By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Newton Trails helping fund one bridge, raising money for another
Continues 2021 work to make Cricket Frog Trail a continuous route through county
Newton Trails
From left, Newton Trails Inc. board members Cynthia Eagan, John McCarthy, Lowell Chambers and John Keck stand in front of the Dried Indian Creek bridge near downtown Covington which is being renovated for use as a pedestrian bridge for the Cricket Frog Trail. - photo by Tom Spigolon

COVINGTON, Ga. — Newton Trails Inc. entered 2022 two bridges shy of creating a continuous paved trail across half the county.

Work recently began on one bridge over Dried Indian Creek which the city of Covington and Newton Trails are jointly funding for inclusion in the Cricket Frog Trail.

However, the nonprofit has begun a fund-raising effort to raise over $612,000 to complete the renovation of the now-closed bridge over the Alcovy River and is hoping grants and private donations will bring in enough money to complete the work within two years, said Newton Trails Inc. Chairman Duane Ford.

Newton Trails Inc. is a nonprofit that includes about 40 “pretty active” volunteers and about 30 additional people who regularly participate on its numerous projects and activities, Ford said.

“We have wonderful volunteers and very hard-working volunteers,” Ford said.

“They’re in it for the trails and what they can do for the community and for themselves,” he said.

Its main project is completion of the Cricket Frog Trail, which is a 15-mile, public multi-use trail built atop the old Central of Georgia Railroad right of way path. 

It currently runs in three sections between west Covington and Mansfield, with long-term plans extending it to downtown Porterdale at its western end and the Jasper County line in Newborn on its eastern terminus. 

Newton Trails contributed $170,000 of the $400,000 cost of refurbishing the 247-foot wooden trestle bridge over Dried Indian Creek, including adding a 12-foot concrete surface for pedestrian use.

The bridge and the trail between Emory and Pace streets were to be completed and opened early this year, Ford said.

It also contracted with the PATH Foundation — builder of multi-use paths throughout Metro Atlanta —for engineering, design and cost estimates for the renovation of the Alcovy River bridge. 

The bridge is about twice as long as the Dried Indian Creek bridge and Newton Trails is working to raise the $612,257 needed for its renovation, Ford said.


Local governments helped the nonprofit’s small volunteer force make significant progress on completing the trail in 2021.

Newton Trails’ 2021 fundraising campaign exceeded its goal of $25,000 and volunteers used the money to resurface and open the West Bear Creek and East Bear Creek bridges, among other maintenance projects. 

They also added new abutments at either end of both bridges, and removed trees and brush along five miles of unpaved trail. 

The vegetation removal work cleared the way for the county government to pave five miles of the trail from the Alcovy River to East Bear Creek in unincorporated Newton, Ford said. The county also installed user-activated crossing lights at Piper Road.

The city of Covington completed paving of the trail within its borders — meaning 12.5 miles of the Cricket Frog Trail now have hard surfaces, Ford said.

Mansfield’s government also committed funds in 2021 that will lead to paving of the unpaved 0.8 miles within its city limits this year, Ford said.

Newton Trails received donations in 2021 for six trailside benches — two of which were installed in 2021 and the remaining benches on order, he said

Donations also were made for eight pet waste stations. Six were installed in the Covington area and two in the Mansfield area — where Nick Forbes built a kiosk for the trailhead at Beaver Park as a Boy Scout project, Ford said.


Ford said he believes Cricket Frog Trail has the potential to attract more tourism dollars to Newton County from recreation enthusiasts throughout east Georgia and Metro Atlanta.

The path runs along mostly flat land, which could attract walkers, runners and bicyclists wanting a change from more hilly area trails such as the Silver Comet Trail in northwest Georgia.

When a continuous route is complete after renovation of the Alcovy River bridge, it possibly could have the same kind of impact on Newton County the Silver Comet Trail had on Cobb and Paulding counties, he said.  

Ford said the nonprofit is working to increase safety on the trail for pedestrians and cyclists by installing bollards in an attempt to keep out motorized traffic like ATVs.

It also is working with the Newton County Sheriff’s Office to provide better security for trail users, he said.

“The more it’s used, there will be less of that problem,” Ford predicted.

He said those willing to contribute to the Alcovy River bridge renovation project can take comfort in knowing the nonprofit has no administrative overhead costs. 

Everyone involved in Newton Trails are volunteers — including those who do legal work for it or maintain its social media platforms, Ford said.