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6 December 2007
JSU Field Schools Coordinator
Presents Overview of Chief Ladiga Trail
Projects Future Interpretive “Trail Rides”

By Renee S. Morrison
Jacksonville State University
Weekly Column - Town and Gown

Reprinted here in its entirety.

I want to ride my bicycle...all the way to Georgia!

“Hail to the Chief, the trail is complete,” says a smiling Pete Conroy, Jacksonville State University’s EPIC/Field Schools Director and lead architect of the Chief Ladiga Trail. “Now you can peddle your bike from the Michael Tucker Memorial Marker in Anniston, Alabama through two counties all the way to the Georgia state line.”

Cycling across Northeast Alabama brings to mind herds of men and women dressed in black spandex with racing helmets whizzing along at breakneck speeds, but this is not so common on the Chief Ladiga Trail. One may encounter a few professional cyclists; however, you are more likely to see families, senior citizens, and university students on wheels that range from old rusty ten-speeds to rollerblades to sleek new cycles or old-fashioned tandems. You may even encounter an occasional (and illegal) mule!

Conroy says that the trail, one of EPIC’s major projects, is spectacular because it connects people.

“You know you have a great project when you pass a farmer from Piedmont chatting on the trail with a student from Pakistan,” he said.

The variety of people using the trail is unlimited. The diversity of the thirty-three mile trail itself is impressive as it bisects wetlands, farms, fields, forests, historic areas, and several towns. However, the biodiversity along this ribbon of access is incredible.

The JSU Field Schools, another primary EPIC project, receive several phone calls each day pertaining to the Chief Ladiga Trail. Along with questions and compliments about the trail, visitors have reported seeing the usual wildlife such as deer, turkey, beavers, and raccoons. However, some amateur naturalists have spotted the more uncommon creatures – an indigo snake, a red-cockaded woodpecker, and a green salamander – while traveling from Calhoun County into Cleburne County.

Dr. Kelly Gregg, Advisory Board Member for the JSU Field Schools, has initiated the development of interpretive “trail rides” for the general public to explore the natural and cultural diversity of the Chief Ladiga Trail.

“Imagine meeting a group of like-minded individuals to explore this impressive trail who plan to enjoy riding their bike in a safe atmosphere along a beautiful stretch of country. Add an interpreter from the field schools that can identify the plants and animals along the trail or who can share the Historical significance of certain features seen along the trail. Voila! You have an outdoor classroom that is unique and easily offered to hundreds of cyclists,” explains Gregg.

The JSU Field School will begin offering interpretive trail rides on portions of the Chief Ladiga Trail from Northeast Alabama all the way to the Georgia state line in 2008. For more information, visit or call 256-782-5697.

See story at The Jacksonville News's website: .

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