A 10-year-long effort to build the Cloudland Canyon Connector Trail is one bridge away from being finished.
The Lula Lake Land Trust has taken delivery of a 6-foot-wide reinforced fiberglass bridge that it hopes to have in place by the end of the year over Bear Creek. That will finish the roughly 14-mile-long hiking, biking and horse-riding trail on Lookout Mountain that runs from Nick-A-Jack Road to Cloudland Canyon State Park.
"We're in the last phases of it," land trust director Tricia King Mims said. "It's been a 10-year project."
The $55,000 bridge, which was funded with grants from the Chattanooga-based Lyndhurst and Riverview foundations, will have wood decking and will support the equivalent of 33 horses or 45 all-terrain vehicles or 110 people when it's finished, land trust board member Mike Pollock said.
He expects the bridge to be dubbed Boatman's Crossing after Boatman Creek, which feeds into Bear Creek and which he said used to be home to a mill and a baptismal hole.
"I just thought it was a cool name," Pollock said.
Can't Hardly Seam Trail
On Friday morning, a land trust work crew was working on a footbridge on the Can't Hardly Seam Trail, one of about 36 miles of loop and spur trails that come off the Cloudland Connector Trail. It's for hiking only, not mountain biking or horse-riding.
The footbridge consists of a single oak log that weighs about 2,600 pounds that was gently moved into place using a cable system.
Armed with a chain saw and an axlike tool called a Pulaski, a crew of three workers was leveling the top of the log to make a walking surface.
Later they'll rig handrails made of wood gathered on site.
The single log bridge is unique in the land trust's trail system. "It's the only one like this," Pollock said.
It's set above the water mark on the nameless creek, Pollock said, and it should stay in place.
If not, he said, "It's expendable. It's just a tree."
The Can't Hardly Seam Trail got its name from a nearby coal-mining operation that the Durham Coal and Coke Co. ran in the late 1800s and early 1900s.
"They had a very difficult time getting through the cap rock. So they called it 'Can't Hardly,'" Pollock said. "We're trying to put some local flavor [in trail names]."
Contact staff writer Tim Omarzu at email@example.com or 423-757-6651.
Tim Omarzu covers education for the Times Free Press. Omarzu is a longtime journalist who has worked as a reporter and editor at daily and weekly newspapers in Michigan, Nevada and California.