Tennessee Riverpark: Amnicola Marsh to C.B. Robinson Bridge; 1 p.m.; meet at Amnicola Marsh entrance, Tennessee Riverpark; easy 2 miles.

• Tennessee Riverpark: Amnicola Marsh to Walnut Street Bridge and Outdoor Chattanooga; 1 p.m.; meet at Amnicola Marsh entrance, Tennessee Riverwalk; moderate 4.4 miles.

A celebration Sunday, April 28, at the Amnicola Marsh pavilion on the Tennessee Riverwalk will officially proclaim Chattanooga as the "Trail Town" many residents already knew it was.

The designation of the city will be the first for the Great Eastern Trail, a nearly 1,800-mile-long hiking trail comparable in many ways to the Appalachian Trail. The Great Eastern Trail extends from the North Country National Scenic Trail just south of New York State's Finger Lakes to Alabama's Flagg Mountain, with plans to connect it to Florida.

"The connections have been made for people to hike through Chattanooga," said Ruthie Thompson, events and marketing coordinator at Outdoor Chattanooga. "That's what we're celebrating."

The Great Eastern Trail Association and the Cumberland Trail Conference worked locally with the city, county and National Park Service to create a trail connection between the Georgia Pinhoti Trail at the Tennessee/Georgia state line and the Cumberland Trail on Walden's Ridge, officials said. The Pinhoti and Cumberland trails are already part of the Great Eastern Trail.

The Chattanooga portions of the trail are areas of the Tennessee Riverwalk, the North Chickamauga Creek Greenway and the National Park Service and Lookout Mountain Conservancy trails on Lookout Mountain.

The noon ceremony, located just south of the Chattanooga Association of Realtors office on Amnicola Highway, will involve representatives of the city, county and Great Eastern Trail.

Following the ceremony, at 1 p.m., one of five weekend hikes led by Great Eastern Trail Association members or designees will lead participants on a 4.4-mile journey on the Tennessee Riverwalk from the Amnicola Marsh to the Walnut Street Bridge and the Outdoor Chattanooga building.

There, Joanna "Someday" Swanson and "Hillbilly Bart" Houck, the first through-hikers on the Great Eastern Trail, will present a program on through-hiking on the trail.

Four other guided hikes are scheduled Saturday and Sunday to introduce the public to some of the trail sections.

The Great Eastern Trail has been created by linking regional trail systems. Currently, about 72 percent of the trail is open to hiking.

To allow hikers to complete their journey on the trail through Chattanooga while portions of the area's trails systems continue to be built, an interim route that uses road walks has been established.

Contact Clint Cooper at ccooper@timesfreepress.com at 423-757-6497. Subscribe to his posts online at Facebook.com/ClintCooperCTFP.

about Clint Cooper...

Clint Cooper is the faith editor and a staff writer for the Times Free Press Life section. He also has been an assistant sports editor and Metro staff writer for the newspaper. Prior to the merger between the Chattanooga Free Press and Chattanooga Times in 1999, he was sports news editor for the Chattanooga Free Press, where he was in charge of the day-to-day content of the section and the section’s design. Before becoming sports ...

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