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Help us clear storm-damaged trails in the Chattanooga area

Last week, a series of deadly tornadoes ran amok throughout the southeast, causing severe damage in our area (especially nearby Ringgold, GA). For survivors, the healing process has begun. At Rock/Creek, we feel that outdoor recreation is an important part of this healing process, and Chattanooga offers no shortage of opportunities to get outdoors.

Unfortunately, several of the numerous trail systems in and around Chattanooga have sustained significant damage as well; some cannot be run, biked, or even traversed without being cleared first.

The good news is that the trails at TVA’s Raccoon Mountain, which will be used for the Scenic City Trail Marathon and Half Marathon, are in excellent condition; the top of the mountain appears to be almost entirely unscathed, and the Marathon WILL NOT be affected. The bad news, however, is that many of the trails in our area are in much worse condition, especially those on Lookout Mountain.

One of the tornadoes crossed directly through the southern end of the Lula Lake core property, taking down nearly every tree in its path; see photo at right, courtesy Lula Lake Land Trust & Warren-McLelland Aerial Photography.

In addition, major damage has occurred throughout Lookout Valley. Rock/Creek employees (myself included) have reported many trees down along the Bluff Trail, as well as at the bottom of the mountain near Reflection Riding and the Chattanooga Nature Center, both of which remain inaccessible. The Guild-Hardy trail has been closed since the storms. These multi-use trails are extremely popular with recreational users, as well as being featured in portions of the Rock/Creek Trail Series. If we want our trails back, we’re going to have to get to work.

Randy Whorton phrases it this way:

Part of getting our lives back in order is retrieving — or at least maintaining — our sanity. I think, for many of us, getting on the trails is a key part. The problem there is that the trails are all in such bad shape… If we don’t pull together, it will take years to clear them all. It’s beyond bad, and we love our trails.

If you’d like to help, we’re organizing a series of trail work days, starting first at Lula Lake in order to clear this hard-hit area in time for the Lookout Mountain stage of the Chattanooga Mountains Stage Race next month. These trail volunteer days will be every Wednesday, between 3:30PM to 8:00PM; email randy (at) wildtrails (dot) org for details.

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