Mountain biking enthusiasts have a new riding opportunity in Calhoun County near the cities of Anniston and Oxford, Ala. On Friday, June 1, 2012, the State Lands Division and partners will open the new public access road, trailhead and phase one of biking trails on the Forever Wild Coldwater Mountain Doug Ghee Nature Preserve and Recreation Area. An opening ceremony is scheduled for noon at the trailhead that day.
Phase one of the multi-year project consists of 11 miles of trail in two loops. A one-mile, easy loop is for less experienced riders or those who prefer shorter distance riding. The 10-mile loop is more difficult and best traversed by bikers with some riding experience.
This project is a result of cooperative efforts from the Forever Wild Land Trust, Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (ADCNR) State Lands Division, Anniston Water Works and Sewer Board, Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs (ADECA), Northeast Alabama Bicycle Association, International Mountain Biking Association-Southern Off-Road Bicycle Association (IMBA-SORBA), Alabama Department of Transportation (ALDOT), Alabama Power Company and the City of Anniston.
The Forever Wild Land Trust and ADCNR State Lands Division have been committed for several years to developing public access on the Forever Wild Coldwater Mountain Doug Ghee Nature Preserve and Recreation Area. Since the project was first discussed in 2009, the State Lands Division and ALDOT have built and paved a roughly 1-mile public access road and Trail Solutions, the trail-building arm of IMBA, has completed construction of 11 miles of trail. In addition to what is already completed, approximately 50 additional miles of trails will be constructed in future phases beginning this fall.
Governor Robert Bentley praised the new trail. “The partnerships created to make this project a reality are second only to the health and economic benefits that will be derived from the trail,” he said. “I am certain this trail will be a magnet to attract mountain bike enthusiasts throughout the Southeast and the nation, and will be a true asset to Alabama and Calhoun County.”
Greg Lein, assistant director for the State Lands Division, said this project is a perfect example of the recreational opportunities the Forever Wild Program is providing to citizens, and it also stimulates the local economy. “This biking trail is state-of-the-art and will bring people to the area just to ride it,” he said. “In turn, they will purchase lodging, gas, food and other amenities. There is also an opportunity for the tract to host bike racing events. Forever Wild projects like this significantly benefit local communities.”