A Joint Endeavor
Ever wonder what separates the 8-mile hiking trail system in the Chicopee Woods Nature Preserve and the 21-mile mountain bike trail system in the Chicopee Woods Conservation Area?
Visitors to the Chicopee Woods Conservation Area have variety of activity options to enjoy in this 1,900-acre south Hall County forest, located 45 minutes north of Atlanta. The common denominator? Access to nature.
Some 1,440-acres of this urban woodland comprise the Chicopee Woods Nature Preserve. Nestled in this Nature Preserve is Elachee Nature Science Center, an 8-mile hiking trail system and the Chicopee Woods Aquatic Studies Center at Chicopee Lake. Separated by Interstate-985, along the western flank of the Chicopee Woods Conservation Area is a 21-mile mountain bike trail system.
Both the hiking and the mountain bike trail systems are in existence thanks to decades of sweat equity from nature-loving volunteers. Visitors to the Conservation Area often lump together the hiking and mountain bike trails, not realizing they are managed and maintained by different organizations. While the Elachee Volunteer Trail Crew designs, manages and maintains the hiking trail system, a separate volunteer corps is in charge of the Chicopee Woods mountain bike trail system.
Chicopee Woods Mountain Bike Trails
The mountain bike trails in the Chicopee Woods are open to traffic daily from 7 a.m. to sunset. Trails close during and after rain. Before heading out, visit www.negasorba.org to check the trail status. Contact Northeast Georgia SORBA to ask about volunteer opportunities to maintain the Chicopee Woods mountain bike trails.
Upon arrival, visitors must pay a Chicopee Woods Area Park Commission (CWAPC) daily parking fee or may purchase an annual parking pass to park in a designated lot within the Conservation Area. Net proceeds are used provide enhanced security in the Conservation Area, as well as trash service and porta-john access and cleaning in the Chicopee Woods mountain bike trail parking lot.
Volunteers, led by Northeast Georgia Southeastern Off-Road Bicycle Association (Northeast Georgia SORBA), put in hundreds of hours of physical labor to update and maintain one of northeast Georgia’s most pristine mountain bike trail systems. Upon logging 16 hours, volunteers earn a CWAPC annual parking pass.
These volunteers routinely make structural repairs to, as well as create erosion blocks and removes hazardous obstructions along this 21-mile system. Ongoing maintenance is important to protect these structures from break down, caused by soil and natural debris, as well as repeated use by daily visitors.
Northeast Georgia SORBA spokesperson, Stan Crane, with help from his volunteer crew and third-party experts, keeps a vigilant eye on all mountain bike trail system areas.
“Northeast Georgia SORBA takes seriously our role as stewards of the land in the Chicopee Woods Conservation Area. We design, build and maintain our bike trails for minimal impact to the landscape,” Crane explains. This focus on preservation while providing recreational opportunities for the community is the ultimate balancing act.
How You Can Protect Chicopee Woods While Biking
The Chicopee Woods Mountain Bike system has been purposefully built to a relatively narrow path to limit degradation of the surrounding environment. Crane encourages fellow bikers to travel in the indicated daily direction and stay on the official trails.
Crane states, “Northeast Georgia SORBA values the land in the Chicopee Woods Conservation Area. We design and maintain our bike trails here in such a way as to be sensitive to the resident flora and fauna. We educate our members and visitors how to ride bikes in the forest without scaring the wildlife. We are constantly evaluating our trails for erosion and runoff. When we observe a problem area, we correct it to prevent any damage to nearby streams.”
- No dogs may be on the Chicopee Woods mountain bike trails at any time.
- All vehicles entering and parking in the Chicopee Woods Conservation Area, including the Chicopee Woods mountain bike trail lot, are subject to the CWAPC parking fee. Daily parking fee is $5 per vehicle or $10 for 15-passenger vans and buses. Or, purchase a $50 annual parking pass.