Sope Creek expands mountain bikers’ access to 6.7 miles of trails in April
by Geoff Folsom
March 09, 2013 12:01 AM | 5067 views | 7 7 comments | 12 12 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Chris Dusack said he uses the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area for hiking, canoeing and bird watching. But mountain biking is his real passion.

“I’m out there probably two, three times a week,” the east Cobb resident said.

Dusack looks forward to April 5, when the park’s Sope Creek unit will expand access to mountain bikers to 6.7 miles of trails from the current 2.1 miles.

The National Park Service spent much of 2012 working on existing hiking trails to expand them for use by bicyclists, said park Superintendent Patty Wissinger. A grant from the nonprofit National Park Foundation covered $70,000 of the trails’ $80,000 cost. The Southern Off-Road Bicycle Association contributed $5,000, with the National Park Service paying the other $5,000.

“The idea was to improve them so it would be better for both pedestrians and bicycle riders,” she said.

Since the National Park Service has traditionally been hesitant to allow mountain biking on its trails, the plan also meant getting federal approval. Wissinger said the closest National Park site to allow mountain biking is Big South Fork National River & Recreation Area on the Tennessee-Kentucky border.

While the change means hikers will have to share most of Sope Creek’s 10 miles of trails with mountain bikers, Dusack said it could actually be safer for many walkers. He said bicyclists now concentrate on the lone trail now open to them, which runs between Paper Mill Road and the Chattahoochee River.

“If you are walking that section, you might see the same cyclist four or five times,” he said. “Now, with it spread out, there are more places (for cyclists) to go.”

Still, Wissinger said trails could get crowded since more bicyclists could be attracted to Sope Creek, the only one of the Chattahoochee recreation area’s 15 units to allow off-road cycling.

According to the entry for the new trails in the Federal Register, the National Park Service received 205 responses during a public comment period last year, with all but one of them expressing “clear support” for the bicycle trails. The only comment showing concern came from a homeowner who wanted to see the trail made one-way in an uphill direction near their home, because of concerns about speeding bicyclists.

Wissinger said the mountain biking trails will use a system having cyclists ride clockwise on the trail loop on certain days, and counter-clockwise on others. They will advise hikers to walk in the opposite direction of the bicyclists for safety.

To help with the transition, Wissinger said 20 volunteers, wearing special jerseys, will be placed around the park.

“They’ll be out there every day, educating visitors on the rules of the trail,” she said.
Comments
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Get real.
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May 30, 2013
Mike Vandeman,

I cant help but wonder why you are so against people enjoying nature, albeit in a different form than what you prefer. Did you have some sort of traumatic experience with a mountain bike(r)? Was your abusive step father an avid mtn biker?

I love the outdoors, especially the North Ga woods. I also love to ride my bike. While I do not contest that trail riding contributes to erosion and wear I do find myself considering that the impact of trail riding is relatively insignificant.

Take for example in this national forest: When trails get to worn they close them for a long period allowing regrowth of the forest while rerouting the trail. The woods down by the hooch are beautiful and should be shared by all like minded people.

Soap creek has been around for as long as I can remember, trails included. In this time it has seen HEAVY use; the woods are still beautiful and haven't turned into some sort of wasteland. Saying that cyclist are going to turn it into said desert wasteland seems to be a, well, misguided statement.

There are so many valid concerns about our environment and the future of our ecosystems that your battle seems a bad one to chose. It seems that you are hiding behind "environmental issues" to mask your true prejudice which i am not sure what is at this point. What is the real beef? Are you just lashing out at something and this is a good target? From over here, it seems like you are a grouch who gets upset when you have to share the trail. Not too different from those that get mad at road bikers riding on the road if you ask me. I mean seriously, why get upset that you have to occasional move to the shoulder of the trail to allow a bike to scoot by?

Just saying.

I do wonder how committed to the environment on a bigger scale. I guess i question your credibility; If you are truly a green warrior i could hear what you are saying with much less resistance. I ask you this: Do you have a yard with grass? Do you drive a hybrid? do you use public transportation? Do you vote for political parties that have poor history concerning nature preservation? Do you use pesticide? Fertilizers? Use AC and heat year round? Do you fight over development? Do you make an effort to stop new neighborhoods from razing thousands of trees in a matter of days?

I don't expect answers and i certainly don't plan on revisiting this site just to see if you responded. Just felt compelled to stimulate thought and express myself. Now, I hope you and everyone else reading this has a great day as I am about to jam over to columns drive and get my ride on! :D

P.s. I pick up trash before i ride and paddle sometimes just to keep our beautiful river basin beautiful! I would encourage you all to do the same; it doesn't have to be a big affair -- just pick up that coke can and empty box of cigarettes on the way out!
hahaWhat1
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March 25, 2013
Hey Mike your shoes are inanimate as well and have no more rights than a bike. So maybe you should do everyone a favor and put your money where your moth is and just stay off the trails. Can't wait to see people like you at Sope and ride by on my bike with a big smile on my face.
Great job...
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March 12, 2013
Been a while, but nice work in the end.

Also want to say Thanks and encourage our community to support the SORBA people and Blanket's Creek efforts for bike trails- they are great and we should keep them that way.
mk silvercomet trail
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March 09, 2013
Great news for Cobb bikers.

Now some attention needed to make the Silver Comet Trail a more interesting destination & bring it up to its full potential..

Its a great ride for long haul bikers looking to log miles, but for the casual biker, can be quite boring. Out & back.

Would be nice if some sort of loops could be mapped out. Loop around to the south side of the East West Connector . Add boardwalks like Mason Mill Park in Decatur.

Also some destination 'lookout' areas would be nice. Bike paths should take paths down along the water and stream , see Big Creek Greenway, Alpharetta & Azalea Drive, Roswell.

There are also walking trails right past the Cooper Lake Road bridge, that are posted 'no bikes' allowed. That seems to be a good area to add mountain bike trails, like Rope Mill Park in Woodstock.

SCT has the potential to be interesting like the Atlanta Beltline around Freedom Park, 4th Ward Park & Inman Park (connecting neighborhoods, condos, lofts & resturants) but artists, bikers AND tree planters need to be included in the mix.

City of Smyrna should 'partner' w/ creative folks, PATh , Trees Atlanta & Cobb County. Learn from success.

Mike Vandeman
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March 20, 2013
Bicycles should not be allowed in any natural area. They are inanimate objects and have no rights. There is also no right to mountain bike. That was settled in federal court in 1994: http://mjvande.nfshost.com/mtb10.htm . It's dishonest of mountain bikers to say that they don't have access to trails closed to bikes. They have EXACTLY the same access as everyone else -- ON FOOT! Why isn't that good enough for mountain bikers? They are all capable of walking....

A favorite myth of mountain bikers is that mountain biking is no more harmful to wildlife, people, and the environment than hiking, and that science supports that view. Of course, it's not true. To settle the matter once and for all, I read all of the research they cited, and wrote a review of the research on mountain biking impacts (see http://mjvande.nfshost.com/scb7.htm ). I found that of the seven studies they cited, (1) all were written by mountain bikers, and (2) in every case, the authors misinterpreted their own data, in order to come to the conclusion that they favored. They also studiously avoided mentioning another scientific study (Wisdom et al) which did not favor mountain biking, and came to the opposite conclusions.

Those were all experimental studies. Two other studies (by White et al and by Jeff Marion) used a survey design, which is inherently incapable of answering that question (comparing hiking with mountain biking). I only mention them because mountain bikers often cite them, but scientifically, they are worthless.

Mountain biking accelerates erosion, creates V-shaped ruts, kills small animals and plants on and next to the trail, drives wildlife and other trail users out of the area, and, worst of all, teaches kids that the rough treatment of nature is okay (it's NOT!). What's good about THAT?

To see exactly what harm mountain biking does to the land, watch this 5-minute video: http://vimeo.com/48784297.

For more information: http://mjvande.nfshost.com/mtbfaq.htm .
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