Hikers and mountain bikers turned out for the grand opening of The Creeks Recreational Trail System Saturday morning, June 5. Opening ceremonies took place at the Brownlee Road Trailhead off Brownlee Road adjacent to Jackson Elementary School.
The Creeks provide a path from the city of Jackson, across Dauset Trails and into Indian Springs State Park. The trails were constructed by the city of Jackson and Dauset Trails on lands owned by both, and funded by a $200,000 Recreational Trails Program Grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation and the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, with additional resources provided by the city of Jackson and the Daughtry Foundation.
The celebration Saturday was for Phase 1 of the project, which includes 10.75 miles of trails. Jackson is in the process of seeking a second grant to extend the trail further into the city.
Mayor Kay Pippin said the idea for the trails came about after the city had purchased the land years before.
“We explored it and saw deer and other wildlife, ferns up to our knees, a rock outcropping, ancient trees, and creeks and knew we had to preserve this and make it so everybody would be able to enjoy it,” she said. “The beauty of this project is that it connects some of the greatest assets in this community. It connects the city of Jackson to Dauset Trails Nature Center and to Indian Springs State Park, the oldest and most visited state park in Georgia, while preserving this nature forever.
“This is our niche,” Pippin continued. “We are home to Jackson Lake, we are home to two state parks, we are home to Dauset Trails, the Village at Indian Springs, this phenomenal trail. We have some of the most beautiful nature land anywhere in the metra Atlanta area. And we have water. That’s what we have to offer this state.”
The trail was specifically designed and constructed for mountain bikers and hikers by renowned trail builder Preston York of FlowMotion Trail Builders. The firm of Goodwyn, Mills & Cawood (GMC) provided the necessary engineering services, and Ike English and his staff at Dauset Trails, along with help from city of Jackson employees, constructed large sections of the trail.
The mayor thanked York, GMC, and Dauset Trails among many others, which included the city council, employees and residents, the Daughtry Foundation, the volunteer trails committee headed up by Larry Morgan and Jim Herbert, the Boy Scouts, Frankie Willis, School Superintendent Dr. Todd Simpson, State Senator Burt Jones and State Representatives Susan Holmes, Clint Crowe, and former State Rep. Andy Welch, and Georgia Recreational Trails Program Director Lindsey Brown.
“Most importantly,” Pippin added, “the Muscogee Indian Nation for their support of our efforts to preserve their legacy upon these lands.”
Larry Morgan of the Daughtry Foundation explained their role in the development of the trails.
“The grant was designed for there to be local help, so it was not enough to cover everything,” Morgan said. “The Daughtry Foundation supplied money to build two beautiful bridges over creeks on the trail. Our crews, along with the help of city employees, designed and built the bridges and the last section of trail.”
Ike English, director of Dauset Trails Nature Center, explained more about the trails.
“A lot of you are familiar with the Dauset Trails mountain bike trail system, and the Indian Springs spur that goes over there, and now we’ve got this,” he said. “The whole system is called The Creeks Recreational Trails System. Dauset Trails is a part of that, so is Indian Springs and this trail.
“Most of the trails are named for bodies of waters, either creeks or lakes. Section I at the beginning of the trailhead off Brownlee Road is home to Town Branch Creek; it is a 2.7-mile section out and back, for a total of 5.4 miles. The next section is the Orange section called the Aboothlacoosa Creek loop. It is a 3.95-mile loop. The third second is the Lake Clark loop, and that is just north of Lake Clark Road, which is the next trailhead down. It is 2.3 miles. The loop that is south of Lake Clark Road and abuts Dauset Trails is Sandy Creek loop.”
English said maps are available at the kiosks at Brownlee Road, Dauset Trails and Indian Springs, and added that on the maps is a QR code.
“If you’ve got a smartphone, you can scan the code and you’ll have a map,” English said.”It does not give you a ‘You Are Here,’ but there are other apps out there like Trailforks that will give you a ‘You Are Here,’ and give you by GPS where you are on the map.”
English added that the trailhead will be named after the roads they are on or near in order to make it easier to locate them.
“This is the Brownlee Road Trailhead,” he said. “The one at Indian Springs is the Hwy. 42 Trailhead. The one at Dauset Trails is the Mt. Vernon Church Road Trailhead, and you have the Lake Clark Road Trailhead. They all have 911 numbers on them now, so EMS can get to an actual address.”
He also gave advice to bikers and hikers.
“The trails are green, blue and black. Green is the easiest, blue is intermediate, and black is advanced. We are mostly blue.
“It is roughly nine miles from here to the field at Hwy. 42 in Indian Springs, and roughly the same distance to the trailhead at Dauset Trails. So be prepared with a charged phone and hydration. There estrooms here and at Dauset Trails and Indian Springs.
Following the ribbon-cutting the trails were opened, with mountain bikers heading out first, and hikers following.