Counting Steps

First Hiking Trail Mileage Marker Update in Six Years Chicopee Woods Nature Preserve hiking trails mileage marker installed on the new Bridge Trail.

Did you know that community volunteers, led and guided by Elachee’s staff, have developed much of the 63,360 linear feet of hiking trails in the Chicopee Woods Nature Preserve? Let’s take a quick walk down memory lane as a nod to those individuals, who throughout the past 40 years, have carved a resource throughout one of Georgia’s largest protected green spaces that tens of thousands of hikers enjoy each year.

Developing and installing the hiking trails’ mileage marker signage and map system represent a significant wayfarer project in Chicopee Woods that began nearly two decades ago. Elachee staff and volunteers originally placed mileage markers along the hiking trails in the early 2000s. These markers approximate quarter-mile distances along each trail and are color-coded to match the unique color of the trail blazes that assist in the navigation of each trail.

To this day, hikers use these markers to help with navigation along the 12-mile hiking trail network. Emergency responders also make use of the system to find hikers needing assistance within the Preserve. As well, these markers prove invaluable for timely Preserve management efforts as hikers can accurately pinpoint where trees have fallen blocking a trail or to report other issues along the trails.

As with any sustainable effort, keeping this mileage marker system updated is an incremental process to assure accuracy and maximize usefulness for trail users, Preserve management and emergency personnel. The next milestone enhancement took place in 2013 when Girl Scout Troop 10811 mapped the mileage markers and hiking trails using GPS devices and computer software.

Marking the Distance Elachee volunteer David Scobey, a trail conservation ambassador and trail maintainer, has undertaken the most recent effort to maintain this system.

Elachee volunteer David Scobey, a trail conservation ambassador and trail maintainer, has undertaken the most recent effort to maintain this system. It’s a labor of love and devotion to the Chicopee Woods Nature Preserve.

David has been hiking in the Preserve since 2005 and for the past six years volunteering with Elachee. He lives nearby and hikes the Preserve almost daily for personal enjoyment and to train for longer hiking expeditions. One such expedition is David’s frequent rim to rim to rim hikes at the Grand Canyon. This trek is about 50 miles with approximately 22,000 feet of elevation change.

In late 2018, David hiked the Chicopee Woods Nature Preserve trail system multiple times, using both a handheld measuring wheel and a GPS unit to measure and confirm trail distances. This updated mapping includes the newly designated .4-mile Bridge Trail which was partitioned from the Dunlap Trail to limit trail name overlap. 

As expected, trail distances have changed over time due to trail relocation. Currently, David is in the process of adjusting existing mileage marker placements to reflect the adjusted distance measurements. He is also installing new mileage markers along the Bridge Trail. These markers are green – the Bridge Trail blaze color. He is also making the hiking trail system more precise by changing terminus mileage markers to reflect the actual trail length. For example, a trail that ends at .68 miles will display that distance on the final mileage marker instead of rounding up to .75 miles, as it did under the former quarter-mile system.

The Elachee website will soon reflect these mileage measurement updates as will future Preserve trail maps published by Elachee. In addition, emergency responders and law enforcement will receive this data to support their efforts.

Join Elachee in giving a big, “Thank You!” to David Scobey for taking on this months-long project. If you happen to see David working on the mileage markers out on the trail, please be sure to stop and say, “Hello!”

Stretch Your Legs at Elachee

The 12-mile hiking trail network in the Chicopee Woods Nature Preserve is open daily from 7 a.m. to sunset. Find Tips for Trail Use, Hiking Trail Descriptions and more by visiting www.elachee.org/hiking-trails.

Also read the Elachee blog post: Hiking Trail Updates