Outdoors

Want to get into biking? Here’s how you can hit the trails in Columbus, Georgia

This article is the first in a series of health and fitness stories, brought to you with support from the Cancer Treatment Centers of America.

The temperature is finally dropping, so it’s the perfect time for biking enthusiasts, and those looking to get into the hobby, to hit the trails.

There are plenty of options around Columbus for casual and experienced cyclists, whether one prefers road biking or mountain biking. And for those inexperienced with biking, worry not: A huge monetary investment is not necessary to pick up this hobby.

“Whatever bike you have access to is the perfect bike to begin cycling,” Todd Sellers, co-owner of Brickyard Bike Co. in Phenix City, said. “You don’t have to have the latest technology or some fancy, lightweight bike. We have the perfect venue in Columbus to begin cycling.”

Sellers said he’d advise individuals to stop by their local bike shop and explain where one is in his or her biking career — whether it’s day one or day 5,000. An important aspect of getting started is being appropriately sized for a bike: frame sizes differentiate based on the height of the individual. Then, they’re ready to hit the trails.

Columbus is full of spots for beginners and experienced riders.

For the casual, beginner riders, the Columbus Fall Line Trace is a great option, according to Steve Saunders, owner of Arnold’s Bike Shop on Warm Springs Road and The Bike Shop on Hilton Avenue. Saunders said he sees the most casual riders on this trail, mainly because the hills are not incredibly steep.

“There’s a lot of folks that ride this Fall Line Trace,” Saunders said. “It’s great because it is an old railroad bed, so there aren’t any grades above 1-2%.”

The Fall Line Trace is part of the Columbus Dragonfly Trails. When combined with the RiverWalk, the Fall Line Trace forms a 26-mile ride between Columbus and Fort Benning.

There are many mountain biking areas, too, from north Columbus to Harris County.

Saunders said Flat Rock Park, also on Warm Springs Road, and the new trails at Standing Boy Creek, on Old River Road near Lake Oliver, are great courses for mountain bikers. Eight of the 25 miles of planned mountain bike trails at Standing Boy Creek opened this year, and more trail segments are scheduled to start construction this fall near the river.

Of course, these are not the only places around the area to hit the trails. Here are some of the best places in the Columbus, Georgia, area to bike this fall.

“This is the absolute best time of the year to ride,” Sellers said. “Just enjoy yourself. That’s how we all got into cycling.”

Chattahoochee RiverWalk

Located in Columbus, this 15-mile linear park spans the riverfront from the Lake Oliver city marina south to the National Infantry Museum. There are several access points along the trail.

The RiverWalk now extends through the campus of TSYS and into the cotton mill town of Bibb City. This free-to-access trail offers great views of the river and the chance to spot wildlife: Deer, coyotes, turkeys, snakes, rabbits, armadillos all have been spotted on the trail, with signs posted warning that some of the habitat could have alligators.

Columbus Fall Line Trace

The Columbus Fall Line Trace runs from the 14th Street Bridge downtown to Psalmond Road in the northeast part of the city. The 11-mile paved trail is a rails-to-trails project that is an appendage to the Chattahoochee RiverWalk.

The trail joins the RiverWalk, and, combined, forms a 26-mile trek between Columbus and Fort Benning. Both trails are part of Columbus’ Dragonfly Trails, a network of off-road greenway trails for recreation, transportation and interaction.

Flat Rock Park trail

Located off Warm Springs Road in northeast Columbus, the Flat Rock Park trail is suited for mountain bikers, though road cyclists looking for a quick ride can certainly navigate the paved area at the park.

The trail is a moderately challenging but clean course, a large portion of it single track. Aside from the trail, there are several dirt roads and worn vehicle and walking paths. And, of course, it’s free to access.

Standing Boy Creek

Eight of the 25 miles of planned mountain bike trails inside Standing Boy Creek Wildlife Management Area in northwest Columbus opened earlier this year. 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.

More trail segments are scheduled to start construction this fall near the river.

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.

Fort Benning Mountain Bike Trail

The Fort Benning mountain bike trail has everything from fast flowing downhills to short interval climbs, with several man-made and natural technical features.

Located in Fort Benning, this trail is just over 11 miles of singletrack trail on Main Post near the golf course. This trail offers something for everyone. There are sweet “flowy” sections, sections with climbing and some fun descents, according to the trail’s Facebook page.

This trail is open to the public, but individuals must obtain a visitor’s pass to go on base.

Got a great place you like to bike? Email jmixon@ledger-enquirer.com. In your email, please provide the location’s name, address and what makes it great.

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