Thursday, November 13, 2008

Notice about Controlled Burns...

Leslie writes:

Hello Everyone!

I wanted to send everyone an email to let you all know that the Forest Service has started our dormant controlled burning season. I wanted to make the mountain bicycle trail volunteers especially aware of an up coming controlled burn that will be in and around the Lake Howard Bike Trail. This burn will happen sometime between now and Christmas. We will temporarily close the portions of the trail located on National Forest lands the day of the burn. The trail should only be closed for a day or two. As prescribed burning is affected by weather, it is difficult to give an exact date of the prescribed burn. However, I will do my best to let you know a day or two before burn.
Please pass on this information
Thank you!

Lesley M. Hodge
Natural Resource Specialist
USDA- Talladega National Forest- Shoal Creek RD
45 Highway 281
Heflin, AL 36264
256/463-5385 fax

Friday, October 17, 2008

Naming the trail...

At the most recent meeting with the Forest Service, COGS, and the city of Sylacauga, names were given to features of the trail. The first loop as you come up from the Lake Howard Trailhead has been named "Ridge Loop". The first loop on the National Forest side will be called "Lakeview Loop", the small loop above it will be "COGS loop", and finally the last loop in the long-leaf pines will be "Bill's Creek Loop". Each loop will have a color code and mileage marks. The name of the entire trail system will be decided by children in the local school system. Children will submit their trail name suggestions from which the best name will be chosen by a committee. A grand opening will be delayed until trail signs are in place. A suggestion was made that trail markers incorporate the COGS logo we used for the bike century. (see photo)

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Trail evolution...

reposted from

The above pictures reposted from show a machine built trail after 2 years of weather and regrowth. This illustrates how our trail will evolve over time. (Both photos are from approximately the same location and angle. Note the stump and small tree to the right of the photo)

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Paul, Cheryl, and I rode the upper portion of the trail this morning. He mapped it with his GPS but we also mapped Trammel Road where we came out. You can see Wednesday's map as the white. Today's ride is mapped in blue.

Status of Lake Howard Trail

The Trails Unlimited crew completed the trail tread yesterday afternoon.
We now have a complete trail that the COGS volunteers will be grooming-
removing roots, rocking crossings, and riding in. The next step is to meet
with the FS and develop a sign plan, plan for a grand opening, and
coordinate for the Pinhoti 100K Trail run.

Many thanks to TU, COGS, the City, and FS personnel who have all
contributed to meeting this goal.

Joe Nicholson
Recreation Program Manager, NFsAL
2946 Chestnut St., Montgomery, AL 36107
334-241-8128 FAX 334-241-8101

Friday, September 26, 2008

Making progress

The trail has turned out onto a point with a beautiful view of Lake Howard. These photos were captured by Chris Honeycutt. Paul Barnett and I were chopping roots along the newly built section. The trail is progressing nicely.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Article from Daily Home....

Photos by T. Presley

Ground broken for mountain bike, hiking trail

By Kendra Carter

SYLACAUGA — In just a matter of weeks, the city will have another addition to a local park that has become a collaborative effort among the city, the U.S. Forest Service and local volunteers.

City officials, U.S. Forest Service employees and interested citizens gathered Friday morning for the groundbreaking ceremony for a new mountain bike and hiking trail at Lake Howard. The 14-mile trail begins at the park’s small pavilions and goes back into the Talladega National Forest.

“We’re thrilled to have the city recognize the recreational aspects for the city,” said Kent Evans, ranger for the Talladega National Forest.

He said the trail could be a great tool to promote the city of Sylacauga.

Initial construction of the trail began in August when members of a bicycling club, the Cyclists of Greater Sylacauga, and U. S. Forest Service employees started hand-building a portion of the trail near the watershed dam. Trails Unlimited, the group completing the mechanized construction of the trail, began working last Thursday.

Parks and Recreation Department director Jim Armstrong said approximately 3 miles of the trail have so far been completed.

“They’re doing about a half mile per day,” he said.

He said once workers get past the watershed dam area, the process may move more quickly, but said he can’t be sure because of the weather.

Plans for the project have been in the works for at least a year. Mayor Sam Wright said there used to be activities going on around Lake Howard, and added he wants to do projects that will get more people to the park area.

The city of Sylacauga, along with the members of COGS, agreed to build, operate and maintain the trail to the specifications of the Forest Service.

The city put up $134,000 to finance the project.

Miera Crawford, forest supervisor for USDA Forest Service National Forests in Alabama said the fact that the city was willing to step up and fund the project and get others involved was “extraordinary.”

“I think one of the big messages to get out of all this is that you have so many people (like) city government, volunteers, user groups and federal government coming together for creating a place where people can come out and enjoy the outdoors. It may not sound like a big deal, but it is because you don’t see that very often.”

Crawford said the Forest Service is matching the city’s money with in-kind services by providing people to do the some of the work.

The trail is scheduled to be complete in two weeks.

After it’s finished, COGS members will work to keep up the trail as well as improve it.

“Ultimately, the big job is to keep the trail open and work with the erosion,” said Tim Presley with COGS. “We’ll use (the Forest Service’s) procedures and methods to take care of the trail.”

He said the group would also like to construct some auxiliary trails that lead to views of the lake and other landmarks that could double the trail mileage, but said that could take two years.

In addition to physical manpower, the club is also raising money through events and grants to purchase their own equipment to keep the trail up.

Johnny Oliver, vice president of COGS, said he knows the new trail will attract people from Anniston, Birmingham and other areas across the state.

“Once it gets established, it will be pretty big,” Oliver said.

Joe Richardson, president of Sylacauga Chamber of Commerce, said the trail is like something you might see in Tennessee’s Smoky Mountains.

“(The trail) is another asset we’ve got, to show the quality of life here and attract more residents,” Richardson said.

Crawford said the trail will be a “wonderful resource” for the city.

“It’s going to be done, it’s going to be beautiful, and we’re going to get people here,” she said.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Trails Unlimited arrives....

Today I worked with the Trails Unlimited crew as we cut the first mile of trail at Lake Howard. Hurricane Gustav rains delayed the arrival of the earth moving equipment until yesterday (Wednesday). After brief introductions they got the Sweco and excavator unloaded. With a few small trees sawed, they got right into trail building. Mitch, Wes, and Jerry were out front cutting and clearing a path. Keith operated the Sweco and Jason, the excavator.

Anybody wanting to help is welcomed. The crew arrives onsite around 8:30am and works all day every day that weather permits. Rain and wet conditions can stop progress so let's hope for dry weather for the next 2 weeks.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Trail building is started.

This Saturday a group from COGS and the Forest Service began work on the Lake Howard Trail. The initial project was to hand build the section that will connect to the road across the watershed dam to the the machine build portion that will be created by Trails Unlimited. It was hard to visualize a trail there across that severe side slope with lots of bushy growth in the way. By peering through the growth I could see the tape and blue blazes that marked the path. As I made my way along the markers lopping off branches with Bob chopping in spots to help create a path to follow, I thought we may have underestimated the time it was going to take to get the trail open. But with everyone pitching in, the trail began to take shape quickly. By lunch break, the section we had laid out that morning could have been ridden.

Two more work days were tentatively scheduled for this week. It is great to finally be making progress.

COGS: Tim, Johnny, Billy, Mike, Dustin, Eric, Little Tim
USFS: Leslie, Ricky, Joe

Tuesday, August 5, 2008


Hello Everyone!

First I would like to say thank you for allowing Joe Nicholson and I to
attend and participate in your meeting a couple of weeks ago!

We are excited about our first trail work day coming up this Saturday! As
we discussed, we will meet August 9th at 8:00am at the J. Craig Smith
Community Center located at the corner of Highway 21 (aka Broadway Ave) and
8th street in Sylacauga. From there, we will travel to the trail location
and begin work.

Please bring your personal protective equipment. This includes, eye
protection, hearing protection, hard hat, work boots, and gloves. We will
have some hard hats on hand if you do not have one. It is best to wear
long sleeves and pants. You may also want to bring bug spray, lunch and
plenty of water.

Those of you who have trail building tools, please bring them. This
includes shovels, rakes, pruning shears.

I only included those emails of the people who attended the July 23 meeting
so please help spread the word to other you know are interested.

If you have any questions please contact me by email or call me. My office
number is 256-463-2272 ext. 116.

Thank you and I look forward to seeing you all on Saturday!


Lesley M. Hodge
Natural Resource Specialist
USDA- Talladega National Forest- Shoal Creek RD
45 Highway 281
Heflin, AL 36264
256/463-5385 fax

Friday, July 25, 2008

First OFFICIAL Workday

The FIRST workday for the hand cut sections of our new trail will be Saturday August 9th. We will leave out from J.Craig Smith Community Center, 2 West 8th street in Sylacauga, by 8 am. Please anyone available come and bring gloves, shovels, landscape axes, etc. Also bring safety glasses and a hard hat if you have one. We should have a few from the Rangers gear for those who don't. Please come help kick this off, it will be something to be proud of. We hope the trail will be in good shape for riding by around Oct. 1st.
Johnny Oliver VP

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Holding pattern

We are still patiently waiting for the trail building to begin. Plans are still for September. Summer growth has slowed down some of our trail activity but an old trail has been opened up making an interesting loop of our existing trails. With the coming of Fall we will be able to open these up better and get the trails "ridden in". Only one bridge left to build to protect sensitive drainage and we are a go. With the building of the Lake Howard portion, interest in these other routes should really help keeping them clear.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Trail Building

We have been doing some maintenance on some of our other trails this weekend. It is our intention to establish a routine of trail work and prepare for our ongoing role as maintainers for the Lake trail. We find that various members of our club have found routes through and around our watershed lakes. Most of these aren't very long. When you look at them on a map, you see the potential to make connector trails and create a long section of single track. Most of these are the remnants of logging roads which follow the contours of the ridges. The recent thinning of these areas to enhance the long-leaf pine will actually improve our ability to route these connectors. It is our plan to get these done before summer growth starts. This way the trails can be kept open through the summer.

We look forward to getting started on the Lake trail. Building trails can be as much fun as riding them.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

IMBA Rules

Rules of the Trail

These guidelines for trail behavior are recognized around the world. IMBA developed the "Rules of the Trail" to promote responsible and courteous conduct on shared-use trails. Keep in mind that conventions for yielding and passing may vary, depending on traffic conditions and the intended use of the trail.
1. Ride On Open Trails Only
Respect trail and road closures -- ask a land manager for clarification if you are uncertain about the status of a trail. Do not trespass on private land. Obtain permits or other authorization as may be required. Be aware that bicycles are not permitted in areas protected as state or federal Wilderness.
2. Leave No Trace
Be sensitive to the dirt beneath you. Wet and muddy trails are more vulnerable to damage than dry ones. When the trail is soft, consider other riding options. This also means staying on existing trails and not creating new ones. Don't cut switchbacks. Be sure to pack out at least as much as you pack in.
3. Control Your Bicycle
Inattention for even a moment could put yourself and others at risk. Obey all bicycle speed regulations and recommendations, and ride within your limits.
4. Yield to Others
Do your utmost to let your fellow trail users know you're coming -- a friendly greeting or bell ring are good methods. Try to anticipate other trail users as you ride around corners. Bicyclists should yield to all other trail users, unless the trail is clearly signed for bike-only travel. Bicyclists traveling downhill should yield to ones headed uphill, unless the trail is clearly signed for one-way or downhill-only traffic. Strive to make each pass a safe and courteous one.
5. Never Scare Animals
Animals are easily startled by an unannounced approach, a sudden movement or a loud noise. Give animals enough room and time to adjust to you. Running cattle and disturbing wildlife are serious offenses.
6. Plan Ahead
Know your equipment, your ability and the area in which you are riding -- and prepare accordingly. Strive to be self-sufficient: keep your equipment in good repair and carry necessary supplies for changes in weather or other conditions. Always wear a helmet and appropriate safety gear.