Since 1998 a group of our neighbors have been committed to the dream of building a system of trials throughout our communities. They would be there for both recreational opportunities as well as being a part of a viable transportation system. The vision would have the trails connect neighborhoods, schools, commercial centers and parks.
Newton Trails “envisions a healthy, vibrant, prosperous community connected to one another, to nature, to our history, and to daily life through a system of greenway trails.” Have you thought, where do we stand on this fulfilling this vision?
You can walk on some of the vision now. One great example of a trial is the two and half mile Eastside trail that goes from near the Newton County Library to Eastside High School. It is a ten foot wide trail that goes through pasture land and woods. This is a cooperative effort between the City of Covington and Newton County. The County used a state grant to build the trail and the city maintains it.
Another example of a cooperative effort is the trail in Oxford. This is the results of a combined effort by the City of Oxford and Oxford College of Emory University. This is a 1.2 mile, eight foot wide trial that offers a great opportunity for a walk.
One of the new things coming in the next months is a bridge for pedestrians and bikers that will go over I 20 to connect Covington and Oxford. According to Sara Vincent, the Chair of the Board for Newton Trails, this bridge will be built by the state and should happen sometime in about the next twelve months or so. This will be much safer than the present arrangement that forces people walking or biking between Oxford and Covington to share the bridge with cars and trucks.
Porterdale has been active in its support of trails in Newton County as well. In 2006, a 1480 foot concrete loop trails as built along the Yellow River. On December 19, 2015, the new Yellow River Path was opened. This new path is a 12-foot wide paved trail that runes about a quarter of a mile. It connects the Historic Train Depot in Porterdale to the Yellow River Park.
Trail’s Board Chair Sara Vinson points out this is a very historic step for our area. It is the first time that an older railroad bed has been used for a trail. She commented that progress is being made on realizing the dream of turning old railway right of ways into trails. The dream still very much alive to build a trail that will connect Covington and Newborn along a fifteen mile railroad corridor. A third of that corridor is within the city limits of Covington.
You can add to the list of trails in our area the three miles of paved and unpaved trails around the lake at Turner Lake Park. You can walk at Lake Varner, Newton County’s main reservoir on a short trial. You will find a 4.7 mile soft-surface trail at the Charlie Elliot Wildlife Center just south of Mansfield.
To promote future development of trails as well as to get people involved, Newton Trails sponsors a series of events. One of these being the Community Bike Rides each first Sunday at 3 p.m. This is a family friendly 4.5 ride around historic downtown Covington. For the more ambitions you can continue out and back along the Eastside Trail. There is the Quarterly Social, the next which comes on Thursday, January 21st.
Group rides are sponsored outside of our area as well. Place that rides have occurred earlier include the Atlanta Beltway, the Big Canoe Greenway, the Silver Comet Trail, and the Swamp Rabbit Trail, S.C. Future rides are planned for four Saturdays, May 5, June 4, September 10, and December 3. You can get more information on all future plans and events by going to www.newtontrails.org. While visiting the web site you can sign up for the Miles Post Newsletter.
Whether your idea of a trail is a place to walk your dog, or push a stroller, or go for a run, you will find opportunity right here in our area. And the dream of more and longer trails remain very much alive. You can get involved in a variety of ways.
If one of your New Year’s resolution is to get in better shape, then get out and use the trails to walk or run. Or join your neighbors for a bike ride.
I urge you to stay informed about future development and get involved helping our communities to realize the dream of increasing our trail system. Have you ever thought what a difference that will make our future?
B. Wiley Stephens is a retired United Methodist Minister and author who now resides in Covington.