May 13, 2013

Mount Rachel trails near finish

Charles Oliver

— Trail runners and mountain bikers will soon have a place to play right in the heart of Dalton.

Dalton Parks and Recreation Department Director Steve Card says a new hiking and biking trail on Mount Rachel should be finished by summer.

“It is coming along very well. The entire trail has been roughed in,” he said. “We hope to complete the final grade work in the next couple of weeks, weather permitting. And we should be able to have a ribbon-cutting ceremony in the next month or so. It will be the newest leisure opportunity for the city of Dalton and the surrounding area,” he said.

The trail loops around Mount Rachel and Card says the total length is about 1.8 miles.

“It will be marked well as to directions and where you need to go, but it’s basically just a circular trail. There are some gorgeous views at the top,” Card said.

The trail starts and ends on Park Street, just in front of Rachel Street, where the city is building a “trailhead” with several parking places and restrooms. There will be a second, smaller trailhead on Chenille Street.

“There are no restrooms there, just a couple of parking places,” Card said.

Card said the project will cost about $350,000 and has been funded completely through grants from the Georgia Department of Natural Resources and the federal community development block grant (CDBG) program.

“We also had a generous donation of land from Shaw Industries that helped make it possible,” he said.

The project has taken two years to complete, but Card said that most of that time was spent making sure it complied with all state and federal requirements.

“We’ve had many hoops that we have had to jump through in terms or regulations and paperwork,” he said.

The Park Street trailhead faces a planned pocket park on Rachel Street, which is itself part of a larger planned greenway — a biking and walking path — that will link Selvidge Street and Chattanooga Avenue.

Officials say the greenway will have benches and trash cans along its route and will be well lighted.

“The trail and the greenway are something new for Dalton. We hope they will be received well by the community, so we can add to them,” Card said.