By Sarrah Peters/News Editor
A ribbon cutting for a new trail system at Noccalula Falls campgrounds took place on August 12.
The new trails added 4.9 miles of trail. With the pre-existing Black Creek trail, there are now 6.6 miles of trails.
The City of Gadsden decided to open the new trails after the success of the Black Creek trail, which was opened in September of 2011.
According to Hugh Stump, Executive Director of Greater Gadsden Area Tourism, the new trail system was built from old trails, like footpaths, that have been in the area for hundreds of years. Bikers and hikers used some of these trails despite the worn conditions.
“We improved some of the existing trails and cut some new trails to make more access out here for people to come in and hike and walk and ride,” Stump said.
The location was a key factor in deciding to open these new trails.
“We wanted to take advantage of the beauty up here. There is so much land up here the city owns right in the middle of the city. You don’t have to drive out 10 miles into the woods,” Stump said, explaining why the area was so important.
The trails have more room for hiking and mountain biking, and both activities are becoming more popular. Both provide relaxing outdoor exercise, which can improve health.
Although Stump says the trails are now safer, he does not say that they are all easy. Some trails are more difficult, for those that prefer a challenge.
“Some of the trails are still difficult, because of the terrain changes and elevation changes,” said Stump.
The new trails are named Family Loop, Jeep Hill Loop, Moonshine Ridge, Cascade, and Whatley Trail.
Whatley Trail is named after Ed Whatley, who worked to get the trails at Noccalula campgrounds opened.
Later that day at the city council meeting, Mayor Sherman Guyton honored Ed Whatley with a picture of the new trail system.
“I just want to thank each individual and each group of individuals that had anything to do with naming one of these trails after me. You have no idea how much that means to me,” said Ed Whatley, upon receiving the picture.