The city of Carrollton is always looking to provide its citizens new ways to be recreationally active. One attraction that has been under construction since June 2011 is the GreenBelt Trail, which encircles the Carrollton perimeter. The trail serves as a recreational opportunity that is geared towards promoting health, fitness and livability by integrating transportation with recreation.
The idea for the GreenBelt was proposed by the Friends of Carrollton GreenBelt, a non-profit, grassroots organization that formed to help find sponsors and create the plans for the trail. Erica Studdard, the executive director of the organization, helped create the plan at City Hall when the group has to think outside of the box on where to build a trail that would engage everyone.
“The cool idea of the trail is that we have tied it to places of work, school, churches and shopping areas,” said Studdard. “I feel like we are engaging a large cross section of our community, and we have got to continue building on this.”
The 16-mile trail is the largest paved trail in Georgia and is designed to be a large loop, allowing people to pick several sections in different parts of town to choose from for use. The trail connects with some major parts of Carrollton. It intersects nearby neighborhoods with the city’s public school campuses, the University of West Georgia (UWG), city parks, like East Carrollton Park and Hobbs Farm Park and shopping areas, such as the McIntosh Plaza shopping center. It also links people to Buffalo Creek, although that particular trail head is currently under construction.
“The community can now utilize the trail as an alternative to vehicular travel,” Studdard said. “It is open to all ages and all mobility. Families, single people, avid bicyclists, skaters and walkers are all welcome to use the trail. It is designed for literally everyone, not only bikers and hikers.”
Studdard specifically planned the trail to intersect with the UWG campus to help students get around easier. It intersects the campus at Maple Street near Watson and winds below Love Valley and Center Pointe Suites. The trail then exits the campus at Lovvorn Road, a popular location for student housing.
“The current administration is very supportive of building an active living style for the students. With the trail, it is a faster means of transportation, and it gets them active,” said Studdard.
One great quality about the trail is its environmentally sensitive ideology. Studdard explained that the workers do tree surveys and identify the existing environment so that they can work around it. They also deal with root bridging, which helps prevent killing trees. The trail follows the natural contours of the land, so it has hills, winding roads and woods. The project also plants trees around the trail to help maintain its care for the environment.
“We take in consideration of the habitat and the animals,” she said. “People have the opportunity to see wildlife, like woodchucks, deer and birds. We give exposure to the natural environment.”
There are some basic rules for the trail, mainly dealing with the consideration of other users. Trail users are asked not to smoke and not to ride bicycles recklessly. Motorized vehicles are not allowed except for electric wheelchairs. The trail is open from dawn to dusk, but alcohol and drugs are forbidden. Dogs are allowed on the trail, but owners are asked to keep them on a leash and pick up after them.
“I want to remind our usual trail users to remember that some of these people are first time users, and they may not know the etiquette of the trail, such as keeping to the right when moving.”
The goal is to have the trail fully completed by 2016. However, Studdard claims this could be pushed back, especially due to unpredictable obstacles like the weather. Even though the completion of the trail is far down the road, Studdard is excited to celebrate its completion and their achievement.
“We want to celebrate with the community because they helped build this with us,” Studdard said. “We are absolutely proud of what we have done.”