published Friday, March 29th, 2013

Chattanooga trying for status as 'Trail Town'


by Cliff Hightower
Chattanooga is applying to include several of its trails, including the Tennessee Riverwalk, pictured, and the North Chickamauga Greenway, as part of the Great Eastern Trail. Once the applications are approved Chattanooga would become the first "Trail City" for the newly developing trail system.
Chattanooga is applying to include several of its trails, including the Tennessee Riverwalk, pictured, and the North Chickamauga Greenway, as part of the Great Eastern Trail. Once the applications are approved Chattanooga would become the first "Trail City" for the newly developing trail system.
Photo by John Rawlston.

WHAT'S NEXT

The Great Eastern Trail Association will hold special events April 27 and 28 to celebrate Chattanooga as a Trail Town. There will be a series of scheduled hikes, and a ceremony will be held at noon April 28 at the Amnicola Marsh pavilion on the Tennessee Riverwalk.

A combination of trails could lead to Chattanooga's being named one of the nation's largest cities with a national trail system running through it.

"Chattanooga will be the biggest city by far to be on a trail map," said Linda Hixon, a board member for the Great Eastern Trail Association.

The Chattanooga City Council voted 9-0 Tuesday to apply for certain trails to be designated as the Great Eastern Trail, a series of greenways from Kentucky to Georgia and Alabama. Those trails include the North Chickamauga Creek Greenway and the Tennessee Riverwalk.

Once accepted, the city will be designated a "Trail Town" by the Great Eastern Trail Association.

The Great Eastern Trail will stretch from Florida to New York once completed. Hixon said there are similarities with the better-known Appalachian Trail.

It will encompass a series of under-construction trails, such as the Cumberland Trail and the Pinhoti Trail. Within Chattanooga, a series of trails awaits completion.

The North Chickamauga Creek Greenway will be part of the trail system, but it still has several connections left to be made to reach the North Chickamauga Pocket Wilderness. It still needs a way to cross DuPont Parkway and connect with the Tennessee Riverwalk.

City and county officials are trying to build more sections of the Riverwalk so it eventually links with Lookout Mountain.

Warren Devine, chairman of the board for the Great Eastern Trail Association, said about 74 percent of the trail is complete. He said the trail through Chattanooga will depend upon when the greenways are completed.

"It seems like we're a number of years away," he said.

Larry Zehnder, Chattanooga parks and recreation director, acknowledged there is no completion date set for the several miles of trails that need to be finished. It is a work in progress, he said.

"This is a long-term project, but this is how things start," he said.

Contact staff writer Cliff Hightower at chightower@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6480. Follow him at twitter.com/cliffhightower or facebook.com/cliff.hightower.

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