Dalton officials plan walking/biking trail along Mill Creek, will link Haig Mill Lake Park to the Crown Mill area

File/Daily Citizen-News

City of Dalton officials plan to extend sidewalk along Chattanooga Avenue to the entrance to a hiking and biking trail and to extend that trail along Mill Creek to Haig Mill Lake Park.

Imagine spending the day at Haig Mill Lake Park and then riding your bicycle into Dalton to have lunch and never getting on a street until you arrive at the Crown Mill area.

In a couple of years, you won't have to imagine that. Dalton city officials are moving forward with a plan to create the Mill Creek Riverwalk, a walking and bicycle trail along Mill Creek that will link to the Crown Mill area.

"This has long been a part of the city's master plan," said Public Works Department Director Andrew Parker. "We are working on a two-phase approach. In the first phase, the Public Works Department will design and build a sidewalk system from Crown Mill up to the (Eagle Walk) trail. That's a fairly straightforward project."

The Eagle Walk at Mill Creek, a half-mile walking and biking trail just off Chattanooga Avenue that runs parallel to Mill Creek, was constructed as an Eagle Scout project about seven years ago.

This phase was originally slated to start this fall or winter, but officials say it will likely be pushed back to spring 2022 due to other projects. The cost is approximately $300,000 for this phase which will be funded by the 2015 Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST).

Phase 2 will start where the Eagle Walk ends and continue along Mill Creek to Haig Mill Lake Park.

In June, the City Council approved a design services contract of up to $203,267 with American Consulting Professionals of Dalton.

"This will involve a series of boardwalks and asphalt trails because there's wetlands, flood plains and creeks that we will have to contend with and cross," Parker said. "We are going to have to be very careful. We will have to cross under two bridges — the North Thornton Avenue bridge that spans Mill Creek and the north bypass bridge that spans Haig Mill Lake Creek. We have already approached (the Georgia Department of Transportation) for an encroachment permit to go under the bypass."

The design should be finished later this year. City officials are still looking at a funding source for this phase,

The trail will be about two miles from Crown Mill to Haig Mill Lake Park. Parker said he has already walked the portion along Mill Creek.

"It's a beautiful walk," he said.

Dalton resident David Sanders was having lunch recently at The Mill at Crown Garden and said he thinks the riverwalk is a good idea.

"I come here a lot," he said. "It would be nice to park here, walk out to the park and spend some time and then come back here and have something to eat before I head home."

Christina Hamilton, who was dining with him, said she believes the trail will make the apartments and homes in and near the Crown Mill area more attractive.

"Being able to walk out your door and walk or bike to the lake would be great," she said.

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