Editorial: Rocky Face Ridge Park, Mill Creek Riverwalk add to our wonderful recreational amenities

The COVID-19 pandemic has sent many of us outdoors.

Whether we are exercising our bodies or our minds, trying to shake boredom or for whatever reason, we've seen an uptick locally in people getting out of the house. Our local parks, trails and recreation facilities are certainly getting a good amount of use.

That's why we are pleased to see two more recreation projects in the works. The Daily Citizen-News recently reported on developments at Whitfield County's Rocky Face Ridge Park and the city of Dalton's plans to create a walking/biking trail to link to its popular Haig Mill Park.

The Rocky Face Ridge Park is already getting a good amount of use. The 1,000-acre park, which can be accessed off Crow Valley Road, recently had a soft opening with the grand opening slated for later this fall. There are already mountain bikers making use of the 10-plus miles of trails circling the mountain. A section of 5K running/walking trail is open, but the project has not been completed.

Southern Off-Road Bicycle Association (SORBA) members helped design the mountain bike trail and provided $75,000 for its construction. The county received a $200,000 grant from the Georgia Environmental Protection Division to build the trail. Numerous Civil War trenches and fortifications dot the sides of the mountain, and the former Grant Farm, where the parking lot and trailheads are located, was the site of two Civil War skirmishes.

County officials say the park is already a big draw for out-of-town mountain bikers.

In 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 scheduled 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.

We are happy to see the city and county more providing recreational facilities for us. We hope they will help attract tourists and others to our beautiful community.

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