JSU Field Schools Coordinator
Presents Overview of Chief Ladiga Trail
Future Interpretive “Trail Rides”
By Renee S. MorrisonI want to ride my bicycle...all the way to Georgia!
Jacksonville State University
Weekly Column - Town and Gown
Reprinted here in its entirety.
“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
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 http://epic.jsu.edu or call
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