Eight of the 25 miles of planned mountain bike trails inside Standing Boy Creek Wildlife Management Area in northwest Columbus are set to open late this month, according to Columbus resident and avid biker Blake Melton.
The trail construction was announced to the public in August 2018.
The 1,580-acre state-owned nature area is located at 1701 Old River Road near Lake Oliver. The land is managed by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources.
Melton, who sits on the the steering committee that has raised funds for the construction of the trails, told Columbus Council Tuesday that DNR has constructed a parking area at the entrance to the trails.
“We should have a kiosk up hopefully this week or next week at the latest, signage is on order, and as soon as that trail hits the parking lot, and we get signage up, DNR should give us the OK and we’ll open the trail,” Melton said.
More trail segments are scheduled to start construction this fall near the river, Melton said, where removal of debris from tornado damage along the river will be tricky. Melton expects quotes to clear the debris should be coming in over the next couple of weeks.
“If we clear it and don’t do some restoration to the tree canopy and getting rid of privet and some other invasive species, we can build the trail 15 yards from the river but you’re not going to be able to see the river because it’s going to be so thick,” he said. “On my list long term is to get with the folks at the Chattahoochee River Conservancy to talk about restoring the bank there so the water can be accessed.”
Fundraising efforts so far have raised $800,000 of the $1,750,000 needed for the whole project: $500,000 must be raised by December 31 in order for phase two to be constructed January through April 2020, Melton said.
Melton said that the trails will help attract and retain young professionals to live and work in the city as well as attract visitors. The multi-use trails are dirt surface and will be used by hikers, trail runners and mountain bikers, and will range in skill level from beginner to advanced.
The trail project followed discussions among local residents of turning Standing Boy into a full-fledged state park, including possibly adding a splash pad, an RV park, a wedding pavilion and other elements. Those plans were eventually nixed in favor of the bike trails.
Those wishing to access the wildlife management area once the trails are open can purchase a hunting or fishing pass from the Department of Natural Resources.